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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Slog Bible Study: Matthew 5:34-37

Posted by on Sun, Nov 11, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Matthew 5:34-37
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.


Fucking discuss.

 

Comments (52) RSS

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52
@42: I don't buy it. You're basically saying that since some people who claim to be spiritual are dicks everyone who claims to be spiritual must be criticized because of their not-so-much shared beliefs.

Look, I believe that everything and everyone should have to put up with being question and/or criticized, because that's the only way to find truth, any truth, be it personal, universal, scientific, spiritual, emotional or any other kind.

I also believe that your argument to criticize someone because a completely different someone is being a dick is stupid.

(for the record I am not atheist, not affiliated with any particular religion)
Posted by Friendstastegood on November 14, 2012 at 9:16 AM · Report this
51
I swear to God I will never do this again.

Doh!!!
Posted by subwlf on November 12, 2012 at 10:25 AM · Report this
50
I've known (and known of) ministers and other very religious Christians who will "affirm" oaths rather than swear by God and/or the Bible, exactly because of this verse.

I affirm, mainly because I agree with Rex Stout's character Nero Wolfe: "If my personal word is no good, my sworn oath will be no better."

Posted by DonServo on November 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM · Report this
49
Oaths in our legal system are only peculiar if you buy the notion that it's based on Christianity.

Common law comes originally from Germanic traditions, the same ones that used ordeals to try guilt. Legal disputes were often settled not through evidence and fact finding, but by asking participants to take an oath swearing that their story was true. They'd produce a prescribed number of "oath-helpers", who weren't witnesses to events in dispute, but rather asserted the trustworthiness of the person taking the oath.

That's not to say that Christianity didn't influence further developments, but fundamentally, the Common Law has pagan roots.
Posted by Corydon on November 11, 2012 at 6:16 PM · Report this
48
@46 Well, if you needed a Biblical verse to explain it to people, and I'm pretty sure you did back then, that would certainly be the best example.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on November 11, 2012 at 5:01 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 47
Well said, @29. I had no idea what a real oath was until I stood up in front everyone I cared about and said my wedding vows to my wife. I'm still kind of blown away by how profound and powerful that really was (seven years later.)

Everything to which I had supposedly pledged, sworn to, or promised before (the flag, the Scout oath, jury duty, and pretty much everything I'd ever mumbled in church) suddenly seemed really, really insignificant.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on November 11, 2012 at 4:08 PM · Report this
46
@45: I thought I had seen an {English Civil War}-era Quaker's invocation of the '"yea" or 'nay'"' verse as a justification against his swearing---perhaps faulty memory on my part, or an idiosyncratic interpretation on his.
Posted by Gerald Fnord on November 11, 2012 at 3:58 PM · Report this
45
@44 Just to clarify a bit, it comes down to Quakers believing there is but one standard of truth. If you need to "swear" you're telling the truth, that implies that the rest of the time you're not. So, if you devoutly believe that one must always speak truth, the idea of swearing that you're doing it is either superfluous, offensive, or both.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on November 11, 2012 at 3:55 PM · Report this
44
The Quakers' taking this verse to heart (and having the ear of the Constitutional Convention) is why in the Constitution one need not swear an oath of office, but may rather 'affirm' it.
Posted by Gerald Fnord on November 11, 2012 at 3:23 PM · Report this
43
I can make my hair blonde or plumb, does that count?
Posted by isalang on November 11, 2012 at 3:22 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 42
41, Those bigots you mention claim that their bigotry is rooted in their religion, that their spiritual beliefs are the very reason why they are bigoted. They do this because we give a free pass to religious and spiritual belief in this country, exempting behavior we would otherwise be appalled by. Under what context is the idea of carving a young girl's genitals considered acceptable? Religion. In what respect is interfering in the right of two consenting adults to marry said to be justified? Spirituality. Under what circumstances may rape be called God's will? I think by now you get my point.

And it is this very justification, this attempt to impose your private beliefs upon the rest of us who do not share them, that makes you and your fellow believers subject to critique. Those who cannot tolerate dissent should not expect to be treated with kid gloves. Your religion, your spirituality, your belief system, all of these are just as worthy of examination as any other aspect of life. Particularly if you are to use them as justification for influencing the laws that govern all of us, including those of us who disagree with your interpretation of the world.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on November 11, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 41
@37: Spirituality has nothing to do with judging others, even though there are bigots who claim they are spiritual.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on November 11, 2012 at 1:17 PM · Report this
venomlash 40
@33: I'm a Jew. We only really do weird rituals on Sukkot. (Lulav and etrog, anyone?)
Posted by venomlash on November 11, 2012 at 1:12 PM · Report this
39
10 bucks or so at any drugstore and I can make the hair on my head any color I damn well choose.
Posted by Lymis on November 11, 2012 at 1:09 PM · Report this
briantrice 38
Re: profanity. There's plenty of original-text profanity in the Bible. It simply was relentlessly translated out or misunderstood when rendered into the English language (to say nothing of the words that had to be borrowed wholesale for English to express the more "lofty" sentiments).
Posted by briantrice http://www.briantrice.com on November 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 37
36, Spirituality is not exempt from criticism.

