Dan Popp
"She took an oath"
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By Dan Popp
September 19, 2015

In our laws ... by the oath which they prescribe, we appeal to the Supreme Being so to deal with us hereafter as we observe the obligation of our oaths. – Rufus King

When Kim Davis was in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses, lots of people started to spout phrases like, "law of the land" and "She took an oath." It came up again in the recent Republican debates. "She took an oath to uphold the laws," said one of the supposed good guys. Someone tweeted, "Elected officials put their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution; they don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." This is true, but it means exactly the opposite of what the godless suppose.

Here's an analogy: You go to get a loan. On the way to the bank, you pick up someone with much better financial resources than yourself to have him or her cosign the loan. This financially superior person will guarantee to the bank that, if you don't pay up, he or she will. How is this like an oath of office? Because both are promises to do something in the future. The future is uncertain. In order to ensure your performance, someone greater than you is brought into the transaction.

An oath is always sworn on "someone greater:" For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself.... (Hebrews 6:13, NKJV) Someone who puts his hand on the Bible is swearing on a symbol representing the presence of God.

It seems like we're all in Special Ed, with me having to say that an oath is an appeal to God. But that's why it's so ludicrous that "She took an oath" should be used to support the government sanction of sin. "She took an oath" to God – to the same God who said that a man shall not lie with a man as with a woman. How is that oath going to force her to endorse what God condemns?

That would put every elected official in the position of "damned if you do, damned if you don't," quite literally.

An oath is not primarily a prayer asking God for help in doing our duty; it is an invitation to God to be a witness to our current intentions and future actions. If you break your oath, so we believe, the legal penalty for perjury will be the least of your worries. You're inviting God to punish you as a wicked sinner if you don't do what you said you would do. You are calling down a curse upon yourself should you renege on your promise.

A frequent biblical phrase is, "May the LORD do so to me, and more besides, if I do not...." This is the origin of the "so help me, God" part of our oaths. Not, "help me, God, to do this," but "bring this back on my own head if I don't do it." The curse and the oath are often seen together in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the men who vowed to kill Paul said they had taken a "great oath," or literally, "With an anathema we have anathematized ourselves." (Young's Literal Translation) The oath which they took damned them to hell, just as Jesus said: For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:37, NKJV)

An oath is much more serious than the she-took-an-oath parrots understand. It's not an oath to do wrong if required; it could never be. A person who takes an oath to God acknowledges God as the controlling authority, right from the start. Anyone who expects immoral acts from a sworn government official doesn't understand what an oath is.

I guess they think she could give God the excuse that she was "only following orders."

© Dan Popp

 

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