Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Does the truth even matter?

In Matthew chapter 9 one sides sees miracles, the other the work of Satan.

He drives out demons by the prince of demons

Each sides witnesses the same events, but sees what corresponds to their already fixed opinion of Jesus. Neither was at that point in Matthew's Gospel able to see the Truth. Jesus is God, but one was certainly closer to the truth than the other. 

By shear providence I and my high school government teacher both live here in the Richmond area and I still run into him from time to time. I  am reminded of the things I learned so long ago about our country and how it should work. In those days public schools taught not only government and history, but civics. Pittsylvania County School a very traditional curriculum. 

We were taught that one of the bedrock principles that set our country above others was the presumption of innocence:

In America, a person is presumed innocent until they are found guilty in a court of law. 

A person had to be judged on the law and the facts. 

Today that presumption no longer exists. If anything, it is reversed. A person is presumed guilty until proven innocent. In a world where anyone can self-publish on the internet, the so-called court of public opinion has replaced the legal system. 

How many people writing about Hilary Clinton today have seen the evidence or even taken the time to read and understand the relevant federal statutes and precedent in order to make a reasoned argument? I certainly have not. We read what our favorite news outlets tell us and we judge the person guilty or innocent long before the matter ever reaches a court of law. And even when a person is not found guilt, or a guilty verdict is overturned by a higher court, we don't care very much. We have made our personal determination and we will not be swayed. 

Like the two groups in the gospel we see what we want to see. If we like the person, they could not possibly have done it. If we don't like them, they are guilty. It is not about law and facts; its about which side posts the most.

When non-believers follow the culture down such a path it is bad. When Americans who are also Christians behave in the same way it is scandalous. For Christians words like truth and justice are supposed to mean something. We are supposed to love our enemies. We are supposed to be in the world and not of the world. As Americans, principles like the presumption of innocence should not be empty words. 

The next four and a half months are going to be a real test of the Christianity of us all. The hateful speech and accusations from both sides are going to only intensify as election day draws nearer. We will all be tempted to become the Pharisees, interpreting the actions of those we don't like in the most negative way possible.  We cannot stop the vitriol but we don't have to participate in it. 

Whether one supports Donald or Hillary, we should all be able to see the humanity in each of them. Let us truly be Christian and find something to love in each of them. God does.