So help me, God

The Judeo-Christian roots of our nation are showing up these days in places many of us have never even noticed, but simply assumed as normal.

For instance, the phrase “So help me, God” as part of the oath administered to a witness before testifying in some courts or before Congress. No one really knows where the phrase first originated. That it was common in England before the colonists is certain. Also, that it is adapted from a similar phrase in Scripture (Ruth 1:17; 1 Samuel 3:17) is apparent.

But last week, a key committee in the US House of Representatives began working to eliminate the reference to God from the oath normally administered to witnesses.

The current version of the oath reads as follows:

“Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony that you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

The proposed revision would omit the appeal to God and substitute it with a reminder of the might of the government (“under penalty of law”):

“Do you solemnly swear or affirm, under penalty of law, that the testimony that you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”

We’ve come a long way from when George Washington voluntarily added “So help me, God!” to his oath of office as he became president.

It reminds me of several years back when one of our political parties held a vote at their national convention to determine if God’s name should even be included in the party platform. So large a contingent of the group yelled protests that the vote had to be taken three times.

Removing God from our national vocabulary does not eliminate His power to judge.

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.—Psalm 2:1–3

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,…And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind…”—Romans 1:21–22, 28

As Christians, may these moments serve as reminders to us that we are in the midst of a nation that needs God. And in these days, when our country seems to be doing all in its power to wipe a consciousness of Him and our accountability to Him from our national memory, may we—like Paul who found himself in an even more godless culture—stand firm in our gospel convictions and be bold in our gospel witness.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.—Romans 1:16

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