In my meandering walk through #Rom2Rev, I have just re-read the book of James. I am reminded that the Old and New testiments have very different instructions in many things and one in particular caught my eye (again) – taking vows or oaths. As was often the case Jesus turned the old ideas on their heads.
In numbers 30:1-16 there are very specific instructions about taking vows and in particular, about the vows taken by women. In this long and detailed passage the message is that women can only make vows if those vows are approved by their father (if they are unmarried) or husband (if they are married). It is incredibly convoluted and as with many of the OT laws/rules must have made life difficult, particularly for women.
Reading this passage as part of a YouVersion plan last year, I looked at the views of other YouVersion readers for their thoughts. I noticed that most are pondering why women were not allowed to make up their own minds. However, some writers have taken this passage as instructions that even today we women cannot make our own decisions, but that we must always defer to our father and subsequently our husband or Pastor!
We no longer live in Old Testament times, we are not bound by the rules and regulations that the Ancient Jews had to follow.
We are commanded by Jesus not to make vows at all.
“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows , but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord .’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King . Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.
This is reiterated by the Lord’s brother in James 5:12
But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.
Jesus tells us to simply let our Yes mean Yes and our No mean No!