Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.
Chapter 23, Paragraph 5.
“A Vow which is not to be made to any Creature, but to God alone, is to be made and performed with all Religious care and faithfulness:….”
At first glance, the beginning of paragraph 5 seems to simply reiterate what has been stated before. We know already that oaths are only to be made to God, that they are to be made with solemnity and care, and that they are a part of religious worship. So are the writers reveling in wordiness here? Ah, but look – there is a slight difference in this paragraph, but an important one. Rather than talking of an “oath”, this speaks of a “vow”.
Aren’t oaths and vows the same thing? Actually, no. Lawrence R. Eyres, in an article in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s magazine New Horizons, explains thus: “Vows differ from oaths in that an oath calls for divine judgment upon oath breakers, yet since vows are taken in the name of God, “the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” We do not call upon God to judge us when we take a vow, but that does not negate the care and faithfulness with which we should perform it.
Christians are not created to live in isolation. We are called to join together in local assemblies, where we are encourage one another, share each other’s burdens, and exhort our brothers and sisters to press onward towards the prize in Christ Jesus. To do this, we formally become members of a church. Christian, when you joined the membership of your church, did you not make any vows?
There are times when you may need to leave the church of which you are a member, and with good reason. But how many Christians who consider removing their membership think through the vows they made to their fellow brothers and sisters? Too often the promises made are quickly forgotten in the shadow of discontent and strife. Christian, do not neglect the vows you have made. Strive to uphold them as long as it is lawful to do so.
Questions to Consider
- Do you remember the words of the vows you have taken?