Thou shall not bear false witness. . . unless your false witness is in the form of an email. In that case, feel free to forward your lies to everyone in your address book. For although God is truth and His followers must walk in truth, it’s really not a big deal to pass on an email that might not be completely true. I mean most of it is probably true and anyway, it does a great job of proving our preconceived opinion and we’re just sending it to a few of our friends. So what’s the big deal.
Thou shall not bear false witness. . . unless you’re discussing politics. In that case, you can say whatever you want to win the argument. Remember that politicians and pundits are allowed to exist in their own morally ambiguous realm. The purpose of political discourse is not truth but triumph. The ultimate goal is victory for our side. Even if we might have to exaggerate the truth a bit or completely demonize our opponents to win the war.
Thou shall not bear false witness. . . unless you have your own talk show or syndicated column. In that case, feel free to daily polarize the dialogue with half truths and downright falsehoods. Call individuals with sincere social convictions Nazis, label moderates Marxists, and smear the integrity and name of every single person or organization that gets in your way.
Thou shall not bear false witness. . . unless your false witness wins the war, unless your false witness sways the masses, unless your false witness destroys your enemies, unless your false witness appears to go unnoticed.
What if Christians were known for their truthfulness? What if Christians valued truth so much that they refused to participate in anything that hinted of a lie or even a manipulation? What if Christians never forwarded emails unless they were completely certain that every single word was true. What if Christians refused to engage in the political power struggles that reek of an anti-Christ spirit? What if Christians stopped following and listening to leaders who perpetually twist the truth for political, religious, and social gain?
Thou shall not bear false witness! From the mouth of God, to the world, to the garbage. What an impossible commandment. Without false witness, the internet might cease to exist. Worse yet, I’d have to find another way to win an argument.
Doug, you might want to consider re-posting this every day until the election. Thanks, as always, for being a sane and faithful voice in our political and cultural wilderness!
Susan, it is truly disconcerting when people accept a half truth or a flat out lie, simply because they already don’t like that person or their ideology. I hope I can maintain sincere objectivity, even when I hear a rumor about my “enemy” that seems to justify what I already believe about him or her. Thanks for the comment!
Doug, while I’m not a Christian (or believer of any sort), I’m constantly having to remind my Christian relatives not to do things like this. People who are the subject of these rumors can be targeted in real life, and I feel because it’s so easy to verify the truth of a matter it’s an informed person’s responsibility to correct the misguided assumptions people may have about a given subject. Hopefully by calling attention to this passive behavior of forwarding chain emails and reposting shocking Facebook photos and articles, it will remind people that spreading untruth in such a way is just as bad as telling a bald-faced lie.