ABOUT THE CUSTOM OF TAKING A SWEAR AND ABOUT GOD’S TAKING SWEAR

Over time the oath has acquired various forms and expressions. Very often the oath is accompanied by a desire to be punished by God. Some say: “If I tell a lie, let God punish me” and other similar expressions. Isn’t this behavior using God’s name for personal interests?

In the gospel, we see that despite the ban to swear imposed by Christ, the apostle Peter swears. When Christ was sent to the jail, he followed Him by his desire to be beside the Lord.

But when the people, gathered in the courtyard of the high priest, recognized him, saying that you are one of Christ’s disciples, Peter swears that he does not know Christ (Matthew 26.72).

Peter’s swearing and denial came from his fear. Afterward, the apostle repented for this and wept bitterly (Matthew 26.75). The Bible talks about God’s taking swear. We can read this in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. By the act of swearing, God promised to Abraham and his descendants the desired land (Gen. 24:7, 26:3, 50:24, Exodus 6:8, 33:1, Num. 32:11, Deuteronomy 1:8, 4:31, 6:10, 18, etc.). God swore to deprive of the promised land those who are disobedient to Him, (Deuteronomy 1:34, 4:21, Heb. 3:11, 17), He swore to David that from his seed will be the birth of Christ (Ps. 131.11).

About God’s taking swear the apostle Paul says: “God made a promise to Abraham because He could swear by no greater, He swore by Himself” (Heb. 6:13-14). St. Gregory the Theologian explains that God’s every word is an oath because God cannot say inaccurate things. For this reason, the words of God are compared to the oath and His promise – with the act of swear.

According to Gregory the Theologian, in the Old Testament swear was habitual, and maybe it would remain continuous if people did not do false oaths, did not use the oath for cheating. Christ came to complete the law as He says: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). And this also applies to the vows.

According to Gregory the Theologian in the Old Testament people were punished for sin, but in the New Testament even the thought of sin, the movement towards sin are prohibited (Matt. 5:28). In this way, the oath, taking swear is unacceptable too. Jerome, one of the authors of the Catholic Church, draws attention to the fact that Christ forbids swear by heaven or earth, by one’s person, but He says nothing about taking a swear in the name of God, about which there is an order in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6:13).

The man swears by the dearest thing for him. And since God is the dearest for the believer, therefore, also referring to the Old Testament commandment, it is acceptable to swear by God. Jerome’s viewpoint, however, is the opinion, which did not spread in the teachings of the Church.

People’s taking swear is being done in the view as they would receive a penalty from a supernatural force, from God in the case of the wrong word of testimony. For that reason during oaths man often considers the penalties too.

With an oath, punishment has the sense that if the evidence is a lie, so let divine punishment be given to the life of those people, by whose name the oath is done. Those, who have the habit to swear, should remember the ban of our Lord Jesus Christ and try to reinforce their honesty and other virtues, with which the habit or necessity to swear will disappear.