Bearing False Witness
by Doyle Ranstrom on Mar 20, 2022
Years ago when Jimmy Carter was President, I read an article about a reporter who went to visit President's Carter's mother regarding Carter's reputation of never telling a lie. When the reporter asked Carter's mother, if he ever lied, she said well of course he told white lies. The reporter thinking she had a big story asked what Carter's mother meant, and Carter's mother replied, "Like when I answered the door and said nice to see you, thank you for coming".
I know I do white lies. For example, more than once I had said to someone that is a very interesting perspective, thank you for sharing when I really thinking, that is the one of dumbest things I have ever heard. I am sure lots of people think the same thing when talking to me. Though most often, what I generate is boredom, because as it turns out, I am pretty boring.
There is a difference between white lies and outright lies. In the Old Testament, outright lies are called "bearing false witness" and are part of the Ten Commandments. When Moses brought the Commandments down from the mountain, probably sometime around 1250 BC, they were said to be on a stone tablet. Since stone tablets are difficult to copy not to mention heavy to carry, so the Commandments were passed on through oral tradition and not actually written down until hundreds of years later. From oral tradition to written word, the intent never changed, "do not lie".
Our society, like every other one, struggles with truth and many today have taken bearing false witness to an art form. Terms like fake news and alternative facts are simply ways of lying.
With the ongoing tragedy of Putin's invasion of Ukraine, it is pretty easy for most of us to acknowledge the lies coming from Putin and Russia. Putin said things like the invasion was for peace keeping, or combat Nazism to name two. Using government propaganda, he has continually lied to the Russian people about the war, though many Russians dissented, like the brave female broadcaster who protested the war on live TV and was later arrested.
But what about our own country's lies to ourselves. I would suggest that many in our country are promoting or at a minimum holding their noses and looking the other regarding three outright lies.
- One, the past Presidential election was stolen. This is often called the "Big Lie". There has never was any evidence of his which has been verified by multiple recounts. But the lie persists.
- Two, the January 6th was not an insurrection. One Senator has called it a "peaceful protest", another Congressman called it a "normal tourist visit" and the former President called a display of "spirit, faith and love". Those are all lies and the ones saying it and their supporters are bearing false witness. The reality is the total cost of the Insurrection will be over $30 million, 138 police officers were injured and four committed suicide in months after the Insurrection because of the psychological damage from the attack on the Capital. So far, over 800 insurgents have been arrested with many pleading guilty or have been convicted.
- Three, the former President called Putin a genius. No, Putin is a brutal dictator who does not allow free speech, imprisons those who disagree with him, devastated both the Russian economy and the Ukrainian economy. Worst of all, thousands of Ukrainians, soldiers and civilians along with Russian soldiers have died because of him and his decisions. In early March, one US Congressman said of the President of Ukraine, "Zelenskyy is a thug,” and "the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies". It is hard to believe this individual got more than two votes [he and his mother] not to mention won an election.
None of the above are political opinions. They are lies. The individuals, media sources, and political groups who are perpetuating them are bearing false witness. To support them in anyway is to condone and accept lies.
One last thought, if you think the above are harmless white lies, think again. Look at the human, social and economic costs to first to the people in Ukraine, then many of the people in Russia, and finally throughout the world including the US. There is a reason thou shall not bear false witness is in the Commandments.