Oaths—Taking Them In Court.
Question (1971)—Is it proper to take an oath before testifying in court, since Jesus told us not to take oaths, but to let our yea be yea, and our nay be nay (Matt. 5:37)?
Answer.—Jesus evidently did not forbid our taking an oath before testifying in court; for He Himself answered the high priest after being put under oath by the latter (Matt. 26:63-66). Jesus prohibited the brethren taking oaths in their conversation with one another, even as He says, “Let your communication (conversation) be yea, yea; nay, nay.” The propriety of this prohibition is a twofold one: (1) oriental people, including the Jews from ancient times have been accustomed to make oath to almost every statement they make in private conversation, which of course tends to profane and belittle the oath, and which, accordingly, Jesus’ followers should not do; and (2) it should not be done by the Lord’s brethren to one another, because an oath in private conversation implies that the oath-taker’s word of itself without an oath is not to be very much trusted, whereas the brethren should trust one another. So viewed Jesus’ statement is a sober principle, but has no reference to court’s requiring an oath from witnesses. On the other hand, as is manifest from court procedure in Israel, it is a matter of natural justice for courts to require witnesses to testify under oath, because an oath, adding greater solemnity and responsibility to the testimony, since he thereby calls upon God to testify to the truthfulness of his statements, conduces to make him more careful “to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” ’71-55
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