Caught Off Guard

by Laura Harris

As Executor of my father’s estate, I recently submitted forms to the administrative offices of our County Probate Court to remedy outstanding financial issues.  I anticipated leaving the documents with the receptionist and quickly be on my way.  Unexpectedly, the woman requested that I swear under oath to the truthfulness of the information I submitted.  I politely interrupted her recitation and asked if I could affirm instead of swear.  With a befuddled look she asked, “What does affirm mean?”   My stomach tightened, my face flushed and my mind raced: How do I explain an affirmation?  Could I adequately articulate my religious beliefs?  What if she declined my request?  What if..?

I nervously gave a response.  The woman shuffled through some papers on her desk in an attempt to find “official” information on affirmations.  After consulting a co-worker, she agreed to substitute the word “swear” with “affirm.” It had been years since I studied and reviewed the biblical reasons as to why true Christians do not swear.  Under pressure, I had difficulty recollecting my bible study on the topic.  Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying:  “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  As a Christian I must always be ready to defend my actions.  In order to uphold my beliefs, it requires constant study and reflection on the things I “already know.” 

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