posted on Oct, 29 2008 @ 11:55 PM
the issue between Masonic Oaths and Christianity to see if I can‘t shed some light on some questions such as whether or not are oaths "strictly
forbidden in the scriptures"? Are oaths "in direct violation of the Word of God"? Does "the Word of God plainly tells us not to swear"? Perhaps
there is no better place to begin this exposition of oaths than by explaining what we mean when we speak of oaths. Simply stated, an oath is a
promise. More particularly, an oath or promise is simply an agreement entered into between one person and another whereby the one taking the oath
calls upon God to witness. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: 1) solemn affirmation made with an appeal to God for the truth of what is affirmed.
2) In law, solemn declaration necessary as a condition to the filling of an office, or of giving evidence in a court; (a) assertory oaths, where
something is asserted as true; (b) promissory oath, by which something is promised. 3) Irreverent or profane use of the name of God or any sacred
thing to express anger or emphasize a statement. The point of contention arises from the “Christian Anti Mason” writers and their interpretation
on taking oaths. From the New Testament they use passages like the Fifth Chapter of James, the 12th verse : "But above all things, my brethren, swear
not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into
condemnation." Another scripture that is often quoted against the taking of oaths comes from, the book of Zechariah the Eighth chapter the 17th verse
where it says: "And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these [are things] that I hate,
saith the LORD." It is scripture such as these that are generally used to support the condemning of the taking of any oaths. However, by examining
other scriptures, such as those found in the Thirtieth chapter of Numbers, the Eleventh chapter of Jeremiah, the 6th and 7th Chapter of Hebrews, among
others we find actually that not only are there instances where the taking of oaths are important to God, but that keeping them is required of Him.
The majority of us have taken oaths, both formally and informally at different stages in our lives. The marriage vows are actually oaths before God
and witnesses "I take thee to be my lawful wedded wife and I do promise and covenant before God and these witnesses to be thy loving and faithful
husband, in sickness and in health...” Should we have to attend court and be called to testify, we have to take an oath to "tell the truth, the
whole truth and nothing but the truth." This oath also has a penalty attached should we fail in that obligation. Even when we tell someone says "I
promise... fill in the blank" you are actually taking an oath to that person. What most people fail to realize is that an oath is what we do when we
make a promise, or make a commitment. What those people who say, “you shouldn’t take oaths" really in all honesty should be saying is “you
should not take an oath which conflicts with your duty to God." Anyone reading anything from a Grand Lodge or the Masonic Information Center will
easily find written, “Without interfering in religious practice, it expects each member to follow his own faith and to place his Duty to God above
all other duties”. That Masons agree with this principle, Mackey’s Revised Encyclopedia states: “the Masonic obligation is that moral one which
is not enforced in the courts of law, is binding on the party who makes it”. Much as the pledge or oath of allegiance is which all American recite
The taking of an oath is not something that should be entered into lightly we read in Numbers 30:2 “when a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an
oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said”.
This according to the Matthew Henry Complete Commentary may be meant, either;
1. of those promises to which God is a party, vows made to God; these must be punctually paid (Eccl. 5:4, 5): or, 2. Of those promises made to our
brethren, to which God was a Witness, he being appealed to concerning our sincerity; these must be performed to the Lord, with an eye to him, and for
his sake: for to him, by ratifying the promises with an oath, we have made ourselves debtors; and if we break a promise so ratified, we have not lied
unto men only, but unto God.
On both points Masons would agree on and Masonic principles would support.
Our entire duty is to GOD, our country, our neighbor, and our own self is or should be evident the performance of every activity whether, religious,
political and social. In comparison with what Jesus says about letting your yes be yes, etc., it's quite clear that the meaning is not to utter idle
promises but to let your WORD be true, just as the WORD of God is true. “We read in the Book of Ruth that to confirm all things a man plucked off
his shoe and gave it to his neighbor, and this was testimony in Israel ”. Giving one's shoe shows the same intent as giving one's word: it is how
we desire to testify to the sincerity of our intention in the business in which we are engaged.
The oaths that we take as Masons are to be considered and remembered and adhered to, just as any other oath or promise that we take. We as “just
and upright men” should remember that we are making a serious commitment. We have taken them on a Volume of the Sacred Law which is the guide for
our faith and the rule of our lives. Clearly we have all taken an obligation on that book, vowing to conduct our lives in accordance with its
precepts. Our ritual includes references to: purity of life and conduct; being good and true; practicing the domestic and public virtues; squaring our
actions by the Square of virtue; and displaying discretion, virtue and dignity. But even the most explicit laws or lists of do's and don'ts or
standards of conduct are futile if those they apply to lack the basic character to abide by them. Some anti-Masonic writers have complained about the
so-called "penalties" in the Masonic obligations. The much discussed "penalties," judicial remnants from an earlier era, are symbolic, not
literal. They refer only to the pain any honest man should feel at the thought of violating his word.
