Thursday, January 24, 2013

"I Promise", "I Swear", and Other Oaths/Vows We Typically Don't Mean

The 57th Presidential Inauguration took place a few days ago, and I watched it from the comfort of my home, chilling on the couch, just me and baby girl, who was kicking away in my womb. I wasn't as into it as I was back in 2009, but you can read more about that in my last blog post.

I was probably more impressed by the singing than anything else that took place that day to be honest. But I watched everything straight through, from the arrival of the guests to the oath of office to that super boring poem (sorry Mister Sir, whoever you were). After all that had died down and Facebook and Twitter weren't quite as alight with statuses and tweets, I came across this status from Mark Driscoll that a friend had shared:

"Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe
 to take an oath to a God he likely does not know."

Controversial, eh? Last time I checked his Facebook page, that particular status had a whopping 2,735 comments and 3,189 shares. Talk about putting your stance out there and really getting a response! But let's get this straight now; this post is not meant to support or refute what Pastor Mark said, so let's just keep this moving.

When I read that status, my memory rewound to years, years back when I was young. I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home with parents who loved the Lord and loved each other and sought to teach their kids (all six of us!) the love and truth of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. They also instilled in us the importance of faith in the Word of God in it's entirety, as well as having a reverence for that same inspired, God-breathed Word.

Growing up, "I swear" was not a phrase that we were allowed to say. Maybe because "swear" can have more than one meaning...? Looking back, I can't even say for sure, but my I remember my parents feeling better about the phrase "I promise". And even when "I promise" was used, there was a heavy, daunting task that lay ahead of us, before those words even flowed our our lips. My parents would bring out...dun dun dun dunnnnnnn...... the BIBLE. Lol. So intense. But really. They put the fear of the LORD in us, so when we made a promise, many times we would put our hand on the Bible to show that what we were saying was in all truth, no lies. This didn't happen when it came to things like, "I promise to clean my room and do the dishes." No, this was more like when we got in trouble and my parents had nothing to go on but our word. So when we were honestly telling the truth (well, I speak for myself) I'd say, I'll put my hand on the Bible and promise I'm telling the truth!
Even at a young age, I didn't take that lightly. Though I didn't accept Christ as my personal Savior until I was 11 years old, I had a healthy enough fear of the God of the universe to know that swearing/promising anything on His book that was anything less than the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth could have devastating consequences for me. And it helped that I was a terrible liar, so no way was I even going to attempt lying to God and my parents and having both of them see right through it. (Oh, my childish mind those days...)

So anyways, back to the quote from Mark Driscoll. That thing really weighed on me! I wonder whether all these presidents, past and present, really realized that what they were doing was not simply a tradition; they were making an oath, a promise, a vow to the God of creation on His holy Word! Some may say that I'm looking at it in too extreme a fashion, but when I view how big and great and holy and righteous and perfect God is.....and then there's me. What a blessing that He meets us where we are, but when we swear by His Word, we better realize that we swear by One greater than ourselves! And if we say we do realize that, do we actually live like it? In fear and reverence and obedience to Him? Hmmm. Asking myself that question too!
Hebrews really sums up all my rambling in these few verses:

I don't think it's necessary to expound much more on that; pretty straightforward if you ask me. An oath, a promise, to pledge do something is and should be considered more than just a good intention. James even goes as far as to say this:

The fact is, we're human, and as humans even our best plans and intentions can come to naught. Unfortunately these days "my word is my bond" isn't sufficient to most people, and why? Well, for one people don't take their word as seriously and also just because people fail. As believers, we should be seeking to do just as this verse says, let our yes be yes and our no be no! This is shown in our actions, not our intentions. Just do it! Keep it as simple as the Word says, because when we intensify that with an oath, we run the risk of falling under condemnation for not being able to keep that which we've confirmed we'd do before God. (That's part of why marriage vows are so, so, SO important!! Another blog post, hmmm....)

Thank God for grace in the midst of all of our imperfections and failings! I know I've had my share of them, and the Lord has been merciful in light of them. However instead of making the same mistakes over and over again, we can glean from the guidance we find in God's Word and align our actions accordingly!

Are there things you do or specific steps you take in order to make sure you're able to do and keep up with all the things you agree to do or not do? 
I'd love to hear about it! I'm sure we can help each other grow and learn how to keep our word-- to the best of the ability the Lord gives us!
(I'll use myself as an example: I've learned to keep my planner with me and keep it updated and accurate so that I don't overbook myself and end up having to go back on something I already agreed to do. Yes, it can be as simple as that!)

Hope to hear from ya'll!

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