Surprise! Oaths guarantee nothing

Why do you suppose that “adult” talk is so full of swearing? Simple. It’s because people lie so much. They frantically embellish their statements and claims to try to get people to believe them this time.

Using an oath (e.g., “swear to God”) suggests that the swearer is willing to submit to divine penalty for perjury, and thus the statement must be believable. Adding oathy intensifiers (e.g., “OMG”) supposedly adds drama and emotion to the statement. Jesus asks you to rid your working vocabulary of both: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all” (Matthew 5:33,34).

Even ceremonial oaths for certain government functions, like receipt of citizenship or entry into high office, are becoming meaningless because our society increasingly does not even recognize a higher Being and most certainly does not submit to the Bible upon which the swearer’s hand is placed.

Jesus isn’t commanding you to rebel against these government practices. He is urging you to avoid the practice of calling upon God to audit your spoken statements for veracity and to avoid the foolish invitation to God to smite you for lying. Thankfully God ignores most swearing. Good thing—not many swearers would be left standing if he didn’t.

There are much better uses for God’s holy name.

.Pastor Mark Jeske brought the good news of Jesus Christ to viewers of Time of Grace for 18 years. He is currently the senior pastor at St. Marcus Church, a thriving multicultural congregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mark is the author of several books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics. He and his wife, Carol, have four adult children.


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