The Oath and the Truth

The quotes below are taken from The Third Commandment Oath and Society by R.J. Rushdoony.

My comments are in bold, including the headings (as immediately below).

The Third Commandment and a Red Herring

The Third and the Ninth commandments are very closely related. Both are concerned with speech. The Third Commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. For the Lord will not hold him guiltless who taketh his name in vain.” The Ninth, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Both are concerned with speech. But one has reference to God. The other, to man.

Commentators and preachers who deal with the Third Commandment act as though this had primary reference to bad language. This is a misinterpretation of the text. Its primary reference is to the oath, the legal oath in particular. And yet the misunderstanding here is very prevalent. When Reverend Robert Ingram in his The World Under God’s Law wrote on this commandment, and I quote, “All legal procedure involving so-called civil disputes is clearly in the Third Commandment. And it would certainly carry over its importance into the realm of criminal law.” Unquote. Many ministers (and I heard this from a number of them who otherwise thought the book was a very fine one), refused to recommend it to their members because of this statement. They wanted the Third Commandment to have primary reference to the use of bad language. But as Ingram pointed out, an entire conformity with everything that the Bible and Church History has taught us, its primary reference is to the legal oath; the oath of office. The oath of witnesses. This is that which the commandment refers to.

The Third Commandment Oath and Society by R.J. Rushdoony

Our religious leadership place a far greater weight on appearance, than on reality.

On ugly language, and not the corruption of oaths before a court of law.

Filthy language degrades out thinking, and is a sin: but the main focus of God is on justice, and corrupt oaths — lying before a court of law, and so perverting justice, stealing it from the innocent (who represents God!) — is a far more dangerous and weighty matter than degrading your mind and your heart (which, granted, is also a road that leads to blindness and death.)

The Third Commandment and the Core of Truth and Justice

The stability of any society depends upon a common regard for truth. The stability of any church depends upon the faithfulness of the clergy to their ordination vow or oath. The stability of marriage, which is the foundation socially of any society, depends upon the faithfulness of man and wife to the marital vows or oaths. We can immediately understand how far we’ve come. With respect to marriage, it used to be the standard practice that in case of divorce, the guilty party suffered legal penalties–punishment. They had committed an offense against society. This has long-since disappeared. So that the law today in effect says in the event of a divorce that both parties are innocent or both parties are guilty, it makes no difference. It was once mandatory that when a pastor had any change of idea with respect of scripture after his ordination vow, he was duty-bound to report it to the conference, to the synod, to the presbytery, to the bishop or whatever the jurisdiction in his church. This has long-since disappeared. And today they casually violate their ordination vows almost from the beginning.

I shall never forget when I had just entered seminary, listening as a senior classman returned from his examination before a Methodist committee. And he was asked how he had done, and he said, “I came through with flying colors, both according to their scoring, and mine. I affirmed all the articles of religion without believing a one of them.” This young man, a Methodist, has since gone very far and is now a prominent scholar in one of the most important universities in the United States.

And today in our courts of law, the witness’s oath means nothing. The most flagrant kinds of lies are routine. The oath of office to uphold the Constitution, again, means nothing. But the oath is important. It is basic to society. In the oath, man promises to live by his word, by the oath he has taken, as God keeps his word–absolutely. In taking an oath, a man invokes all the judgments of God for violation of that oath. And although men today may have no regard for the oath, God declares he will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

If the church will not pay heed to God’s Commandments, no one will.

This willful disobedience and contempt for God’s Name on the part of the clergy and the church teachers does not save the world, or grant it license to remain filthy.

It merely means that the disobedient churches will be punished and crushed under God’s wrath first. Then, the world in general, for their own sins and wickedness.

A Example of Biblical Case Law

Now in terms of this, let us turn to our scripture. Leviticus 24, verses 10 – 16.

This is a difficult one for the modern mind to understand. Because of course we have lost the sense of blasphemy, of cursing, false cursing having relationship to the oath, to the legal oath. Now let us read a portion of this from the ancient Chaldean version, which is, to an extent, a paraphrase and which will tell us from pre-Christian times how the Hebrews understood this. “While the Israelites were dwelling in the wilderness, he, this half Danite, half Egyptian man, sought to pitch his tent in the midst of the tribe of the children of Dan. But they would not let him. Because, according to the order of Israel, every man according to his order dwelt with his family by the {?} of his father’s house. And they strove together in the camp. Whereupon the son of the Israelitish woman and the man of Israel who is of the tribe of Dan went into the house of judgment.” Now do you see the context? There was a set place for everyone to pitch their tent as they moved through the wilderness. According to the {?} of their father. If your father was an Danite, then you pitched your tent in the area assigned to Dan. But this man’s father was Egyptian. And so there was a separate place for those that were of an Egyptian background to pitch their tents. His grandfather was Danite. And he sought to pitch his tent among the Danites but he was told ‘this is not your place.’ They quarreled. Therefore, they went into the house of judgment, into court. The judgment was given by the court. And he denied the validity of the judgment. He denied the validity of the oath. He denied the validity of the courts. He blasphemed. He declared, in effect, that it made no difference what they said, their law, their oath meant nothing to him. This was an act of anarchy. He denied the entire structure of Israelite law and order. The entire principle of society. In other words, he declared, “I am in effect at war against you. Your law doesn’t mean a thing to me, I will get away with what I can.” He was immediately arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. What he had affirmed was total revolution, absolute secession from any society which denied him his wishes. And no society can long exist with permits such subversion.

Can you allow people to deny the oath? To walk out of a court and declare they have no intention of abiding by the law? Who declare that they are going to overturn any society that denies them their wishes. You have revolution. And you either execute the person or you are executed. And this is why we, as a society, are headed for execution; because we extend total tolerance to these people when they deny the principle of law and order. Did we not see this in Chicago? Over and over again, day after day they met. And there were persons, informers, attending the meetings; some of the documents were secure. And what did they say? We will work to provoke the police, to destroy law and order, if we are arrested, we will lie. We will say that the police clubbed us without any offense. We were marching peaceably. In other words, they said, we will deny the principle of law and order. They were guilty of blasphemy. They should die. They have affirmed total revolution, total secession, total anarchy. And what have we done? We have treated those who tried to enforce the law against them, as though they were the criminals. As though they are the persons to be investigated.

Christians must affirm and respect their oaths. Yes, even when the enemies of Christ could not care less about what they swore on any number of Bibles, or copies of Das Kapital for that matter.

Only after we kneel to God, will we – in time – again be the leading heads of our societies, leading it upward.

And not the filthy tail, as we are today.

For the record, Leviticus 24:10-16 (English Standard Version) is repeated below:

Now an Israelite woman’s son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel. And the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel fought in the camp, and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. Then they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. And they put him in custody, till the will of the Lord should be clear to them.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

The wicked cannot be allowed to pour public contempt on the the Lord of the Law, the foundation of society, prosperity, liberty, truth, even sanity.

Not without a price being paid.

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