Our God is truth but are we in danger of becoming a people who subvert the truth to our agendas?
In our theological and political passions, the truth can often be left in the dust. We have a lot of euphemisms for what replaces the truth, but as Christians we only have two options. Jesus said our yes should be yes and our no should be no. He made it clear that the enemy is the liar and that God’s people must “speak the truth in love.” But we give cover to our lies. Inflated rhetoric. Impassioned, heat-of-the-moment verbiage. Enflamed with righteous anger. Senator Hiram Johnson said, “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” It is also a casualty of political battles and even blogging wars. We cannot let that happen in the church of Jesus Christ. No political end is worth it.
We have gradually grown accustomed to this. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were accomplished liars, yet people voted for them anyway. “That’s just politics.” When we come to the place where we accept lying as normal in the public arena we have crossed a dangerous line. Advertisers lie. Business people lie. Our legal system accepts the fact that people do not always tell the truth. We swim in a sea of lies and there is a danger that we will begin to accept the world’s ways as our own. We cannot. We must not.
During the last election cycle, Harry Reid told a bald-faced lie about Mitt Romney, from the floor of the Senate, that Romney had paid no taxes in 10 years. Whether that charge had any effect on the election is unclear, but in a CNN interview afterward, when confronted about the lie, Reid was unapologetic. “Romney didn’t win, did he?”
In Washington these days, the ends justify the means. If it helps you, it’s good.
But we are the church of the living God tasked with building a heavenly kingdom rooted in the message of Christ’s good news and the eternal word of God, not on earthly principles. It would seem that a good place for us to start is to simply tell the truth. The whole truth. Nothing but the truth.
And one of the best places to begin our healing as a church from this battering, bruising campaign is simply to tell the truth – to one another and about one another. We must leave behind all forms of lying and deceit. In our zeal, we have sometimes fallen prey to the temptation to overstate, to exaggerate, to caricature, and in several other ways to fuzzy up the lines of truth and lie. We must stay out of the gray areas.
I turned off the news during the last couple of months of the campaign. I’m not a fan of Trump and I can’t stand Hillary, so it didn’t much matter which network I watched, my stomach was going to turn. But since election night I’ve watched quite a bit of news and it is sickening. Again, need I mention that I’m a diehard #NeverTrumper and if he runs again in 2020, I may well be again. But some of the stuff I’ve read and watched about him is just plain ridiculous. It isn’t just inflated, it is insane.
- One liberal friend told me that Trump was tied to the KKK and refused to believe anything different – that’s what her pro-Hillary sites had told her, I guess.
- Another posited that all who voted for Trump did so because they are white supremacists. I tried to explain that the presence of white supremacists bothered me, but that most I knew voted against Hillary more than they voted for Trump. He – a hostile atheist – felt he knew Christians and their motives (having had no contact with any) better than I did.
- Of course, if you watched the reports on the MSM, things got ca-razy.
But the Christian and conservative movements (two different things) have been horrendously guilty of Truth Abandonment Disorder. It infuriates me far more than liberal lies do. Having attended a liberal Baptist college, I saw how truth played second fiddle to the agenda and I’ve watched the MSM through the years. I just don’t expect liberals to tell the truth. But I do expect it from my camp, from conservatives. And I think Christians ought to hold themselves to the highest standard of truth-telling. When Fox lies, it bothers me more than when MSNBC does it. When memes long on heat and short on light find their way through the internets and I see my friends and family sharing them, it saddens me. We have sinned against God by passing on lies against President Obama for the last 8 years. Some of the stuff that went around would
We have sinned against God by passing on lies against President Obama for the last 8 years. Some of the stuff that went around would have been sinful if it was true – we are to respect our leaders and personal insults, derogation, and ridicule hardly honor our Savior. But a lot of the stuff that went around was just not true. It was lies. From the birther nonsense about Obama being born in Kenya to the lies about him being a Muslim (he’s a very liberal Christian – I have no idea if his faith is genuine). The conservative church engaged in a sad spectacle of lying for 8 years. It was the same when Bill Clinton was in office.