Please consider the following details from the scriptures themselves. That oaths are permissible to Christians is shown by the example of our Lord
(Matthew 26:63), and of Paul (2 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 1:20) and even of God Himself (Hebrews 6:13-18). Consequently when Christ said, "Swear
not at all" (Matthew 5:34), He was laying down the principle that the Christian must not have two standards of truth, but that his ordinary speech
must be as sacredly true as his oath. As Masons we have an “unerring Standard of Truth” and we are taught that,” We are to regard the Sacred
Volume of Law as the Great Light in our profession and to consider it as our unerring standard of Truth and justice. Just as we are taught of our duty
we owe to God”. Understanding this we as Masons could not possibly have two standards of Truth.
The Biblical Law regarding an oath is refers to the invoking of a curse upon one's self if one has not spoken the truth (Matthew 26:74), or if one
fails to keep a promise (1 Samuel 19:6; 20:17; 2 Samuel 15:21; 19:23). It played a very important part, not only in lawsuits (Exodus 22:11; Leviticus
6:3,5), and also in the dealings of everyday life (Genesis 24:37; 50:5; Judges 21:5; 1 Kings 18:10; Ezra 10:5). The Mosaic laws concerning oaths were
not meant to limit the widespread custom of making oaths, so much as to impress upon the people the sacredness of an oath, forbidding on the one hand
swearing falsely (Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:12; Zechariah 8:17, etc.) . Evidently, it is swearing in common intercourse and on frivolous occasions
that is here meant. Frivolous oaths were indeed severely condemned in the teaching of the times.
Though some Christians continue to teach that the Third commandment in particular and Scripture in general forbid all oaths, they have used such
passages as Matt. 5:33-37 and James 5:12 wherein we find the oft-quoted command "swear not at all" to support their view. And at a glance, these
passages appear to indeed forbid all oaths. Yet in Defense of our use of Oaths or Obligations we have found that by carefully interpreting these
passages, that Christ was merely correcting Pharisaical and scribal abuses and misinterpretations of God's standards when it come to oaths. When
interpreted in light of the general context of Scripture as a whole and in light of the particular context, we have seen that far from forbidding all
oaths, Christ and James forbade only unlawful oaths and defined the guidelines for taking oaths, and refuted common excuses for breaking oaths.
Those guidelines to me would fall into four categories: 1. the oath must be necessary, 2. what you are about to say must be true, or you must do what
you are about to promise. 3. You must be prepared to abide by your oath no matter how your personal interests or circumstances may change and 4. The
reason for the oath must be Moral. Oddly enough while some Christians erroneously teach that Scripture forbids all oaths, still others erroneously
teach that Scripture only sanctions public oaths for example oaths given in a public context, usually extracted by public officials. This view simply
does not accord with the full weight of Scripture. Many oaths in Scripture are made between private individuals acting solely in a private capacity as
in Abraham to Abimelech, Abraham's servant to Abraham, Isaac to Abraham, Jacob to Laban and Boaz to Ruth among many others.
I think it is important to point out last fact. That is to point out how many pastors; preachers and theologians have been members of our fraternity.
I find it odd that none of these men who have been called by God to preach have not denounced their membership in our Ancient and honorable
fraternity. Men like Norman Vincent Peale, George W. Truett, Peter C. Marshall, James C. Baker, William R. White, William F. Anderson and many, many
more. I think it is worthy to note that the religious critics of the Craft fall into the same trap that the conspiracy critics fall into. They take
one aspect of our organization and redefine or re-interpret it. Or use an author quotes out of context and apply it to the fraternity as a whole.
They take the actions of a few to taint their view of all of us. And this is not only inaccurate, but it is dishonest. When they cast us all in a
negative light just because of the actions of a few only goes to show how short-sighted some critics are It would be on par with condemning all of
Catholicism for having a few child molesting priests Should we denigrate all preachers just because a few of them have stolen or committed adultery?
The answer, obviously, is no.
Our initiations and ceremonies represent may only be a minute fraction of the time that someone spends in Masonry, but they have a large impact and
are extremely meaningful in the lives of our members. So the bottom line after it is all said and done is that it comes down to the individual as to
whether or not their beliefs as Christians are compatible taking oaths, affiliating with professions such as doctors, in join the military, fire or
police department or even a political office. What we must remember is that the only person who is the absolute authority on ANY subject regarding
Christianity is God. For anyone else to pretend to have all the answers is pompous and arrogant.
[edit on 29-10-2008 by KYCH/32KCCH]