As we near the end of a US Presidential election cycle, I find myself asking a question.
Does anyone value the truth anymore?
True facts, lies, and half-lies have been bandied about by the press and by ordinary people who are passionate about their candidate. (Is there even such a thing as a half-lie, or does even the smallest bit of untruth make it a full-fledged lie? Probably.)
What’s a person to believe?
I read many different news sources, each with their own personal prejudices that can slant the coverage. By weighing everything, perhaps we can get close to what’s true. But sometimes the truth really does lie at one or the other of the extreme positions and not somewhere in the middle. Some things really are black and white, not some shade of gray. But are we willing to accept what’s true, black or white or gray, if it’s not what we want to believe?
Even if a candidate is a person of impeccable honesty, too many of their supporters or opponents fail to be. Too many seem willing to say or do almost anything to place their own candidate in a better light or to hurl mud on the opponent.
When caught in a lie, the response is too often a shrug, as if it doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t be that way.
As Christians, we’re called to a much higher standard, and not just in an election year.
It’s even one of the Ten Commandments: Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.
What does it mean not to bear false witness? Very simply, don’t say things about a person that you do not absolutely for a fact know to be true. And as long as keeping silent won’t lead to someone being harmed, it’s often better to say nothing bad even if it is true.
When Paul was describing the problems in the church in Corinth, he called out quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder. (2 Corinthians 12:20) That pretty well sums up the common responses to this political season.
No matter how the elections turn out, let’s try to follow Paul’s admonition to the members of the church in Philippi. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable―if anything is excellent or praiseworthy―think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)
Let’s always speak the truth, but let’s always do it in love.