On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars


Is it still a sin to tell a lie?

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Is it still a sin to lie? Then why does America shrug off lying?

When our politicians are caught lying, their supporters often resort to the old cliché: all politicians lie.

Thomas Jefferson

But if you study American history, that is itself a lie. Statesmen didn’t lie. It is difficult to find any time that George Washington lied. The same can be said for John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Garfield, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower or Ronald Reagan.

Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton stand out as famous liars – intentionally making untrue statements to the American public and being caught in the act. Among the presidents who did lie, there are enormous differences in the importance and frequency of the lies. 

“Usually when politicians lie, they are trying to avoid political damage, or to make themselves look good,” observes John Ellis in Front Page magazine.

Clinton lied and was disgraced by his impeachment trial. However, he did it to save himself from embarrassment about his sexual misbehavior. His wife, Hillary, lied to the press about coming under sniper fire at an airport in Bosnia. Why? Perhaps to enhance her nonexistent foreign affairs profile.

“Nixon was forced from office because he lied to cover up his involvement in a political dirty trick,” writes Ellis. “John Kerry lied about his Vietnam combat experience to blunt his anti-military reputation.”

But even scarier is how lying is becoming a part of American culture. The culprit is a lack of honesty in the media, higher education and the entertainment industry, writes Andrew Klavan in the New York City magazine City Journal.

“In movies, TV shows, novels, even comedy routines, our intellectuals, entertainers, and others are busily reshaping reality,” writes Klavan. “See if you can spot the difference between reality and American culture. Terri Schiavo was a severely brain-damaged woman who was judicially starved to death in 2005 at the request of her husband, while evangelical Christian right-to-life groups unsuccessfully petitioned to keep her alive.”

That’s reality, however, how has it been twisted in modern American culture?

“An episode of Law and Order entitled ‘Age of Innocence’ depicted a severely brain-damaged woman whose husband tried to euthanize her – until he was murdered at the instigation of an evangelical Christian right-to-lifer.

“In reality, Christians try to keep people alive. In the media, they murder people.

“Anthropological studies have shown that primitive societies are even more violent than civilized ones,” writes Klavan. “Primitive life is pretty miserable in general, with no protection against drought or famine, no medicine – so that even the simplest diseases can be deadly – and no equality for women, who have zero defense against pregnancy or oppression.”

But the media loves the myth of the noble savage.

“In films such as Dances with Wolves, Pocahontas, and Avatar – which are really all the same film,” writes Klavan, “a civilized man enters primitive society and finds its values far superior to his own. The collectivist natives are peaceful, the women are treated with respect and ancient forms of medicine work as well as modern ones.

“Spot the difference?” asks Klavan. “Right! In reality, it’s civilization, democracy, capitalism, and technology that give us greater health, equality, and happiness.”

So when you watch Dances with Wolves and Avatar, while they worship the sacred Earth, but portray U.S. soldiers as evil sadists out to destroy native peoples, see if you can spot the difference between the myth of the films and, for example, Japan and Haiti.

“There our old pal, the sacred Earth,” writes Klavan, “slaughtered innocent people by the thousands and the U.S. military turned out in a massive rescue effort.”

But in the media, notes Klavan, “the U.S. military is always evil, corporations are always corrupt and poverty is always the fault of wealthy people’s greed.”

The problem, explains journalist Marsha West, is that too many in the media and entertainment think that lying is just fine. They don’t care about truth – they are terrified of being politically incorrect.

“Mull this over in your mind,” ask West. “When was the last time you heard an abortion supporter say, ‘I’m pro-abortion’? Pro-aborts proudly proclaim they’re ‘pro-choice,’ or they’re for ‘abortion rights.’ That’s weird. I mean, think about it. A woman has no ‘right’ to kill an unwanted child.” After all, what would the child’s choice be?

So, what’s wrong with a little political correctness?

In Revelation 21:8, John warns “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

That’s not open to much interpretation, notes author Dave Hintz. John also “describes the character of those unfit to enter the pearly gates in Revelation 21:26-27, ‘no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it.’

In Revelation 22:15, John notes the character of those who do not reside in the heavenly city, “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”

Only one sin makes all three lists. Lying.

Of all sins why does God pick on this one?

“First of all,” writes Hintz, “liars do not trust in God. The second reason God hates lying is because He is a God of truth. He is trustworthy and reliable in both word and deed. Therefore, if we are to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 19:2) we must not lie.

“A third reason why God hates liars,” writes Hintz, “is that this sin enslaves the liar. Lies are like potato chips – no one can have just one. When someone tells a lie, he must utter another fabrication to cover it up. With great speed, the liar spins a tangled web of falsehood which envelops himself.

“Only the sharp sword of truth can cut him free.”

And that applies to America.

Even when telling the truth is politically incorrect.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment chaoscoach

    Did a third grader write this?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Grumpy Old Person

    “Christians” lie about God’s gay and lesbian children all the time.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jules

    “But even scarier is how lying is becoming a part of American culture. The culprit is a lack of honesty in the media, higher education and the entertainment industry.”

