Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Politics of Falsehood



    I try to guard my personal opinions from the members of my church because their knowledge of my opinion may interfere with my ability to communicate a far more important message.  I hope that no one in the congregation of our church ever feels that they cannot objectively hear what I am teaching about the Bible because of some perceived political disagreement.  Even so, I have grave misgivings about our upcoming election and it isn’t just about the candidates.  My problem is that, perhaps now more than ever, the truth is taking a beating.

    In the television series “House,” Dr. Gregory House is fond of reminding his staff that “Everybody lies.”  Never has this been truer than during this election.  Each candidate has been caught stretching the truth, or worse.  It seems that after every speech or public appearance the fact-checkers are out in full force pointing out what was incorrect or misrepresented.  Even the media have been caught being “inventive.”  Sadly in the decades since the Watergate scandal, we’ve grown accustomed to “media bias” and understand that each news outlet allows their particular worldview to color their reporting, but now we’re seeing media outlets create their own news or creatively editing audio and video without revealing what they’ve done.  Heck, even the fact-checkers can’t be trusted.  After a recent speech by Paul Ryan, one set of fact checkers went wild pointing out his apparent “lies,” followed by another that pointed out the flaws in the “facts” presented by the first set of fact-checkers, and so on… for nearly a week.  

(Sigh)

    The television show, The X-Files” told us that we should “trust no one.”  This election certainly seems to make us think that this is true, but if we take a look at scripture we might regain a better perspective.  Our problem is that we expect our leaders to tell the truth, and our anger and disillusionment grow out of their failure to live up to our expectations.  We often think of the Bible as being full of love and grace, but in this regard scripture cautions us to be far more cautious, perhaps even downright cynical.  Psalm 20:7 reminds us that while “Some trust in chariots and some in horses… we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”  Whenever we think that the government or the military or any human authority is our salvation, we are in deep trouble.  Isaiah goes farther saying, “Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem? (Isaiah 2:22)  Particularly when we expect government to be trustworthy, our trust in is misplaced.  Psalm 118:8 teaches that “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.”

    The clear theme here is that whenever we put our trust in human beings, we are sure to be disappointed but there is one upon whom we can safely place our trust.  Psalm 119:138 declares that “The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.” And Proverbs 3:5 says that we should “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

    So does that mean that we as Christians should give our elected representatives and our media pass?  Should we simply overlook their self-serving dance with the truth?  Clearly, no.  Proverbs 12:22 says that “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” What’s more, Paul declares that “…it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (Romans 12:21)  We should not overlook what our elected officials and the candidates for office are doing to the truth, but we should do all that we can to hold them accountable.

    As we move ever closer to our next presidential election, the followers of Jesus Christ need to hold fast to the truth that we have been given.  We cannot be content to choose the “lesser of two evils” but instead remember our calling to be agents of truth and good in the world around us.  The apostle Paul put it this way, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  (Romans 12:9)

    Instead of giving anyone a pass for playing fast and loose with the truth, or making excuses because “everybody does it,” let us instead recommit ourselves to love, hope, and goodness.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  (1 Corinthians 4:2) 

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