Our testimony against the use of oaths is founded upon the following positive command of Jesus:
“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 communications be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Matthew 5:34-37.
Many Friends suffered for keeping this commandment. While we should continue to be prepared to suffer for faithfulness, most civil authorities routinely allow a non-ceremonial affirmation or written statement of one’s intention to be truthful even though one declines to swear. These provide legal alternatives to swearing and still subject one to civil punishment for intentional untruthfulness (that is, “perjury”). These legal alternatives should not be used as a way of avoiding suffering for faithfulness to Christ’s command, but as an opening to be an even greater
witness for Christ. Friends should understand and be prepared to share the scriptural basis of this testimony. But, most importantly, Friends need never be anxious when brought before the civil authorities, but rather mindful of Christ’s promise for such situations that,
“the Holy Ghost will teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” Luke 12:12.