Are oaths always binding?

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
I certainly hope they are not all binding regardless. Do I have to go back to the RCC? :(
Not if you covenanted to commit sin, as in taking part in a mass--oaths to sin are unlawful before God. As far the ex-Mason's oath, his oaths to masonism may be unlawful and therefore non-binding, but I fail to see the gain of an exposee. It seems like gratuitous provocation, and may give the masons an excuse to rail against him as a talebearer and covenant-breaker (although we regard the oath as unlawful, they do not).
 

ThomasT

Puritan Board Freshman
I certainly hope they are not all binding regardless. Do I have to go back to the RCC? :(
Zack,

My title for this thread was poorly chosen. It asks a broad question that’s far too easy to answer. I should have asked, “Under normal circumstances, do we have to keep all oaths of confidentiality?” It’s these kinds of oaths I’m concerned with.

Naturally we have to specify what we mean by “normal circumstances.” Here’s my take on that. An oath is a normal one if

a) we made the oath freely and in a right state of mind, with a full understanding of what we were being asked to conceal;

b) after having made the oath, we don’t find ourselves facing extreme compulsion (we’re forced by the state to testify in court, or a criminal has a gun to our head);

c) a failure to break our oath would allow a serious injustice to be take place (such as if we knew someone was seriously intent on murder), or if not breaking our oath would facilitate a terrible calamity (someone in a position to know tells us that a dam is about to burst, potentially killing thousands).

Yet the prevailing view on this thread seems to be that an oath of confidentiality is unlawful simply if what’s revealed to us contains any element of sin. Which means, in practical terms, that either an oath or a simple promise (a promise is an informal oath) to keep our mouths shut can be lawfully disregarded if we can uncover some kind of sin in what we’re told.

If someone tells me that he’s struggling with a private vice, like p0rnography, and I’ve agreed in advance of receiving this information not to repeat what he tells me, am I free to pick up the phone and call his wife as soon as he spills the beans? Where do we draw the line? Sin is the default condition of humanity. When people confess things to us, what we hear isn’t usually a story about how the guy we're talking to has been secretly volunteering at a homeless shelter.
 

ThomasT

Puritan Board Freshman
c) a failure to break our oath WOULD allow a serious injustice to be take place (such as if we knew someone was seriously intent on murder), or if not breaking our oath would facilitate a terrible calamity (someone in a position to know tells us that a dam is about to burst, potentially killing thousands).
Typo alert. In the above passage, change "would" to wouldn't."
 
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