Opinion

Oath Taking and Political Subterfuge

We need to stop presidents from taking their constitutional oath with their hand on the Bible, swearing before God that they will uphold the Constitution all the while knowing they won’t. Their campaigns and policies tell us that they will not follow the Constitution to the letter. The Constitution is a prop. It’s no different with Congress and Supreme Court Justices.

Taking an oath before God is serious business. Violating that oath can bring grave consequences. The Bible says as much:

  • You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the Lord (Lev. 19:12).
  • If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth (Num. 30:2).
  • When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the Lord your God will surely require it of you. However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God, what you have promised (Deut. 23:23).

Atheists will argue that since there is no God, using the Bible to swear an oath is little more than political theater to appease the religious masses. They get the appeasement right, but they are dead wrong on there being no God. Belief in God is an inescapable concept. With the One True God out of the way, the State becomes God. The 20th century is filled with examples of atheist regimes and the bloodletting they left behind.

Jesus says that a person’s “yes” should mean “yes” and his “no” no” (Matt. 5:34). No props are needed. An oath not kept is a violation of the Third Commandment. Taking God’s name in vain brings with it judgment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Ex. 20:7). James B. Jordan offers a more literal translation and meaning of the commandment: “You shall not carry the name of Yahweh, your Elohim, emptily, for Yahweh will not acquit the one who carries His name emptily.”

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Swearing by or on something doesn’t make a vow or an oath any more sincere, and that includes swearing to something with a hand on the Bible.

Image result for oath taken on bible presidents washington

An oath assumes a world where God is sovereign and there are divine consequences to lying. Most people don’t believe our world is governed in terms of a sovereign God. Violating an oath for swearing falsely is viewed as a sin against the State, not against God.

Jesus says a number of things about taking an oath.

Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, “YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE Lord.” But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, “Yes, yes” or “No, no”; anything beyond these is of evil (Matt. 5:34–37; also see James 5:12).

Better “not to swear at all” than to swear falsely.

Since a majority of Americans have tolerated and even encouraged presidents not to keep their constitutional oath before God, it’s no wonder that our nation is under judgment.

The Bible, like the Constitution, is a prop used by politicians to endear themselves to low-information religious voters. Millions of Americans will say, “The President must be a sincere man of God since he’s taken his presidential oath with his hand on the Bible. He wouldn’t lie.” Yes, he would, and so would nearly every politician who takes an oath to uphold the Constitution.

Even letting your “yes be yes” requires some higher authority. This means that it can’t be done with a man-made document:

Kyrsten Sinema chose not to hold the traditional Bible when she was sworn in … as a U.S. senator from Arizona. Instead, she held a copy of the Constitution. A spokesperson for the first-term Democrat said she chose to use a book from the Library of Congress that contains the texts of the Arizona and U.S. Constitutions, reports azcentral.com. “Kyrsten always gets sworn in on a Constitution simply because of her love for the Constitution,” Sinema spokesman John LaBombard told the local news outlet.

While Sinema is religiously “unaffiliated,” the Preamble to the Arizona Constitution reads as follows: “We the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution.”

When a politician takes his oath with his hand on the Bible and vowing to uphold it, he will be lying. Sen. Sinema also was lying. Of course, they won’t be the first or the last politicians not to take their vows seriously. If they did, we would be living in a much different country.

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