Quiet Testimony

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There is always some lively discussion going on over at God’s Gal’s blog and recently she posted something about the Pledge of Allegience

This got me to thinking about pledges, oaths and vows and how important they are, if at all. Hypothetically let’s say that:

There are two men;

One is openly patriotic, flies the flag, stands with hand over heart while singing the national anthem and reciting the Pledge of Allegience.

The other man disdains overt displays of patriotism. For unspoken personal reasons he will not fly the flag nor will he rescite the pledge.

War is declared.

The first man comes from a wealthy influential family and is able to defer his military service by attending university. He is outspoken in support of the war effort. After graduation he becomes a successful politician.

The second man is opposed to the war, is even very vocal about it. He is drafted and sent overseas. In battle he throws himself atop a grenade that lands in the midst of his platoon. He dies of his wounds.

There are two couples;

One couple meet at a dance and are smitten with each other. They go out on a date, the first time for either of them. They agree to go steady.

Another couple meet at the same dance and also find each other attractive. They go out as well, but they decide not to take things too fast. They continue to date other people.

Both couples fall in love.

The first couple becomes engaged and after two years they marry. They are married in a traditional church ceremony. They make public their vows of commitment to each other. Within a few years their relationship sours and they agree to separate. They finally divorce.

The second couple realize that they feel incomplete when they are apart. They decide to live together but they do not marry. They have no vows other than to treat each other with love and respect. They keep these vows very private. 25 years later they are still together.

There are two students;

One is a Christian. She is a member of a church, has been baptised in a public ceremony and is very outspoken about her faith. She regularly shares her comittment to God with others and declares openly that she has aaccepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

The other young lady claims no religious affiliation. She does not belong to any formal church and does not attend worship services. She also has a relationsip with Christ, though she is uncomfortable with identifying herself as a “Christian”. She tends to be much more quiet about her faith.

They both graduate and begin their careers.

The first woman is a successful claims adjustor with a large insurance company. She is being rewarded with a substantial bonus. She was able to find legal precedent for refusing a significant number of their client’s claims. This has saved her company millions of dollars. Although she is a little uneasy over this, she can not afford to change careers at this time. She keeps the bonus money.

The second woman recently lost her job as a very successful automobile salesperson. She refused to sell some used cars that she knew to have serious mechanical defects. Even though she is earning considerably less now, she thoroughly enjoys her new job selling heavily discounted college text books.

Although fictionalized, all of these characters and their circumstances are very similar to people that I know. I can understand the importance of making a personal public committment. But I wonder as to the effectiveness of insisting on others doing so as well.

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  1. #1 by Christian on February 22, 2008 - 9:14 pm

    Usually. Not always. I wonder about something like the pledge. What does it meant to ally oneself to a national symbol? I am sure it means different things to different people. For some it equates with ‘my country, right or wrong’ or ‘America, love it or leave it’. Some see the potential for human freedom that the flag represents. Others may link the flag to US excess and repression, at home and abroad. Still others may look at the flag much as they look upon the uniform of their favorite sports team. So these words have meaning but do they always have the same meaning?

  2. #2 by logiopath on February 23, 2008 - 6:14 pm

    There, unless used as a location, has no meaning. Dr. Lillywhite at Towson University calls it an explative–a word with no meaning. How explative was switched to mean profanity (or an oath) during the watergate debacle is unknown to me.

    So with so–many uses, few meanings.

  3. #3 by logiopath on February 23, 2008 - 6:14 pm

    P. S. the Pledge is a loyalty oath–Jesus told us not to swear oaths-I swear.

  4. #4 by inWorship on February 24, 2008 - 1:16 am

    “P. S. the Pledge is a loyalty oath–Jesus told us not to swear oaths-I swear.”

    I think you are on to something here. I have always thought about this. Bring up some scriptures, I’d like to hear the bible’s take on this. I think this is a good angle to this discussion.

  5. #5 by Christian on February 24, 2008 - 10:37 am

    Bruce does point out the obvious. In Matthew 5, Jesus does speak against oath taking. To me, the statement ” let your yes be yes and your no be no” means to speak honestly and sincerely, but do not make idle promises or statement merely to satisfy someone else’s requirements. There is no need to constantly make affirmations of what you believe or what you find to be important, if it is so then let your actions prove it. Otherwise it is just hot air, or as Brent says, political rhetoric.

    Of course, I’m often accused of having a non-biblical perspective on things so I checked out Matthew Henry’s Commentary (which I don’t always agree with). Here is what it says:

    5:33-37 There is no reason to consider that solemn oaths in a court of justice, or on other proper occasions, are wrong, provided they are taken with due reverence. But all oaths taken without necessity, or in common conversation, must be sinful, as well as all those expressions which are appeals to God, though persons think thereby to evade the guilt of swearing. The worse men are, the less they are bound by oaths; the better they are, the less there is need for them. Our Lord does not enjoin the precise terms wherein we are to affirm or deny, but such a constant regard to truth as would render oaths unnecessary.

    I think the Pledge is really a political statement and in essence is not much different than a martial salute such as what we see in the military (a tried and true sign of discipline, respect and order) and with the (please, forgive me) fascists. The people who raised their arms in salute to Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin initially did not realize (not all of them ever did) that they were professing allegiance to evil. The United States does not represent evil, or course. But at times it has been guilty of great acts of evil manifested by jingoistic foreign policies as well as a trampling of it’s own citizen’s rights. Patriotic pledges and anthems can, at times, deter citizens from questioning their county’s direction.

  6. #6 by logiopath on February 24, 2008 - 6:06 pm

    Yes. Hmm. I’ve heard you swear many oaths, and I doubt you would take The Pledge.

    Ambrosiac

  7. #7 by hoverfrog on February 25, 2008 - 12:56 pm

    I like inWorship’s comment “I think that an oath is a statement to action. One doesn’t take an oath unless they intend to live by it. Or at least they shouldn’t.”

    If you want someone to swear allegiance to a flag (a symbol of the nation) then you need to ensure that the oath is accessible to everyone. If you don’t then you create a situation where some people are going to refuse to give that oath. It is feasible that you could end up with a divided nation if you allow this to continue.

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