5.3.3.5 Oath–Vow

The question of whether it is permissible to take an oath by invoking–or to make a vow using–God's name is linked to the Second Commandment. While this was permitted in Israel (Deuteronomy 6: 13; Deuteronomy 10: 20), swearing was forbidden in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5: 33-37).

The inconsistent statements about swearing in the New Testament (James 5: 12; Romans 1: 9; 2 Corinthians 1: 23; Philippians 1: 8, etc.) allow us to conclude that the prohibition against swearing was not regarded as a general standard of conduct. Accordingly, Christian tradition applies Jesus Christ's prohibition only to frivolous swearing in daily life but not to taking an oath in a court of law, for example. When someone calls upon God as witness in a mandatory oath formulation ("So help me God")–in order to declare his obligation to be truthful to the Eternal One–he thereby publicly professes his faith in the omnipotent, omniscient God. Such an oath is not seen as a sin.

SUMMARY

With the name "Yahweh"–"I shall be who I shall be", or "I am who I am"–God identifies Himself as the One who is completely identical with Himself, unchangeable, and eternal. (5.3.3.1)

Blasphemy is the serious abuse of the name of God. (5.3.3.2)

The Second Commandment is the only Commandment that contains a threat of punishment. (5.3.3.3)

It admonishes keeping the name of God holy, also in one's conduct of life. (5.3.3.4)

Frivolous swearing while invoking God's name is a violation of the Second Commandment. (5.3.3.5)

See also