Pastor Bo: A vow is a promise that should be kept

An unusual exchange recently took place at a local business, and it still has me a bit shaken as I consider it. An employee received her paycheck, and immediately realized something was drastically wrong. She had worked a full 40 hours at her very difficult job, a job for which she has been promised $20 per hour. But when she received her paycheck she realized that she had instead been paid $2 per hour.

Naturally, she was upset. She went to her boss to get the problem corrected, since she had children at home needing to be fed, a power bill that needed to be paid and a roof that needed to be kept overhead. When she spoke to him, though, things did not go at all as she expected.

"What can I do for you, Mary?" he asked pleasantly.

"My paycheck is all wrong," she replied. "I am supposed to be making $20 per hour, and you only paid me $2 per hour. I need to get this fixed before I leave today, please."

To say that she was stunned at his response would be an understatement.

"Oh, there is nothing to be fixed. Yes, I promised you $20 per hour, but I have changed my mind. The best I can do for you is $2 per hour."

Mary blew a gasket, loudly protesting, "You can't do that, it isn't right!"

Her boss didn't care. In fact, he made matters even worse with what he said next.

"Mary, I know what I promised, but God wants me to be happy, and I can't be happy giving you what I promised. You will have to settle for $2 an hour, or you can just leave"

You, my astute readers, have probably already figured out that the above account is a parable of my own making. And you who are exceptionally thoughtful have probably already figured out where I am headed with this.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 says, "When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?"

Every day in this land men and women join hands at a marriage altar, and make vows to one another before God. They give their word to love and to be faithful and to keep themselves to one another only, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. I am not aware of anyone coming to that altar to make "I mights." I have never heard a man say to a woman at that moment "I might love you, I might be faithful to you, I might keep only to you."

Nor have I ever heard a woman say that. Anyone saying that would most likely find themselves alone at that altar.

A vow. A promise. A word given. How dare such things be abandoned for an adulterous relationship. And how blasphemous to drag God into that filthiness by claiming that "He wants you to be happy," i.e. he wants you to cheat on the spouse to whom you made those vows before him!

Husbands, wives, a vow is a vow. You should keep those vows just as faithfully as you expect everyone else to keep their vows to you. Can you imagine finding out that Mary, from the parable I gave, was at that very moment breaking her vows to her husband? Would we not regard her as a hypocrite for expecting a boss to keep his vows of a salary while she was abandoning her vows of faithfulness?

Adultery destroys homes, wrecks the lives of innocent children, removes God's power from churches, and weakens an entire society. Sir, ma'am, keep your vows.

Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at He can be contacted by email at [email protected]