Quotes about Vows
Feelings change. You can’t promise to have a feeling. So if love is a feeling, the marriage vow makes no sense at all. But the vow does make sense because love is not a feeling. What is it, then? Love is a commitment of the will to the true good of another person. Of course, people who love each other usually do have strong feelings too, but you can have those feelings without having love. Love, let me repeat, is a commitment of the will to the true good of another person.
The important thing, Jesus is saying (in Matthew 5:33-37), is to tell the truth and keep one’s pledges without insisting that a certain form of words must be used if it is to be binding. No oath is necessary for the truthful person… Their word is so reliable that nothing more than a statement is needed from them.
An oath is a solemn statement (not necessarily a promise or a vow) affirmed to be true before God.
Some people think (our Lord’s words in Matthew 5:33-37) prohibits them from taking oaths in a courtroom, or from taking an oath of allegiance. Their desire to obey God’s Word is admirable; but I submit they have really not understood it. As usual, Jesus is preaching in antithetical fashion; and it is important to discover just what He is saying before we take His statement with such insensitive absoluteness.
[Jesus is] not saying, “Take absolutely no oaths at all,” because Jesus Himself took and made oaths. You remember what Jesus said to His disciples in the upper room in John 13? “I tell you I will never again eat of this meal until we eat it in the Kingdom.” He was making an oath. He was saying, “I’m never going to sit down with you and eat this supper until we are eating the marriage feast of the Lamb together.” It was a pledge to His people – that He was going to be faithful until He brought them to glory. Paul made oaths. So Jesus’ point is not, “Don’t ever make oaths.” His point is, “Don’t ever use God’s name in an oath with subterfuge.” You always tell the truth. And even if you don’t invoke God’s name, whenever you are being called upon to tell you are witnessing as to whether you are from God or from the evil one.
What we have here in Matthew 5:33-37 (cf. James 5:12) is the condemnation of the flippant, profane, uncalled for, and often hypocritical oath, used in order to make an impression or to spice daily conversation. Over against that evil Jesus commends simple truthfulness in thought, word and deed.
The worse men are, the less they are bound by oaths; the better they are, the less there is need for them. Our Lord does not enjoin the precise terms wherein we are to affirm or deny, but such a constant regard to truth as would render oaths unnecessary.
The frequent requiring and using of oaths, is a poor reflection on Christians, who should be of such acknowledged fidelity, as that their sober words should be as sacred as their solemn oaths.
To use oaths ordinarily and indifferently without being constrained by any cogent necessity, or called to it by any lawful authority, is such a sin as wears off all reverence and dread of the great God; and we have very great cause to suspect that where His name is so much upon the tongue there His fear is but little in the heart.
Jesus asks for a radical truthfulness which supersedes the requirements of the Law – a radical truthfulness that does not need oaths. Oath-taking is popular because people are liars. It’s that simple.
Oath-taking is permitted, but it is not encouraged. In civil life, as in a courtroom, oath-taking is permitted. And when one is put under oath, he or she is not sinning against Christ’s teaching. Also, on rare occasions such a practice may be necessary, as it was for Paul. This said, oaths are not to be a part of everyday conversation. Christians should not need such devices. They should be known to be people of truth.
In serious situations an oath is permissible to give greater motivation to tell the truth or to keep a pledge (i.e. marriage).
Any oath calling on God invites Him to witness the truthfulness of what is said or to avenge if it a lie.
The Bible does not forbid taking oaths, acknowledging that in a world filled with liars there are times when they are necessary. Certainly it is not wrong to take an oath when testifying in court, being ordained, or getting married. Oaths are wrong when they are misused with the intent to deceive others, or when taken rashly or flippantly. The Bible gives examples of godly men who took oaths, lists God’s commandments that oaths be taken, and records instances of God Himself taking oaths.
Jesus nor James prohibits swearing oaths under special circumstances. But under normal circumstances they are superfluous for the believer, who is marked by honesty.
Our truthfulness should be so consistent and dependable that we need no oath to support it: a simple “yes” or “no” should suffice [Mt. 5:34-37; Jas. 5:12].
Most do not consider that solemn oaths in a court of justice, or on other proper occasions, are wrong, provided they are taken with due reverence. Others, however, such as Quakers, take this verse in its most literal sense and will not swear any type of oath. But all oaths taken without necessity, or in common conversation, must be sinful, as well as all those expressions that are appeals to God, though persons think thereby to evade the guilt of swearing. Evil men and women are not bound by oaths; the godly have no need of them (J.M. Freeman).
A married person does not live in isolation. He or she has made a promise, a pledge, a vow, to another person. Until that vow is fulfilled and the promise is kept, the individual is in debt to his marriage partner. That is what he owes. “You owe it to yourself” is not a valid excuse for breaking a marriage vow but a creed of selfishness.
If God takes our idle words seriously, how much more seriously does He take those words spoken with forethought? And if He takes our normal statements seriously, how much more seriously does He take our promises, especially when those promises are raised to the level of the formal vow?
What Jesus emphasized in His teaching (in Matthew 5:33-37) was that honest men do not need to resort to oaths; it was not that they should refuse to take an oath if required by some external authority to do so.
Oath-taking is really a pathetic confession of our own dishonesty. What do we find it necessary to introduce our promises by some tremendous formula? The only reason is that we know our simple word is not likely to be trusted. So we try to induce people to believe us by adding a solemn oath.
Whenever I utter the formula “I swear by God,” I am really saying, “Now I’m going to mark off an area of absolute truth and put walls around it to cut it off from the muddy floods of untruthfulness and irresponsibility that ordinarily overruns my speech.” In fact, I am saying even more than this. I am saying that people are expecting me to lie from the start. And just because they are counting on my lying I have to bring up these big guns of oaths and words of honor.
Some people object to taking vows, but in the Bible you will find many great men of God directed by covenants, promises, vows and pledges. A carnal man refuses the discipline of such commitments. He says, “I want to be free. It is legalism.” There are many religious tramps in the world who will not be bound by anything. Now there are five vows I have in mind which we do well to make and keep. 1. Deal thoroughly with sin. 2. Never own anything- get rid of the sense of possessing. 3. Never defend yourself. 4. Never pass anything on about anybody else that will hurt him. 5. Never accept any glory. Remember that these five vows are not something you write in the back of your Bible and forget. They have got to be written in your own blood.