Jesus says: Stop Swearing to God (in a secular society)

In an increasingly secular society, it's becoming less and less common for people to assert the truthfulness of what they say by backing it up with a good old-fashioned "I swear to God..."

And to some degree, I'm pretty happy with that.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clearly condemned such behavior:
"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."  ~ Matthew 5:34-37 (NASB)
This is a pretty simple teaching from Jesus.  Jesus says we need to stop trying to manipulate others by invoking the name of God in order to back up the truthfulness of what we say.

Our lives should be so full of integrity that we are known to be a trustworthy person who follows through on what we say. If we promise something to our boss or to a customer at work, they should sleep well at night knowing that we are fully dependable and will deliver what we have promised exactly as we have said.

And of course, living in a secular society, invoking an oath in the name of God is increasingly out of fashion.  So we resort to other behavior which Jesus also condemned in the above teaching.

For example, salesmen have this tendency to over promise on what they plan on giving to a client.  They often make outlandish claims as to the superiority of their product and service, promise the sky, set unrealistic deadlines, and project expenses that often end up being drastically lower than what a project often ends up costing.

You also see this a lot in the world of politics too.  "We can build that new state of the art stadium for only 125 million dollars," only to see that stadium project costing the tax payers 200 million dollars.

Additionally, a lot of businesses will try to convince you they are the right man for the job because of testimonials they solicited from their clients; they have a strong reputation with the BBB; or because of a celebrity endorsement received from a beloved public figure.  Spectrum Brands sold over 100 million kitchen top grills because they were able to get George Foreman to back it with his image and reputation.

All of this stuff might make for great marketing.  It makes a lot of people filthy rich.

But at the end of the day, this behavior is fundamentally no different than the behavior that Jesus condemned.  It's all an attempt to manipulate others in engaging in a desired behavior based on the invoking of somebody or something else perceived as greater and more sacred than our own word.  Our word isn't holy enough.  But, if it comes from the mouth of George Foreman, then that is gospel.

We might not be swearing by God much these days, but we are definitely swearing to others "by Jerusalem," or in other words, things others perceive as holy and sacred, even in a secular society.

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