Friends define testimony as “an outward expression of an inward leading of the Spirit, or an outward sign of what Friends believe to be an inward revelation of truth.” (Cooper, pg. 101) The call for integrity in daily life lies at the heart of Quakerism. It reflects Friends devotion to truth, honesty, authenticity, and wholeness.
At its simplest, the testimony of integrity means that we believe that it is wrong to lie, and we try to tell the truth in all things and at all times. It is commonly associated with honesty and fairness. Perhaps you have heard “It’s what you do when no one is looking.”
It is the belief that we should live our lives true to God, true to ourselves, and true to other people. While these are all PART of it; for Friends, it deals more with personal wholeness and inner Truth, Truth being Jesus, and from Truth we get the outward signs of integrity: like honesty and fairness.
The “testimony of telling the truth” that Quakers “endured heavy fines or imprisonment” (Williams, pg. 79) fighting for our religious freedom to obey Christ in the command not to swear stems from Matthew 5:34-37 and James 5:12.
Matthew 5:34-37 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; or by the earth, because it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Neither should you swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.
James 5:12 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)Now above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your “yes” must be “yes,” and your “no” must be “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment.
With this in mind, Friends believe that speaking truthfully is something done when the Spirit lives within you. Being told that they need to “swear’ that they are telling the truth implies that unless they “swear,” they might not be telling the truth and this was not only disrespectful to them personally, more importantly, it doubted God’s presence in their life.
....to be continued.