Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.
Chapter 23, Paragraph 2.
“…so a lawful Oath being imposed, by lawful Authority in such matters, ought to be taken.”
Opinions and questions abound concerning the nature of government. What is its purpose? How far should its arm reach into the everyday lives of its citizens? What is the relationship between the Christian and the government?
Christians are to be subject to their rulers (Romans 13). Every law of the land that does not conflict with the moral law is to be obeyed. When the Confession was formulated, the influence of the Quakers and their refusal to take oaths of any kind was widely known. Particular Baptists, persecuted for their nonconformity to the civil religion, were forced to ask themselves whether oath-taking was Biblical.
As we have seen, there are times when an oath is fitting. When the oath to be taken follows the Biblical parameters for a lawful oath, it is permissible for a Christian to take it. When the authority imposing the oath is lawful, then the oath should be taken. It is no sin to take a lawful oath administered by a lawful government. To do so is to submit to the lawful authorities, as we are directed to do in Romans 13.
Questions to Consider
- When would it be permissible to refuse an oath administered by the government?