This post was first published on October 12, 2016. The only comments I received at that time were from people who wanted to remind me that all politicians lie. Now, two years later, most of us realize that Donald Trump is not a normal politician. Fact checkers have been busy especially during the mid-term election campaign counting our president’s lies. Trump’s tsunami of untruths helped push the count in The Fact Checker’s database past 5,000 on the 601st day of his presidency. That’s an average of 8.3 false statements a day. In fact, in a nine-day period in September while Trump holding campaign rallies, he averaged 32 false or misleading claims a day. In the past two weeks his biggest lies claimed that a new tax cut would be passed by the legislature before the mid-term election (when Congress isn’t even in session) and that he is going to write an executive order to end “birthright citizenship” – something promised in the Constitution. Trump evidently doesn’t believe the truth about lies in Scripture
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Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3: 1-5, NIV).
I was watching the second debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, feeling sick to my stomach. As Donald Trump continually lied, evaded, and falsely accused, I was reminded of the verses in Genesis 3 quoted above. The devil is well-known throughout Scripture as the Father of lies. Speaking to a group of Jews, Jesus called him out:
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
The devil is father of lies and it seems that Donald Trump is his disciple. I am well aware that politicians since the beginning of time have evaded the truth and even lied to protect their agendas, their power, or their “electability.” But this 2016 election seems to have brought out a new breed of liars personified by Mr. Trump.
I am reminded of a book by M. Scott Peck, People of the Lie, which takes up the question of evil. In it he posits that there are some people who are so morally bankrupt that they can be termed “evil.” Here are a few quotes from that book:
- The evil of this world is committed by the spiritual fat cats, by the Pharisee’s of our own day, the self-righteous who think they are without sin because they are unwilling to suffer the discomfort of significant self-examination” (p. 72).
- A predominant characteristic of the behavior that I call evil is scapegoating. Because in their hearts they consider themselves above reproach, they must lash out at anyone who does reproach them. They sacrifice others to preserve their self-image of perfection” ( page 73).
- “Since they must deny their own badness, they must perceive others as bad.”
- “They project their own evil onto the world. The evil attack others instead of facing their own failures” (page 74).
The website “gotquestions.com” says that “Satan has told more lies to more people (and even angels) than any being ever created. His success depends on people believing his lies. He has used everything from “little white lies” to huge, pants-on-fire whoppers to deceive folks. Adolph Hitler, a man who learned how to lie effectively, once said, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”
Lies are important; they cannot be defended or excused. We cannot justify lies by saying “every politician lies.” We cannot defend lies by saying that “sometimes we need to lie to gain what we want or to prevent something we don’t want” (James Bryan Smith in The Good and Beautiful Life). Smith goes on to say,
“These are two of the main reasons why we lie: we think we need to (1) to get what we want, or (2) to avoid something we don’t want. And if the universe revolves around us, then the lying is justified. We now have a narrative that allows us to sleep at night. Unfortunately we are destroying the integrity of our own souls. According to Jesus, even if we gain the whole world but lose our soul, we have truly lost what is most important (p. 108).”
As Christians, we must fight for our integrity. We must tell the truth. Paul urged the Colossians “Do not lie to each other since you have taken off your old self with its practices” (Colossians 3:9 NIV). We need to monitor our thoughts and our words. We need to avoid exaggeration, “little white lies,”and outright falsehoods. We need to follow Jesus, not the Father of lies.
But we also need to question and promote the integrity of our leaders – and those who want to be our leaders. They, too, must tell the truth. We cannot turn a blind eye to the character of someone would be our president. A man who lies, who covers up and defends his lies, who lies about the fact that he lies, and most importantly feels that lying is just a smart way to do business and get what you want, is not fit to be our president. I believe that Christians must recognize this lack of integrity and speak out against it.