Matthew 5:33-37 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 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.
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
“Do you promise to love, comfort, honor and keep her for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful only to her so long as you both shall live?”
The Family Leader, which did yeoman’s work to lead the fight to remove three Iowa Supreme Court Justices at the ballot box, hatched an ill-conceived idea to have Presidential candidates and others sign a pledge/vow/oath/promise 50 times longer than the oath of office and marriage vows combined. In a conversation I had with CEO and President, Bob Vander Plaats, he said that the organization wanted to make clear that marriage and family were priorities for candidates who may have signed other pledges, such as to uphold the 2nd Amendment, oppose abortion or reduce spending.
I believe the vow likely violates the 3rd Commandment of taking the Lord’s name in vain. It is vague, complicated and open-ended; unnecessarily binds the conscience, and does nothing but make vow-breakers out of men. Finally, it speaks unclearly about the murder of unborn children (see at the bottom).
Before I deal with the specifics of this vow, let me state that I am not one that believes the above Scripture passage forbids all vows. The New Testament is full of vows that even Jesus and the disciples made. But they are to be formal vows before official bodies, not made to other unaccountable groups, such as the Family Leader or the Susan B Anthony group. Candidates should let their “yes” be “yes” and their “no” be “no”. It is ridiculous to think that forcing people to sign a pledge will make them better people, or give them strength to keep their promises.
I don’t have a problem with organizations sending out surveys and publishing the results. But having candidates make vows to God is coercive and makes a mockery of making vows.
In the past, promises to not raise taxes are violated before anyone even breaks a sweat at the inaugural ball. Why do we believe politicians will keep these vows with any more faithfulness?
Let us examine parts of the Family Leader pledge in light of Scripture and common sense.
First, the candidate pledges to keep his vows to his or her spouse. But I thought they did that at their wedding. Do we really think that if they don’t keep those made in a ceremony before God and in the presence of all those witnesses, they are going to keep a vow made to the Family Leader?
Second, a pledge is made to uphold the Constitution, which the candidates must do before they begin to serve, anyway.
Third, the vow requires signers to “recognize” certain statistics:
Recognition of the overwhelming statistical evidence that married people enjoy better health, better sex, longer lives, greater financial stability, and that children raised by a mother and a father together experience better learning, less addiction, less legal trouble, and less extramarital pregnancy.
How would a candidate recognize that married people enjoy better health if his own spouse is dying of cancer? God promises none of these things.
Fourth, the pledge raises more questions than it answers. Take this section:
Support for the enactment of safeguards for all married and unmarried U.S. Military and National Guard personnel, especially our combat troops, from inappropriate same-gender or opposite-gender sexual harassment, adultery or intrusively intimate commingling among attracteds (restrooms, showers, barracks, tents, etc.) plus prompt termination of military policymakers who would expose American wives and daughters to rape or sexual harassment, torture, enslavement or sexual leveraging by the enemy in forward combat roles.
Does anybody know what “attracteds” means in this sentence? It is not even a word! This sentence could have been written by a Washington bureaucrat. Why not simply ask the candidate if they will oppose women in combat, or want Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to be reinstated?
In the footnotes, which are also considered part of the pledge, the following is required:
As applicable if married now, wed in the future, or whenever interacting with another’s spouse, a person of the opposite sex or of personal attraction.
What is a person who is “of personal attraction.” Why is this phrase in here if the Family Leader won’t accept practicing homosexuals as signers to the pledge, as Mr. Vander Plaats told me?
Amazingly, this making of vow-breakers does not end with candidates. FAMiLY LEADER wants the rest of us to take a vow that we won’t vote for or help anybody who won’t take the pledge. It includes any federal, state, and municipal office. How long does the vow remain in effect? One Year, Two Years, a Lifetime? What if the Family Leader folds, who will keep track of whether a particular candidate has signed the pledge.
I recently wrote an article lambasting the evil of taking a pledge to kill one’s offspring. I am afraid this document isn’t really pro-life either. Look at this footnote:
as a matter of human rights, we reject any form of intrauterine or extrauterine child killing which is partialbirth; live-birth; post-viability; third trimester; involving fetal pain; taxpayer-subsidized; based on gender or disability or racial discrimination against the baby; without fully-informed consent; without disclosure of pregnancy care and adoption placement options; without disclosure of abortion’s eugenic and racist history; involving a minor without parental knowledge or consent; in disregard of conscience objections of health care professionals and institutions; involving cloning or experimentation on non-consenting human subjects; involving dangerous abortifacient drugs; or for alleged necessities other than to save the life of the mother.
This paragraph typifies why the Christian Right fails to make much headway when it comes to stopping the murder of unborn children. It is as clear as mud. Let’s parse it out.
as a matter of human rights, we reject any form of intrauterine or extrauterine child killing which is partialbirth; live-birth; post-viability; third trimester; (So young babies who can’t live outside the womb aren’t as important?)
involving fetal pain; (so if the killer can figure out a way to do it painlessly, or if they discover babies can’t feel pain, it’s okay to kill those babies?)
taxpayer-subsidized; (As long as I don’t have to pay for it, it’s all right?)
based on gender or disability or racial discrimination against the baby; (Healthy white baby boys or girls can be killed, as long as they are only being killed because the parents hate babies?)
without fully-informed consent; (It’s okay to kill as long as you know what you are doing?)
without disclosure of pregnancy care and adoption placement options; (So “selfish” mothers who just want to kill them can have at it?)
without disclosure of abortion’s eugenic and racist history; (So racists and eugenicists can proceed if they are unmoved?)
involving a minor without parental knowledge or consent; (So as long as mom and dad know and say it’s okay, it’s okay to kill their grandchildren!)
in disregard of conscience objections of health care professionals and institutions; (It’s okay to kill them as long as I don’t have to help?)
involving cloning or experimentation on non-consenting human subjects; (So the creation of babies without consideration of whether or not they are ever born is okay, as long as we don’t kill them on purpose?)
involving dangerous abortifacient drugs; (This one might be the only one that makes sense if it is informing the Christian of the dangers of The Pill and other birth control pills to living babies, but I am afraid it probably means dangerous to the mother).
We could test this premise easily enough. Ask any of the presidential candidates who signed the bill if they would be willing to outlaw the IUD, The Pill or any other birth control that kills babies after conception. (Don’t everybody raise your hand at once!)
or for alleged necessities other than to save the life of the mother. (This is a red herring, for reasons not explained here; suffice it to say that virtually no such cases exist).
Mr. VanderPlaats admits that this pledge does not require that a candidate be 100% pro-life, and it will be accepted by FAMiLYLEADER, anyway. I also understand that the FAMiLYLEADER would vet those candidates out by other means. My problem is this. Apparently, the organization believes that not reducing the deficit is of greater consequence than having candidates who are not 100% pro-life in order to “honor and to cherish, to defend and to uphold, the Institution of Marriage.” I reject the premise.
Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann have signed the pledge. Jon Huntsman has refused to sign all pledges (good for him!)
Mr. Vander Plaats is welcome to respond and I will publish it here on Caffeinated Thoughts.
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.
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