How binding are promises to do things that are or later become inconsistent with our moral progress?
I got to thinking about that in a recent thread. Take, for instance, a Mormon-fringe polygamist who wants to join the church. Is ceasing to have sexual relations with his plural wives really consistent with his vows to them? Converts will sometimes have made promises in their prior religion that are inconsistent with leaving it. And we can think of fanciful examples if we wish. Imagine an affecting battlefield scene where a soldier promises his dying comrade that he’ll have a shot of whiskey in his memory each Christmas. Can this man later join the Church?
The Gadiantons and their ilk acted like they were doing something when they made their oaths. And one way of understanding Christ’s sermon against oaths is that he didn’t want us to have the hard choice of sinning if we kept a promise or sinning by breaking it.
We don’t treat these kinds of promises as binding, though, and we never have. Why? Are such promises void by nature from the beginning? Does God release us from the promise? Does Christ take the sin of breaking the promise on himself as part of his atonement?