Question:

Hi,

I have been going through a time of struggles dealing with so many vows: some intentional and others intrusive or unintentional. I am sure this is greatly related to OCD, but sometimes it doesn't feel that way. For example, one time I was praying and an intrusive thought came in my head, "I'm not giving this (random hobby that I enjoy) up for You." This caused panic in my mind, so I quickly countered saying in my mind, "Yes, I do (give the random hobby up for God)." This caused even more panic and I kept repetitively telling God that I didn't mean it, and that I don't want to give the hobby up.

I know in Ecclesiastes 5 it says to not call your vow a mistake before the messenger, but am I bound by this vow still?

Also, I have many other vows and I can't get my mind over them because they keep replaying in my mind: vows that I never wanted to make. The vows always relate to me giving something up that I don't want to give up. Also, I have vowed to do somethings that I like in order to prevent myself from vowing it away. For example, I vowed that I would continuing doing the hobby to force myself to do it, but I just don't know what I should do. I've prayed about it, but I still have constant guilt no matter what I do.

Thank you.


Answer:

First off, intrusive thoughts don't count as vows. Vows are much more formal than a brief thought passing through someone's head. In particular, there are the ideas that it is spoken to someone and that it is bound by something. Your examples are not vows, but merely thoughts about making a vow that you rightly decided were not reasonable thoughts.

Jesus commands Christians not to make vows unless required by someone else. "But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil" (Matthew 5:34-37).

Under the Old Law there was a provision for rash vows, but even here, it was actual vow and not a passing thought. There can be times a person didn't realize he committed to something, or perhaps forgot that he made a commitment. Under the Old Law, this was considered an unintentional sin. "Or if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it -- when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters" (Leviticus 5:4). When he realizes he had broken his word, he was to confess his sin and offer a sacrifice to God. There are no sacrifices under the New Law, but just as with any other sin, you confess you faults before God. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).

Basically, understand that you are facing a compulsion to condemn yourself and there is no reason for this.

Ok, thank you!