Electronic Lies

by Tim Hall
If Snopes.com gave frequent flyer miles, I’d have enough points to take a vacation. For those who aren’t familiar with Snopes, it’s a site on the Internet that attempts to set records straight. At any given moment there are dozens of hoaxes and lies shooting through the ethernet. Sometimes it’s easy to spot a lie, but at other times we just don’t know. Snopes investigates the most common stories and reports their findings to any who are interested.
I visited there again yesterday. The e-mail I received was alarming. It spoke of the dangers posed by a certain world view, a view that is seemingly incompatible with the American way of life. As the message concluded, it connected a high profile political candidate with those very views. How could we even think about voting for this person if they hold views as dangerous as this?!
Snopes debunked the claims. A lengthy explanation stated the candidate’s actual views, and a video was included in which the candidate gave a detailed response to the charges. If a person is allowed to speak for himself, then this man answered the accusations I had read earlier.
I know the person who sent the e-mail with these charges. You’d be hard pressed to find a more dedicated Christian. But this person erred in forwarding the e-mail without checking the facts.
“He who speaks truth declares righteousness,” wrote the wise man, “but a false witness, deceit” (Proverbs 12:17, NKJV). According to scripture, it’s a serious matter to spread erroneous views, whether we do it knowingly or in ignorance. When we have the ability to know the facts, we should go to great lengths to check them out. If we don’t have that ability, we should remain silent.
The principle continues today: “Therefore putting away lying, ‘Let each of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25). Paul doesn’t limit truth-telling to messages of a religious nature. Any message we share with others ought to be based on truth.
Now for the rest of the story: What should I do once I know a message is wrong? I’m not excited about the candidate who was slandered. Why not just keep quiet and let others think the worst about him? In that way, a better candidate might be elected. But can God’s people allow error to go unchallenged? How does that fit with this admonition: “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1). Should I allow my brethren to continue forwarding misleading information?
Truth is truth, whether it’s what we want to hear or not. As people of God, we have an obligation to communicate only what we know to be true. And when error comes our way, let us have the courage and love to correct it.

3 Replies to “Electronic Lies”

  1. Thanks for writing this article! This subject has been a pet peeve of mine ever since I was first duped by the internet. But the sad part is, the Christians I know don’t seem to care if something is true or not. They forward emails saying things like, “I don’t know if this is true, but it is really interesting” or “I don’t know if this is true but it sure ought to be”. I keep getting the same hoaxes, even from those I have already corrected. I am incredibly frustrated. Since Snopes doesn’t work for them, maybe sending your article each time will do the trick 😉

  2. Amen Tim Hall! Truth is Truth, God is Truth(Jn.17:17)and that’s the truth! As Jesus people we should be about the truth, the whole truth and yes, nothing but the Truth. After all, He who is not just The Truth, but The Way and The Life, died for this very reason; that truth should defeat the lie and hence the father of lies, Satan. This would “free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”(He.2:15). By abiding in His Word they would know the truth and the truth would set them free.(Jn.8:31-32) In Proverbs 12:22 the Lord says,”Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal faithfully are His delight.” I want to be His delight don’t you?
    When before Pilate, Jesus said,” Everyone who is of the truth hears My Voice”. I want to be of the truth and hear His Voice, don’t you?
    Anything less than truth is from the devil and should be avoided like the plague it is.
    Lord help us to be People of Truth and nothing less for Your Glory. Grace&Peace,Mike

  3. Great article. Every congregation needs to be addressing this issue, for many fine Christians are ever so excitable and gullible. As we have long taught, ignorance does not change sin. I appreciate Tim’s pointing out our responsibility to set the record straight with the senders of e-rumors. Often, people do not welcome even the kindest of corrections; but it remains our duty.

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