Jesus said:

You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Matthew 5:33-37 – May 4, 2012)

The notes in my bible say that this is alternatively rendered as “. . . anything more than this comes from evil.” The King James Version follows that reasoning: “Let your communication be , Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” In any event, the plea of Jesus here is for clarity in communication, for plain, simple, easily understood communication. ~ The Letter of James picks up this same thought: “Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘Yes’ be yes and your ‘No’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” (James 5:12) Again, a plea for clear communication, an admonition to eschew obfuscation, a command from Holy Scripture to avoid prevarication. ~ In this political season (when, in modern society, isn’t it a political season?) we are bombarded by messages, speeches, advertisements, editorials, robo-calls, and news commentaries, none of which seem to have gotten this message! Today’s 24-hour news cycle and with the ease with which technology allows words and pictures to be manipulated seems to encourage folks to say and publish anything and everything but a “yes” which is truly “yes” or a “no” which is really “no”. ~ We’ve all heard the post-modern excuse for not believing anything: “That may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” I don’t buy it. Maybe I’m not post-modern enough, but I really do believe there is a capital-T Truth that is true for everyone. We may not all recognize it; we may all be so seeped in a culture in which “yes” is not always “yes” and “no” is not always “no”, but that does not mean that there is no capital-Y Yes in the universe! There is. I’m convinced that there is! ~ Alfred North Whitehead, on whose philosophy process theology is based, once remarked, “There are no whole truths; all truths are half- truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.” While I find process philosophy and process theology very instructive, I respectfully disagree with Mr. Whitehead: I believe there are whole truths, at least one – God. ~ If one believes that, as I do, one should do as Jesus instructed; stick with “yes” that is truly “yes” and “no” that is truly “no”, and make sure one’s communication is as clear and direct as possible.