Oaths

 

 

It is lawful for a Christian to swear an oath

 

 

 

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that it is lawful for a Christian to swear an oath. The Code of Canon Law says: ‘An oath, that is the invocation of the divine name as a witness to truth, cannot be taken unless in truth, in judgment, and in justice’ (can. 1199 § 1). The Catholic Encyclopedia confirms the Code of Canon Law: ‘An oath is an invocation to God to witness the truth of a statement. It may be express and direct, as when one swears by God Himself; or implicit and tacit, as when we swear by creatures, since they bear a special relation to the Creator and manifest His majesty and the supreme ….. An oath is licit, and an act of virtue, under certain conditions. It is, in effect, an act of homage rendered by the creature to the wisdom and omnipotence of the Creator—it is therefore an act of the virtue of religion; moreover, it is an excellent way of affording men security in their mutual intercourse. It is justified in the Old and New Testament; the faithful and the Church from Apostolic times to the present day have employed oaths; and canonical legislation and doctrinal decrees have affirmed their lawfulness.’

The Anglican Church teaches the same thing, for it says: ‘As we confess that vain and rash swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, so we judge that Christian religion doth not prohibit but that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the Prophet's teaching in justice, judgement, and truth’ (The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, XXXIX). Seventh-Day Adventist Church also teaches that it is lawful for a Christian to swear an oath, in that Ellen White in the third chapter of Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing stated: ‘The reason for this command is given: We are not to swear “by the heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black.” R.V. All things come of God. We have nothing that we have not received; and, more than this, we have nothing that has not been purchased for us by the blood of Christ. Everything we possess comes to us stamped with the cross, bought with the blood that is precious above all estimate, because it is the life of God. Hence there is nothing that we have a right to pledge, as if it were our own, for the fulfillment of our word. The Jews understood the third commandment as prohibiting the profane use of the name of God; but they thought themselves at liberty to employ other oaths. Oath taking was common among them. Through Moses they had been forbidden to swear falsely, but they had many devices for freeing themselves from the obligation imposed by an oath. They did not fear to indulge in what was really profanity, nor did they shrink from perjury so long as it was veiled by some technical evasion of the law. Jesus condemned their practices, declaring that their custom in oath taking was a transgression of the commandment of God. Our Saviour did not, however, forbid the use of the judicial oath, in which God is solemnly called to witness that what is said is truth and nothing but the truth.’

 

 

Confutation

 

Jesus Christ said: “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:33-37 – NKJV).

James, the Lord’s brother, confirmed the words of Jesus, saying: “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth, or with any other oath. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgement” (James 5:12 – NKJV).

In the light of these Bible verses, we say that it is never right to swear. How can someone swear to tell the truth at a given moment and thereby imply that at other times he might not? A Christian tells the truth all the time! Thus he does not need to swear he will tell the truth. The Bible makes the judicial oath both unnecessary and wrong for the Christian. Let no one deceive you with empty words.

 

 

 

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