Thursday, June 18, 2009

swearing to tell the truth

What is the purpose of swearing to tell the truth on the Bible when the person who is being asked to do the swearing doesn’t believe in it?

Last night we met with our priest to discuss wedding related information. Before he began, he asked us both to place our hands on the Bible and swear to tell the truth. Since he knows that I’m not particularly devout and that I don’t go to church, it struck me as odd that he’d ask this. I mean, he knows that I’m baptised but that I have issues with the church, so why even bother asking? I suppose it’s just routine for him but the larger implication of the act struck me as being somewhat redundant.

I mean really, even if I believed, putting my hand on the Bible and pledging to tell the truth doesn’t ensure that I will.
The questions that followed this pledge to tell the truth also struck me as problematic. We were only allowed to answer yes or no. I’m sorry but nothing in life is that black and white. Nothing, not really! (For example, is it wrong to steal when you’re starving and the society you live in fails to support you? You could argue for both sides and be justified in both answers.)

So when you ask an Agnostic if she’s willing to allow her Catholic husband to raise their potential children Catholic the answer is never going to be yes or no. The entire negotiation of 2 belief systems puts us in a grey zone that we’ve agreed to and goes beyond a yes/no answer. Yes, the child can be baptized and yes the child will have some participation in the church, but no, I will not raise my child to be a strict, devout, unquestioning Catholic. To be forced into a yes/no answer is not only unfair, but inaccurate. But of course, in order to go through with the entire process, I have to say yes. So am I lying? Probably. Is he lying? Probably. Does the priest know this? Probably. So what does that say in terms of the honest covenant that we are all entering into together?

Of course, I know we’re not the first, nor the last to engage in such activities but the entire ritual process just strikes me as so redundant and bent on accepting a lie in order to live with the illusion of truth. In this day and age I would gather that many couple are lying, at least a little bit, when they answer these questions. Why, oh why, does the Catholic/Christian church prefer to live a lie than to be open to negotiation and live the truth? It boggles my mind….

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