I Swear [thoughts from the Cutting Floor]

by Nate Powell
After last week’s sermon, a member of our church hit me up with a question. “So does Jesus want us to take vows in our marriages? Or is that wrong?”
The inspiration for the question was quite appropriate. We noted in Matthew 5:31-32 that Jesus has a very high view of marriage. Divorce is to be a last resort and for very limited reason. In the verses that follow (Matthew 5:33-37), Jesus speaks of not taking oaths or swearing to anything, but simply letting our yes mean yes, and our no mean no. So the question stands … Is Jesus saying we shouldn’t take marriage vows?
To the contrary, Jesus is affirming the limited oaths that we take. To take an oath of marriage is perfectly appropriate. We make a promise, and we resolve to keep it. The problem lies when we use oaths frivolously. In Jesus’ time, oaths were being manipulated. At times they would invoke God’s name in the oath, to say if it were a more serious oath or not. The oaths were a ploy to allow an individual to get away with their word if they didn’t swear to God or swear by heaven. Jesus says that in all matters, his followers should be truthful, and shouldn’t be people who twist words, white lie, or invoke that things were true “for me at the time it was convenient.” Yes should mean yes and no should mean know when coming from the lips of a disciple of Jesus.
So keep making your vows in marriage, and keep keeping them. What matters to God is that we are truthful and keep the covenants we make.