Faith, lies and the First Amendment
By Ross Reitz
One of my favorite scenes from C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” is when Lucy and Edmund return to Earth from their first visit to Narnia. Lucy tells a fantastic story of a mystical land full of talking animals and incredible creatures that is accessed by walking through the back of the wardrobe. Her brother Edmund makes the much more sensible statement that Lucy made the world up and he was just playing with her.
Lucy and Edmund’s older siblings, of course, believe Edmund — for Lucy’s story is unbelievable, and Edmund’s story matches what we’ve always experienced. But the older brother and sister are confronted with one major dilemma: Lucy has never lied, and Edmund almost never tells the truth.
C.S. Lewis’s point is clear: as Christians, we believe many things that would seem fantastical — miracles, the Virgin Birth, Jesus’ Resurrection. There is no reason anyone should believe our stories unless we prove to be so truthful that we can be trusted even with beliefs that extend beyond what we see every day.
As Christians, we live by faith and not just by what we see (2 Corinthians 5:7). But lately, many Christians have taken the word “faith” to mean that they have the right to believe whatever they want, regardless of truth. If we are witnesses to the true Resurrection of Jesus Christ, then we must be strong enough to admit the truth always, even when it goes against our political ideals.
As followers of the example of Christ, we cannot waste our clout by denying climate change. We cannot support foreign policy that encourages other governments to kill Christians and other political dissenters. We cannot justify hatred and racism because of loyalty to our ancestors.
The internet has expanded our ability to communicate, and with great power comes great responsibility. The founders of our country fought for our right to speak and practice what we believe. But they did not fight for our right to lie or spread false information. As our country now faces the challenge of protecting free speech while also protecting democracy from lies and foreign manipulation, Christians should be at the forefront of finding this balance. But how can we if we continue to preach and base our ideals on information that is both untrue and unbiblical?
All of us, being fallible, will pass on incorrect information sometime, but we have the responsibility to check our beliefs both with observed fact and with the teachings of the Bible. When we are incorrect, we will do more to influence others by having the courage to admit our errors, than by creating new lies to cover them up. If we continue to choose to justify false information to support our political ideals, we will not only hurt our country, we will destroy any reason for people to come to know our God.
Ross Reitz has been a Suffolk resident since 2009. Prior to that, he taught the Bible in Africa for two years and spent six years as a teacher at a Christian school in Philadelphia, Pa.