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Bearing false witness

Could the 10 Commandments help us with our misinformation problem?

It struck me recently that I haven’t heard the Ten Commandments read in a worship service for as long as I can remember. I can’t say whether this paucity of Ten Commandment reading is typical of CRC churches, but I suspect it is. This differs mightily from the days of my youth when said commandments were read every Sunday morning without fail (and the Apostles’ Creed was faithfully read, and eventually recited, at the obligatory second service).

What occasioned my wondering about the infrequent reading of the Ten was an email from an acquaintance. It claimed there was proof that the Canadian government, and Justin Trudeau in particular, has been eager to get as many people vaccinated against covid-19 as possible because the vaccines contain tiny electronic sensors that allow 24/7 surveillance of citizens by the government. When I asked my acquaintance about the nature and origin of the “proof” that he purported to exist, he replied that a trusted Facebook “friend” passed this information to him and, given my acquaintance’s low opinion of the Prime Minister and his government (justified by how he is in bed with those NDP socialists), he had every confidence in the information he received and felt duty-bound to pass it on, as a warning to others to resist being vaccinated.

Anti-social media

The 9th commandment forbids the bearing of false witness. It has usually been interpreted to apply primarily in juridical situations. Thus, in a court case, one must promise to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” to abjure false testimony against anyone and to do nothing to besmirch anyone’s reputation. Clearly, as Lord’s Day 43 of the Heidelberg Catechism explains, this commandment is not only germane in court, but everywhere else as well. It stresses the need to “avoid lying and deceit of every kind.” Rather, it states, I should “love the truth, speak it candidly. . . and I should do what I can to guard and advance my neighbour’s good name.” Would that this injunction be prominently displayed on every social media site and prefaced by every post on Facebook and its relatives.

I have personally forsworn membership on Facebook as I view it as a largely ANTI-social medium. Any media platform that allows anonymous posts and the proliferation of rumour, innuendo and just plain misinformation ought to be avoided by Christians who believe that following the Ten Commandments is still one of the best ways to love our neighbours as ourselves.

It might also be good to be reminded of them in our churches more frequently.

Author

  • Bob Bruinsma

    Bob is a retired Professor of Education (The King’s University) living in Edmonton.

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