As I was studying the Bible this morning, I came up with a thought that I would like to run by you to see what you think. If we can make vows to God, is it possible that people can make vows to Satan or other evil beings? Have you read anything about that? This is something that people get in trouble with. For example, “I vow never to talk to them again…” or “I vow never to let them do that to me again…” If we don’t explicitly make the vow to God, then where does the vow go? It can’t just rest with us. “Someone” or “something” hears this I think. Also, it is interesting that the example below with Jacob and another one with Gideon are ones where they need reassurance from God so they do this “God, if this…then that” type of bargaining. I have read that when people are in trouble they tend to make vows and bargain. This can be a tenuous moment in someone’s life as to whether they will side with good or evil, isn’t it? Genesis 28:20-22 “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth .”
I am not sure how to respond to this question. Vows are things that Christians should not be making in any case (Matthew 5:37, James 5:12), so it seems to be not particularly needed to have a doctrine on how to do something we should not be doing in the first place. It would be kind of like having a Christian regulation on what to do when you get drunk. Probably just don’t get drunk. To me, worrying about what happens to a vow when we make one sounds a bit like superstition. A vow is just a set of words. It has no reality beyond the words we speak unless we give those words power ourselves by letting the fact that we uttered them affect our actions. A vow doesn’t “go” anywhere. Making a vow to Satan seems to me to be pretty much the most foolish thing a person can do. However, Hollywood movies like “Damn Yankees” aside, the idea that such a vow has some sort of power in and of itself is silly. If we are so foolish as to make a vow to Satan, then we should break that vow immediately!
Of course, I recognize that we have people in the Old Testament making vows. This was a common practice in ancient times because lying and having our words mean nothing was so common that people felt they needed some mechanism to assure that words could be believed. Thanks in part to the influence of Christianity, this custom has largely disappeared from common human use. Maybe I am alone on this, and maybe this is must a pet peeve of mine, but to me the idea of swearing on a Bible or pledging allegiance to the flag is unnecessary for a Christian to do and is a remnant of an outdated way of thinking we would do well to put behind us. How about simply telling the truth and simply being loyal to your country. Words do nothing to increase honesty and loyalty. Please forgive my rant.