ESV - 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God.
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As I understand the passage in question, Jesus was not condemning or forbidding the taking of formal oaths or vows in settings such as courts of law, marriage ceremonies, or other matters of true religious or legal significance. God Himself had authorized such oaths in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:12, for example, where God did not forbid swearing by His name, but only doing so falsely), and had even sworn by Himself on occasion (as He did with Abraham in Genesis 22:16). In addition, Jesus later permitted Himself to be put under oath at His trial (Matthew 26:63), and Paul in multiple passages called on God to witness to the truth of what he was saying or writing (Romans 1:9, for example). Instead, in my view, Jesus was condemning the taking of such oaths in common, everyday settings, or frivolously swearing by any object -- both of which were apparently widespread practices at the time -- since every oath (regardless of the language used) was still actually a promise to God that was not be regarded lightly, or as something that could be broken with impunity as long as the actual name of God was not used (as was then widely used as an excuse for non-compliance). For such trivial matters, a simple "yes" or "no" was all that was needed.
I don't think the question is should we or should we not make vows in a marriage ceremony. I think the question should be, 'Does making a vow to love, honor, obey, etc do anything to help us to do the things we swear to do?' The answer is NO! I think that's the doctrine Jesus was trying to TEACH. (I capitalized teach to add emphasis. Jesus was a teacher, not a drill instructor barking out the rules of the corps). "Make no vows" is to be understood as a policy instead of a hard rule. He says, "Let your yes be yes and your no be no" (Matt 5:37). I think He means that adding "I swear" won't help you to perform the oath. It actually puts more pressure on you than if you simply focused on your integrity to help you to do as you have said. When we make vows for our marriage ceremony, are we breaking a moral law given to us by Jesus? No. Jesus wasn't /isn't a law giver. Our traditions are mostly harmless. Most of them are our attempts to shine. (I believe our attempts to make ourselves appear to be more pious and righteous is the evil to which He compares it). I think God is used to that; I don't think He competes with us to get us to put Him first in our productions. I've read it here on this site so many times that Jesus "commanded" us to 'do this or to not do that.' The result of that kind of ill-advised teaching of the word is questions like this one of whether we're breaking a law or "in violation" when we promise to love our beloved intended, during a wedding ceremony. It makes Jesus out to be less of a teacher and more of a tyrant, an authoritarian. People often fear authoritarians because they demand complete obedience or there will be punishment. That characterization of God / Jesus has been around for FAR too long. He wants us to know that making vows does nothing to empower us in any way. Standing on truth and integrity DOES. That's good TEACHING to live by, not a rule to follow or suffer the cost of the violation...
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