    What about the lack of honesty and the insipid lying that goes on in Christian pulpits across the nation weekly? Telling people that God wants them to be prosperous and have expensive material things because they are “blessed” is a lie that continues to be perpetuated by megachurches/Bible churches and some Christian pastors and televangelists. In your rant against the media, higher ed and Hollywood, why not add that to your list?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pao

    While excellent points are made in the Scriptural conclusion of this piece .It’s author utilized the slippery slope instuations and misplaced truths in setting up the piece. Truth is truth and using yellowed jouralsim tricks to distort reality is no justification.As Followers of Christ we can and should do better. It is not a single issue of political correctivism but simply not tolerating untruths …deceptions and intolerances in the name of God.Jesus lived and died In the Truth.HE went from being welcomed and hailed int hat truth to Humilation and death on the cross on a week of distorted hearsay and silenced support…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rare Jewel of Christ

    All I have to say is Juels, you hit the nail on the head. My husband speaks about this a lot in our Sunday School class. There is a young man that is always talking about prosperity. My husband has to constantly remind him of why he is here-to be a servant and follower of Christ and not to gain material wealth. Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Do the things that God wants you to do and he will see that you are blessed, but not by the world’s way.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Abambagibus

    Is it a lie upon a lie both unwittingly to live the delusion of the superiority of one’s own intelligence and wittingly to deem the imagined truth of this superiority to be the justification for demeaning those accordingly judged less intelligent? Is this the way of a Christian? Consult the tutor-of-disorder, aka chaoscoach, to find out. Fortasse Ab Ambagibus.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/on_the_front_lines_of_the_culture_wars/2011/04/is-it-still-a-sin-to-tell-a-lie.html#post Monique A. Cline

    The only thing truthful in this editorial are the biblical quotes. The statement that the media, entertainment and higher education are re-writing reality is bunk! Concept of noble savage? Don’t like it? But I bet you liked all those John Wayne westerns when the savage indians were slaughtered and “innocent” villagers rescued! REALITY is that the US Military, government and citizens committed purposeful genocide on the Native American population and called it “Manifest Destiny”. I wonder if you’d have this same attitude if the Russians landed in New York, slaughtered and killed everyone that got in their way all the way to the South and West Coasts because “they have a God-given right” to do so!
    Lies & liars? Where is Mr. GW Bush? His lies cost this country trillions of dollars in debt, but, more importantly, cost thousands of lives?! All for those “weapons of mass destruction” that NEVER existed! But, he and his family sure profited big-time from those $4.00 per gallon gas prices.
    Corporate greed, not a reality? Billions of dollars of bonuses, exotic cars, summer homes, and solid gold bathroom and office fixtures were taken by the banking industry, all with the A-OK by the Bush Adminitration, while their companies took incredible losses and hard-working citizens lost their pensions, savings, and homes! That is REALITY! Why is there almost no-manufacturing industry in this country, because corporations find it more profitable to exploit the workers of other countries where they can dole out meager wages and not have to worry about unions and government regulations. THAT is REALITY.
    Greed and profit have destroyed rain-forests, ecosystems, air and atmosphere; polluted waters and made many wildlife populations extinct so that now the weather patterns have changed, the glaciers are melting and the average temperature rises every year because we’ve trashed the natural resources and over-populated the planet God gave us dominion over. That’s reality. Maybe that’s why movies like Avatar have the viewpoint they have.
    And of all the liars and deceivers out there, you failed to cite the group that have done the most damage: Right-wing fundamentalist Christians! They have made Christianity a bad word, synonymous with hypocrisy, intolerance and bigotry. Like the 9-11 terrorists, their extremists have killed doctors, nurses and employees of abortion clinics and been proud to do so! As if murdering a living, breathing, thinking human being is less consequential than destroying a mass of cells that has not formed, has no thought processes, organs, or functions. All completely ignorant of the facts and reasons for WHY Roe v. Wade passed — because women who don’t want to be pregnant will NOT be pregnant and were dying from the effort. But the Fundamentalists have decided that they are God and rendered judgement! Same with homosexuals. The fundamentalists have vilified this group, even stating that they are damned and going to Hell for being homosexuals; apparently, belief or faith doesn’t enter into that decision. The REALITY, though, is that homosexuality is just A sin, no more, no less. And, as believers, ALL MANKIND are sinners, so what’s the big deal? REALITY is that GOD is NOT DEAD! He DID NOT leave anyone else in charge of JUDGEMENT! The REALITY is that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son and WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM shall have everlasting life… and that includes ALL homosexuals who are among the faithful! If they were really interested in “restoring” the “sanctity” of marriage, than they would not be targeting homosexuals, a small section of our society population-wise, but on the adulterers! Because the number one reason for marital failure in this country is infidelity. AND, though there is no particular hierarchy of sins — one where this sin carries greater penalties than this one — breaking one of the “Big 10″, the 10 commandments, might be a place to start the discussion. And Adultery, NOT homosexuality is one of those commandments. But, as we’ve seen, when the hypocrite speaks, his word comes back on him, so I guess the fundamentalist leave that particular sin uncovered — probably because its the one they are most guilty of! Christ loves EVERYONE. no matter who you love, as long as you try the very best to be Christ-like in your actions and words. That should have been the message of this article, not an political editorial on the evils “liberal thinking!”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mommakdwm3

    Thanks Monique A. Cline for covering most of my thoughts. While I’m still a little “iffie” on your whole homosexuality take, but that’s just my own issues.

    Often times a persons’s surroundings and experience shape a person’s whole way of thinking. Perhaps R. Kerby’s lives the type of life that affords that type of critically supercilious thinking. I will keep Mr. Kerby in my prayers.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Grumpy Old Person

    This whole column is bunum. Childishly written and childishly ‘thought’ out and articulated.

    Epic fail (as Miss Dreher would say).

  • http://Amen!!!!! aj

    One of the few articles that is bold and unafraid to quote the gospel and what it means to Christians. It is not like most of the Beliefnet articles that are wishy-washy New Age theology.

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