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Matthew 5:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is God's throne; or by the earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great king. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is 'Yes' if you mean yes, 'No' if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.


I remember many years ago, my primary school friends and I were swearing on various things. Once, my dad, who was not yet baptised then, caught me in the act. He scolded me and told me not to swear on anything. And since then, I haven't.

Why do we not swear? Simply because when we swear, we are making an oath. One of the more well-known places that people make oaths is in the courtroom. Indeed there have been Christians who got into legal trouble because they have refused to swear on the Bible… maybe not here, but in America, yes.

Do you swear? Perhaps you don't think so, but have you ever heard of minced oaths? A minced oath is an expression based on a profanity which has been altered to reduce or remove the disagreeable or objectionable characteristics of the original expression. Huh? What this means is that instead of saying 'shit' in polite company, you say 'shoot'. However, the profanities on which minced oaths are based are usually religious in nature.

Here are some examples:
For Christ's sake - self-explanatory
Jesus - Gee, gee whiz, Jebus, sheesh
By Jesus - bajeebers
God - golly, gosh
God damn - self-explanatory

While not being swears themselves, it is good to know where such expressions come from, especially if you use them frequently.

Ultimately, what Jesus is teaching his disciples today is not to swear on anything because nothing belongs to you, not even your own body… which is somewhat a slightly easier teaching than what he's taught them in the readings of the past few days.

Let us pray that we might be able to gradually eliminate all forms of swearing from our everyday speech, so that we might truly say what we mean, and truly mean what we say.

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