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The Ninth Commandment

Just Politics?

by Everett Wilson
November 5, 2012

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The Ninth Commandment




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.



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