Spiritual people have lately been at the forefront of not only criticizing the fulfillment of others, but also have attempted to restrict that fulfillment through the force of law. In so doing, they have opened themselves up for critique, under the principle that what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

In fact, given that the major assault on individual fulfillment by the religious has been leveled at people whose fulfillment is programmed into their DNA, such as GLBT people, and since religion is a choice rather than an inherent characteristic, spiritual fulfillment is even more worthy or criticism than the people they have so viciously attacked.

Once having judged, one is subject to judgement. Arguments to the contrary will fall on the deaf ears of those you have harmed in the past. Be grateful that we whom you have attacked previously have not resorted to the same abuse of our legal system as you have, and have not attempted to render you illegal as you have attempted to render us.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on November 11, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 36
@33: It's not weird, it's spiritual. And if other people derive fulfillment from it, why do you care?
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on November 11, 2012 at 12:40 PM · Report this
35
Why do you assume I'm not atheist? Plenty of weird ass shit to go around.
Posted by rainbird on November 11, 2012 at 11:02 AM · Report this
monkey 34
Fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck fuck. YAY, I'M 10!
Posted by monkey on November 11, 2012 at 11:00 AM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 33
32, Weird-ass shit? You mean the bit about Lot offering his daughters up to be gang raped and then running off with them to fuck in a cave after his wife got salty isn't fucking weird?

Yes, Mormons are strange motherfuckers. But I don't want to hear christians who sit in pews and symbolically eat a dead guy's flesh and drink his blood (ritual cannibalism?) talk to me about other people's weirdness. I'll listen to that from an atheist, but not from somebody who hangs a gigantic representation of an Ancient Roman version of the electric chair on a wall only to tell me he follows a religion of life.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on November 11, 2012 at 10:44 AM · Report this
32
While I won't miss WMR one fucking bit, I'm going to miss Slog Mormon Study. There's some weird-ass shit in those books.
Posted by rainbird on November 11, 2012 at 10:24 AM · Report this
Goldy 31
@2 The Bible means whatever you think it means (or want it to mean). That's pretty much the point of these posts.
Posted by Goldy on November 11, 2012 at 10:19 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 30
GO BRONCOS!
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty http://www.nra.org on November 11, 2012 at 10:07 AM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 29
Oaths in general should never be compulsory. An oath means nothing unless made of one's own free will. Common oaths we require of other people (the Pledge of Allegiance, the Oath of Office) are completely devoid of meaning. They are made not as spontaneous declarations of loyalty, rather as rituals. They cannot be what they are intended to be, which is a declaration of loyalty and/or love. This is why national anthems and flags are also empty symbols. You cannot force another person to declare their love for something and think that that expression is somehow genuine. Real love is never forced.

An injunction against oath taking has its merits, in that societies create these paradoxes.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on November 11, 2012 at 10:06 AM · Report this
zombie eyes 28
Bollocks!
Posted by zombie eyes on November 11, 2012 at 9:57 AM · Report this
27
I think it means: Don't be so entrenched in your own beliefs that you swear to them by God, the Earth, or yourself, or anything. Take each thing requiring judgement at face value and make a decision- not based on an ideology, but based on the facts at hand. And if that is what it means- true that.
Posted by laurenke on November 11, 2012 at 9:54 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 26
neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool
Yeah, god has rather treated the Earth like a footstool.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on November 11, 2012 at 9:46 AM · Report this
25
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" - KJV

Old Testament passages also refer to God’s name being profaned by hypocritical behavior of people and false representation of God’s words or character.

A more thoughtful interpretation suggests that taking his name in vain refers to misrepresenting God, not use of mere words in a sentence.

Know any group or political party that does this ad nauseam?
Posted by Ben Thinkin on November 11, 2012 at 9:38 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 24
@19: Of course, none of us are saints.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on November 11, 2012 at 9:35 AM · Report this
ObeyTheFist 23
I just had a huge moment of relief not seeing the disclaimer about why we're reading the fucking Book of Mormon.
Posted by ObeyTheFist on November 11, 2012 at 9:20 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 22
Well, ok. No oaths. But I googled "bible profanity" and in 0.14 seconds I came up with these, plus like 50 more:

Colossians 3:8: But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

Ephesians 4:29: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Matthew 15:10-11: And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

James 3:10: From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

Ephesians 5:4: Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

So no profanity, no oaths. Yes, they're two different things. No, neither is good and holy. He's making a list,
Checking it twice; Gonna find out who's naughty or nice. He knows if you've been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on November 11, 2012 at 9:17 AM · Report this
21
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" - KJV

Old Testament passages also refer to God’s name being profaned by hypocritical behavior of people and false representation of God’s words or character.

A more thoughtful interpretation suggests that taking his name in vain refers to misrepresenting God, not use of mere words in a sentence.

