Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

Archive for November 15th, 2009

Let Your ‘Yes’ Be ‘Yes’

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2009/11/15

Many people hold swearing an oath to be of great value. Whether it is to hold a public office or to give testimony in court or all sorts of non-legal, every-day junk, swearing an oath is held to a higher standard.

I am not one of those people. I will not put my hand on a Bible and swear to Providence anything. Why should I?

People suggest that means someone must needs tell the truth or fulfill a promise if they swear an oath. Does it really? If it takes an oath to make people honest, what does that tell about those people to begin with? And, what does that mean about the oath those people swore? Is there really any weight to it? I think not.

The Bible says don’t swear by this or that or the other thing because there is not thing one you can do to change any of that. It goes on to say let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” “no”. If your word is solid, a promise or oath means nothing because your word is already solid. If your word needs a promise or oath to become solid, that promise or oath still won’t make your word solid.

And for those who may wish to call me all wet for this stand, you might like to look at the Constitution, which has the Presidential Oath of Office (Article II Section 1):

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The Founding Fathers took this position seriously when they wrote the Presidential Oath of Office. And courts of law also allow an affirmation instead of an oath.

While it may seem on the surface that an affirmation is much weaker than an oath, I contend it is the oath that is the weaker. The oath presumes an oath is necessary to assure honor and integrity, whereas the affirmation presumes honor and integrity already exist. The oath relies on the power of words to do what the power of the heart cannot. The affirmation relies on the power of the heart to remain true. The oath admits someone may not have been fully honest without it. The affirmation points to the person’s previously demonstrated honesty.

If you are going to swear an oath and put your hand on the Bible, you are, in essence, admitting you can’t do it on your own, whether that admission is true or not. But if you say “yes, I’ll be telling the truth,” then you are telling people to look at your past behavior. And this is why I believe an affirmation is weightier than an oath. It is because the affirmation uses your character and past behavior to make its stand while the oath ignores everything about your character and past behavior.

Posted in Christianity, Constitution, politics, society, truth | 1 Comment »

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