Yes…yes…yes. I know “they” did it to George W. Bush. The left skewered him with lie after lie. But I’m not a leftist so I don’t care. They lie because they have to (in my humble but correct opinion) – there’s so little truth on the left they must resort to that. But, my friend, when did what “they” do become the standard for our behavior? Is not our standard Christ (the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life) and the inerrant (nothing but TRUTH) word of God? Do we engage in lies because they do it? God help us!
This campaign saw more than it’s share of lying liars who lied.
- AWR Hawkins published an absolute lie on Breitbart about Beth Moore, in an article headlined, “Beth Moore stands in the gap for Hillary Clinton.” I had a man express in our prayer meeting his disappointment that Beth Moore endorsed Hillary. Why? He read Breitbart and mistakenly assumed they spoke the truth. We CANNOT, we must not believe a story just because it plays into our conservative biases. Check facts. Beth Moore never endorsed Hillary, she just pointed out that if the church dismisses Trump’s statements about sexually assaulting women as no big deal, we send a chilling message to the many women in our pews who are dealing with the pain of abuse. Hawkins lied. Breitbart lied. We need to tell the truth.
- I read the same thing about Russell Moore several times – that he was a Clinton supporter. He made it clear he supported neither, but the truth could not be allowed to interfere with the narrative. Moore Derangement Syndrome has clearly overtaken many in our little ecclesiastical family. Lying about Russell Moore has become a cottage industry. It is perfectly acceptable to disagree with him – I do sometimes. But at least let’s tell the truth when we do.
- Have you heard Hillary Clinton described as a “baby-killer?” Okay, I get it. I may have even said it, I don’t know. If some of my friends and some of the commenters here are to be believed, Hillary went from hospital to hospital with a scalpel and tongs looking for pregnant women whose babies she could dismember, cackling as the blood dripped from her hands. The truth is that Hillary supports every form of abortion, even the most egregious forms such as partial-birth abortion. She is an abortion radical, pro-death to the core. I’m thrilled she will not be president. But the term “baby-killer” is straining at the boundaries of truth, isn’t it? Can we not accomplish our goals without such exaggerations?
- I went to a site yesterday which I seldom go to because a friend emailed me about the typically toxic and divisive discussion. It saddened, but did not surprise me to find a comment there that contained an outright lie. In an earlier version of this post, I named names and called out the liar, but I decided I wanted to keep this focused on the main point and reward the man by turning the focus on him.
It was a perfect example of the problem.
We devote ourselves to crusades and slowly but surely we can find ourselves adopting the worldly strategy – the ends justify the means. I challenged another blogger once, and he encouraged his friends to do what they could to dig up dirt on me and destroy my reputation and ministry. (By the way, my most embarrassing moments have pretty much been on blogs – they are here to read.) He was on a crusade, convinced he was God’s tool of justice in the world. If he had to do evil to accomplish his crusade, he would do it.
That tends to happen with the truth. Hillary Clinton was a bad candidate with bad views, but it is easier to describe her with pejorative insults – whether they are true or not. Beth Moore is unpopular with a lot of people, so why not take her down a peg by claiming she endorsed Hillary, even if it’s not true. I’m sure it was effective clickbait for Breitbart. By the way, as dishonest as Breitbart has been, it is better than quite a few of the other so-called conservative sites. I engaged in a discussion with a site that had a cross on a background of an American flag and was pumping out lies and insults left and right. They didn’t care. Beating Hillary justified anything.
The first step in healing the breaches in the SBC is to obey God’s word which commands us to speak the truth in love. We must obey 1 Corinthians 13 and remember that if we accomplish great things (if our page views are up and people applaud us enthusiastically) but we have not acted in love (and truth) we have accomplished nothing. We are not going to go anywhere as long as we do not hold ourselves to the truth. We must speak the truth. We must speak it in love.
It’s time to speak truth. Abandon and confront lies. Refused to hear them, pass them on, share them on social media. It has to stop. We must fact check, not just say, “It is funny” or “It serves my purpose.” A lie is a lie even if it helps you. And it is a sin.
I’m afraid that sometimes, in our zeal, we may have forgotten that.