Swear Not At All: Considering Home and Vocational Duties

Swear Not At All: Considering Home and Vocational Duties
by Nate Richardson

On 5-5-17, I considered the scripture that says to swear not at all, but let your communication be yea, etc.: when we swear to do something, our name is damaged if we don’t comply. Things get in the way that become unethical to override, but a person feels inclined to act unethically to maintain his oath. For example, if a person swears to attend a certain university, he may feel inclined to cheat to get in, or to overly neglect his family and church duties to put in the needed time to get in to that university. Or if a person swears to get a PhD, he may neglect his family to do so, it not being an appropriate thing to do in his circumstance, etc. One doesn’t always know the circumstances that will be upon him, so he ought not swear to do things. We should not have such concrete plans that we forbid God from having a say on things, be it sooner or later, in the beginning end or middle, etc. This isn’t shunning education, but it’s explaining a principle. Indeed everyone should consider ways to get advanced degrees where feasible, and when God doesn’t call them to other things. Thankfully there are many online programs these days vastly increasing the reach of who can obtain such degrees etc.

On 5-13-17, a coworker said he is tired of the same test over and over, that he cannot pass it, so it returns again and again. He said he could handle trials and tribulations, but he is so tired of his current lot, a test repeating over 20 years. I told him I have similar trials, and that perhaps the deliverance of our new trials and tribulations is soon to come. I believe he was hoping for the tests coming before the New Jerusalem, and indeed, though hard, those will be a relief compared to living in the world of sin. We want to go to Zion. I do hope that he gets stronger in the church. He tries, and hears conferences and scriptures at times, but works the graveyard shift and claims he is too tired to attend church by the time he gets off of work. It seems that he does not regard the Sabbath but works freely that day. I should be modest for indeed some have to work on Sunday, and perhaps he is one of those cases, but it seems sad to me that more restraint is not exercised in these regards…. He is a good chap though rough around the edges sometimes. He and many other men here have a custom of working upwards of 60 hours a week at this job, often 80 hours, sometimes more than that, each week. It seems a competition among them of who can get the most hours in rather than planned work activity based on a needs-based-budget created between them and their wives. This obsession with overtime work eliminates their time and home, and several of them have reported to me the frequent complaints of their wives in this regard, that they are never home. I think it strange that they allow this sort of thing to go on, but I suppose they might need the money. It is a stretch for me to suppose such, but then again I’m going to school while doing this job so that I can get a better paying job. I’m trying to have regular time at home in the process, not going so fast that I don’t have time at home.

However we also consider the case of a woman who wrote President Nelson, formerly a medical surgeon, now in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: the woman wrote to him asking that he tell her husband to be at home more at not at school so much for medical school. Elder Nelson wrote back saying that being in school is a special time where they are trying to lay a foundation for a more regular family life, and that she needs to be patient with his hard hours at this time. But look at the key here: The Elder isn’t excusing the man in his neglect, rather he is saying that such is sometimes a temporary need. Indeed,, we should avoid making such a pattern in our lives, and do all we can to have the regular family time all through our lives.

Prophets have counseled against the taking of a second job to increases temporal comforts, as such eliminates the needed family time. Families are resilient, but not entirely self sufficient. We could have a long conversation about the benefits of family dinner on decreasing delinquency and teen pregnancy, etc etc.

I’ve often heard stress on the need to get good grades in school, and this is well said, but I also think the most important place to get good grades is in the home. Are we getting A’s in our relationship with our spouse? A’s in our relationships with our children? May God help us all in our situations to balance home and vocational duties. It is a core aspect of the duty of father that he spend much time out of the home (see talk on Fathers by Elder Christofferson), but here we are trying to avoid extremes, and bring back a culture of family centered society, rather than economy based society. Economy is needed for the survival of the family, and is of God, but family should ever be the master, and economy the servant, not the other way around.

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