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Truth, Lies & Politics

Politicians aren’t known for their honesty. “I am not a crook,” and “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” are two memorable whoppers. For the most part, however, politicians don’t lie so much as they overpromise. “We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators,” and, “If you like your health care you can keep it” fall into this second category, in my opinion.

President Trump’s lies, and the lies of some of his supporters, are in a class by themselves. The lies the President told about our election integrity weren’t just about protecting his political career, or advancing a policy proposal, or covering up a private indi

But there is a bigger problem in our society than political lying. No one is compelled to watch cynical pundits promote kooky conspiracy theories on cable news, but many of us choose to do so. One of our Reformed confessions states that part of what it means to be a sinful human being is, “We accept lies as truth.” Something in us wants to be lied to. We cannot fix our broken political system merely by electing honest people. We need ordinary people to repent. We need to love the truth more than lies, even when the truth hurts.

Everyone needs to repent from “accepting lies as truth,” not just the cranks and buffoons who stormed the Capitol Wednesday. Social media companies want you to have a pleasant experience on their platforms, so they often shield you from words and images they think you might find unpleasant. Increasingly we live in echo chambers where it appears that all “right-minded people” share our opinions and prejudices. Inside these media bubbles, it is easy to be lied to and enjoy being lied to, whether we’re Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, socialists, or apolitical.

Part of repentance and conversion entails getting out of our echo chambers and being in conversation with people who see it differently. Do more listening than talking. Use I-statements when you do talk, rather than You-statements. “As I see it” is a better way to start a sentence than, “Why can’t you see that…?”

True repentance and conversion is turning your life over to Jesus Christ. He is the Truth.

True repentance and conversion is measuring all truth claims by the scriptures. They are the Rule of Faith.

Now bringing the scriptures to bear on politics is difficult. There are many verses, and many contemporary issues. Don’t fail to see the forest for the trees. Scripture teaches only two big truths, said the theologian Augustine: how to love God with your whole being, and how to love your neighbor as yourself. Look at the political process through those two lenses, and not through the lenses of paranoia and assuming people who disagree with you are bad people. They might just be mistaken!

Your mission as a Christian citizen is not to win at all costs. Your mission is to bear witness to God’s love in Jesus Christ in the political square. That’s all.

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