In my previous post about the 40,000 sex slaves I included a link to Tom Davis’s blog (linked under the phrase ‘ignorant Christian’). This has gnawed at me ever since. Davis didn’t just parrot the 40,000 prediction, which would be bad enough given the shakiness of it, he went a step further and made up a story that it had actually happened.
After the 40,000 number was proven so grossly inaccurate after the 2006 world cup, the vast majority of NGO’s, government officials, politicians, and journalists shied away from it this time around. David Batstone a good example. In all of my searching and interviews I’ve found few who would touch it as a prediction for 2010, and not a single one, save Davis, who would say that anything even remotely close actually happened.
I asked Davis about this on his blog. In 3 replies and 1 blog post he chose to try diverting attention from his lying rather than fess up. Has he, in effect, been saying that whatever he says, truth or lie, is worth the reward? That for him, the end justifies the means, in this case lying?
This wasn’t a mis-statement or mis-quote on Davis’ part. It was a blatant and intentional lie. I’ve been a writer for a number of years. You don’t write the words he did by mistake. He knew what he was doing. He knew he was lying.
Confession. I’m very far from perfect on this score. I am a poster child for adult ADD (which I view as more of a blessing than a curse btw). My memory is often a rather strange jumble of things that often takes concerted effort to sort out. Much to the chagrin of many I often think out loud which then leads to either me correcting myself on things or to others doing so. The problem I’ve found with sorting things out before opening my mouth is that by the time I sort them out the conversation has traversed 2 or 3 other topics…
Writing unshackles me. I can, usually, take the time to sort through things and make sure that what I’m saying is both what I actually think and is factually correct.
As Christians we should take the moral high ground. We should be more honest than the rest. God does not need us to lie to accomplish his goals. Truth will win out over lies EVERY TIME.
When we lie we lose our moral authority. And do so collectively. Tom Davis telling a lie doesn’t impact only Tom, but his entire ministry Children’s Hopechest* and all of us who are Christians or work in social justice organizations. How can we expect someone to believe us when we’re telling them about Christ when they know they can’t believe us otherwise?
And quite frankly, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven” doesn’t cut it.
This culture of Christian lying seems to start with our teens. We’ve built a little box that defines what a good Christian is. We are quick to condemn anyone who falls outside our little box. Peer pressure and acceptance, for teens, is extremely powerful. What to do when we inevitably then find ourselves outside the little box? Lie about it. It’s a bit tough the first time, but gets easier and easier each successive time.
How often is our little box, defined by our Christian Pop Culture, more restrictive than what God says? How often is someone condemned for something that is a sin in man’s eyes, but not in God’s? If you haven’t already, I suggest reading Phillip Yancey’s Soul Survivor for a start on this topic.
This is all then massively exacerbated at many Christian colleges. At Northwestern College, Bethel University, and Bethel Seminary, all in Roseville, MN, lying is part of the daily routine for many. Students are required to attend chapel every day but many find it too easy to check-in quickly (yes, proof of attendance is required) and then sneak out the side door. Most professors require students to sign a statement on tests that they have read ALL of the assigned material. Not doing so will cost you a letter grade. Just a guess, but I’m betting a chunk of students lie about this one.
Many Christian high schools, colleges, and universities require students to sign ‘lifestyle statements’. Most of these don’t just govern on-campus behavior, but ALL behavior, 24-hours per day, until the day they graduate. These almost universally include prohibitions against any form of sex outside of marriage and any alcohol or drug use. Many also include prohibitions against smoking cigarettes, dancing, holding hands, listening to secular music, going to bars, and a host of other prohibitions. I know a lot of students who attend these institutions. Extremely few go more than a week or two without violating the lifestyle statement they signed. And when asked by authorities if they’ve violated it?
One friend told me that for her the greatest thing about moving to her local state university from the Christian college where she’d spent 2 years was the much higher level of integrity and honesty at the non-Christian university. That’s a very sad statement from a committed Christian.
Next comes adulthood. Adult Christians lie to keep their outward appearance inside the little ‘good-Christian’ box. We lie about some of our beliefs and questioning so that we remain ‘Christianly Correct’ to our Christian friends. And we lie, as Tom Davis did, not to protect ourselves from others opinions, but to accomplish our own goals.
And we wonder why Christians are held in such low esteem by so many.
More next week.
* Children’s Hopechest appears to be a very worthwhile organization that I have supported in the past. The problem I have now is how much of anything they say can be believed given their leader’s willingness to lie so easily.