Know any group or political party that does this ad nauseam?
Posted by Ben Thinkin on November 11, 2012 at 9:12 AM · Report this
20
Oh come on guys, #2 is the only one that got it right. This isn't talking about cussing, this is about swearing oaths. only god has the power to influence reality (the bit about hair), lowly humans do not. To swear an oath is presuming to have the power god has, which he REALLY hates (he is a jealous and vengeful god after all).

You don't even need extra "context" to get this, the final sentance gives it: just say what you mean and do what you say, no oath needed.

The ESV version says it better: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea…

I'm assuming this post was a stab at pointing out christian hypocrisy? If so, literally any portion of Matthew 6 is better: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea…

Here you got: donate to the poor in secret (someone tell politicians!), quietly pray in private (sorry tebow!), don't hoard money/gold (sorry 1%!). It's surprising how many christians don't know these rules.

Posted by Pat Sajak on November 11, 2012 at 9:06 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 19
@ 8, your notion is what's childish. People have an innate NEED to swear. That's why "acceptable" substitutions like "gosh" and "dang" exist.

Grow up, please.
Posted by Matt from Denver on November 11, 2012 at 8:56 AM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 18
Shouldn't we be doing Quran study, in honor of the reelection of our muslin president?
Posted by Reverse Polarity on November 11, 2012 at 8:54 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 17
Oh dear.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on November 11, 2012 at 8:54 AM · Report this
16
C'mon Phoebs, if you were so fucking good at this english shit you would NO that this sacred text aint referring to profanity. And in closing, Yea, yea; Nay, nay!
Posted by Nate Dogg on November 11, 2012 at 8:47 AM · Report this
15
I swear to God, the verse is about what Rob @2 said. It has fuck all to do with taboo words.

Basically, it's about not arrogantly imagining you can get God involved in your business, political, or legal affairs. God decides when to enforce trutthfulness etc, not man. The preacher who says "the hurricane was God's vengeance" is violating the spririt of this verse much worse than guy who says, "Wow. That was a fuck-ton of rain that fell last night."
Posted by Eric from Boulder on November 11, 2012 at 8:46 AM · Report this
14
Swearing is fun and colorful and most often is NOT used to insult anyone. It is more often used as an exclamatory. It can be repetitive if done poorly. But when done well can rise to the level of prose.
Posted by dbgill56 on November 11, 2012 at 8:44 AM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 13
@ 8 phoebe.. child.. keep up. fucking hell. surely YOU know this bit of scripture isn't about naughty words. fuck. i can't wait until we get to the part about the money changers in the temple and jesus with his cat o' nine tails breaking shit. god only knows what you think that's about
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on November 11, 2012 at 8:40 AM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 12
Being honest is so hard.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on November 11, 2012 at 8:38 AM · Report this
Doctor Memory 11
Dear Elvis who slumbers below, what kind of fucking idiot reads Matthew 5:34-37 and thinks that it's about bad words?
Posted by Doctor Memory http://blahg.blank.org on November 11, 2012 at 8:38 AM · Report this
10
So now that we have bleach and hair dye technology, we *can* swear on our heads, right?
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on November 11, 2012 at 8:36 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 9
But ya...this isn't about saying fuck or shit. I think the important part is the "let your yes be yes and your no be no."

Kinda like another great and wise one said, "Do or do not, there is no try." :D
Posted by ArtBasketSara on November 11, 2012 at 8:33 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 8
Swearing is offensive. People who swear have lazy minds. If you really want to insult someone, the English language more than meets your needs without resulting to vulgarity.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on November 11, 2012 at 8:18 AM · Report this
NotSean 7
Our legal rituals of swearing oaths upon the Bible, or swearing to tell the truth, seem all the more peculiar now.
Posted by NotSean on November 11, 2012 at 8:03 AM · Report this
6
Mitt Romney never uses profanity. He even says "gosh" instead of "god" because he doesn't want to use the Lord's name in vain.

Obama, on the other hand...
Posted by floater on November 11, 2012 at 7:56 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 5
You know, I never knew that there was an actual biblical instruction against swearing. (God damn being the exception - that one comes from the 10 Commandments.) I'm pretty certain that all the Gospel readings I heard growing up Catholic stuck to the well known stories, like Jesus feeding the multitude or the Sermon on the Mount. I thought the taboo on swearing was just some Protestant bullshit.
Posted by Matt from Denver on November 11, 2012 at 7:52 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 4
OMFG! I'm glad I don't have to hear anymore Mormon bullshit!
Posted by Pope Peabrain on November 11, 2012 at 7:48 AM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 3
I pledge allegiance to the fags of the United States and Canada.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on November 11, 2012 at 7:24 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 2
It not really about the 7 words you can't say on TV. It's about oaths or pledges, and that you shouldn't make them, especially ones that involve God.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on November 11, 2012 at 7:16 AM · Report this
1
I *fucking* love you, Goldy!
Posted by Tigerbuck on November 11, 2012 at 7:12 AM · Report this

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