Eric's Note: In August 2005 a reader of our newsletter wrote about swearing oaths. Here is the email and my response.
Hello my name is Oleg and I've got a quick question. The Bible says not to swear in any way. I understand that but what should you do if you want to be a fireman or a doctor? They have to take oath. What does the bible say about oaths? Is it okay to take if it's necessary to take for your career?
You have asked a very sticky and problematic question. I will do my best to answer biblically and logically.
I know that some Christians may not see this the way I do but let me lay out what I believe.
The guiding passage on the swearing of oaths is found in Matthew 5:
34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
When Jesus admonished Believers not to swear at all in Matthew 5, His caution in v. 34-35 can be seen as a warning not to bring condemnation down on one's self by obligation to do something or to perform something that was impossible or improbable for a person to fulfill. People in Jesus' day went about swearing to all sorts of things which they then later failed to fulfill. The same is obviously true today. In addition, when a person swear's "by God" on an issue, what they are saying may be completely outside of what God's will is for a given situation.
The Lord's warning in v. 36 is different then His warning in v. 34-35 however. It is akin to taking what is commonly referred to as a "blood" oath. How do we know? Jesus says do not "swear by thou head." This is the type that occultists swear. It gives a sort of legal right for other humans (and demonic forces alike) to bring harm to you if you fail at keeping whatever it is you swear. More so, the moment you swear an oath, the penalty of which is your own life, you have sinned against God's word and are game for the Enemy's intrusion in your life circumstances. "Blood" oaths give the Devil spiritual authority to operate in a person's life. It is such oaths that have bound and brought deception, spiritual blindness and demonic curses into the lives and homes of Freemasons.
Now, about your situation. Often people call "affirmations of duty" or "affirmations of truthfulness" an "oath." This is probably a poor choice of terms to call these affirmations an oath. Since they are not swearing on one's "head" then the cost of one's physical or spiritual safety as related to the "oath" is never in question. We affirm an "oath" of sorts when we repeat the Pledge of Allegiance at the presentation of our country's flag here in the United States. Though it may be questionable to some Christians to do so, we also merely affirm to tell the truth in court proceedings when the judge instructs that a witness be "given the oath" or "sworn" in. Though lying in a court case can bring the penalty of perjury into play, Christians should confidently tell the truth in ever occasion for to do otherwise is obvious sin. Thus, in the case of what to do before taking the witness stand in court we are merely affirming to do what we would be doing anyway - regardless of any act of the justice system which "swears" us in before we testify.
Christians should delineate between a "death" or "blood" curse and the simple affirmation that they will perform particular acts (such as fire fighting or police work) to the very best of their ability. This is equal to giving your word as a human being. On the other hand, a death or blood oath brings curses which put you under the condemnation and spiritual control of other humans in a way the Satan can gain what is sometimes a catastrophic foothold in the person's life.
I think there are a few important points here.
- Never get in over your head with a promise that you can't perform
- Make a decision to always be truthful in every situation
- Don't get overly legalistic with the term "oath"
- Steer completely clear of any oath that puts you or your family/home in a compromising position spiritually
Bless you my friend. I hope this gives you a little more input on this issue. May I add that I am open to any information which you might come across on this issue which might sharpen my position. Thanks for being in touch if the Lord should bring anything of the such your way.
(c) copyright 2005, Eric Barger