|James 5:12 |
12 But above all things, my brothers, do not swear,3 neither by heaven or by the earth, nor by any other oath; but let your "Yes" be yes; and your "No," no, to avoid being condemned.
3 Above all things, do not swear. Swearing is not profanity. Swearing is to take an oath, or to swear "to tell the truth." Swearing is forbidden by James and by Jesus in Mat 5:34-37: But I say to you, Do not swear at all; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your 'yes' be 'yes,' and your 'no,' 'no;' for whatever is more than these comes from the evil one, [the spirit of Satan within you].
The reason Jesus further tells us not to swear by heaven, by earth, (or by the Bible), by God, or even the hairs on your head is because you don't control any of them, so to pretend to be able invoke them is a complete exaggeration, even a lie.
This command by Jesus and James was considered so important, that thousands of early Quakers went to prison rather than swear to tell the truth. The sheriffs knew that an early Quaker would refuse to swear, so they would arrest them and take them to court, where they were sentenced to prison for failure to take an oath — refusing the court's order to swear.
So remember, do not swear at all, even in court. You can simply say you "affirm" that you will answer truthfully, and that you understand you are subject to charges of perjury for any untruthful statement made.
A right to give an affirmation has existed in English law since the Quakers Act 1695 (An Act that the Solemne Affirmation & Declaration of the People called Quakers shall be accepted instead of an Oath in the usual Forme; 7 & 8 Will. 3 c. 34) was passed. The original 1787 text of the Constitution of the United States makes three references to an "oath or affirmation": In Article I, senators must take a special oath or affirmation to convene as a tribunal for impeachment; in Article II, the president is required to take a specified oath or affirmation before entering office; and in Article VI, all state and federal officials must take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution. Another reference appears in the Fourth Amendment, which specifies that all warrants must be supported by evidence given under oath or affirmation.