The Ninth Commandment
by Everett Wilson
November 5, 2012
It's the day before an election day which has already been compromised, if not decided, by early voting. That is a real but secondary concern of mine.
I am depressed because the election has been rendered worthless by the uncounted and extravagant violations of the ninth commandment during the campaign: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." One side may be more guilty than the other; but even one violation exceeds the limit. I am not keeping score. In this sick environment, few on either side will trust the outcome if the other guys win.
When Bush the Second was President someone tried to get him to respond to a campaign attack which, as I recall, impugned his integrity. He dismissed it casually. "That's just politics," he said.
What? Did he mean that it is okay to lie in a political campaign? Or that we shouldn't believe what anybody says during a campaign, including him? Is the election a charade, an extravagantly expensive game of "Let's Pretend," divorced from the real world? We do it too, so don't believe either side? It sounded as though he left it up to us to figure out what he meant, but I cannot come up with an acceptable, or even rational, definition.
There are lies in the Bible. In the book of Genesis Rachel deceives her father in order to save her life after stealing his household gods—but she does not falsely accuse someone else.of stealing them. Years before, her husband Jacob had lied to his blind father Isaac in order to cheat his older twin. In the book of Joshua, Rahab lies to the men of Jericho about the Israelite spies she has been hiding--and she ends up as a distant grandmother in the genealogy of Jesus. Each of them lied to their neighbors, which is a bad deal, but they did not break the ninth commandment. They lied, but they did not tell lies about their neighbor.
The Bible is never kind to lies and liars, though it occasionally treats some isolated lies as understandable or at least forgiveable. In an early column, as Barnabas, I said that both war and espionage were stinky enterprises sometimes necessary for survival in the kingdom of this world. Balancing those exceptions, however, are the clear declaration that the Devil is l the father of lies, and the consignment to hell of those who never repent of their lies but remain eternally defined by them (Revelation 20:8)..
Lying about your political opponents is never justified in the election process of a democratic republic like ours,even if your adversaries "start it" with unconscionable and false accusations against you. "They asked for it" is not a mature defense.
Consider the consequence. If we know you lied to us in order to get elected, how can we tell whether you are telling us the truth after you are elected? Will you then try to say it was "just politics"?
I don't know why I hope for better. Both parties when in power have spied against our national allies, have treated others as enemies without an open declaration of war, and have willfully deceived us. Better is possible, but not without repentance and accountability. We have been playing with fire for a very long time.
The clock is ticking. and there is a Judgment Day to come, beyond tomorrow.
About the Author:
This is the fourth presidential campaign Everett Wilson has "partially observed" in The Partial Observer. Downhill all the way, as far as the campaigns are concerned.
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