Monday, July 13, 2009

In My Humble Opinion

*Note: You are free to disagree with me in the comments but I request you remain civil or I reserve the right to delete your comment. I don't require everyone to agree with me on matters of faith or politics or the merits of tie dye and the vileness of canned peas. I just ask that we behave respectfully toward each other.

Yesterday a particular individual who plagues me with whom I am acquainted preached a message regarding the handling of truth and being honest versus bearing false witness. The majority of what he said I agreed with but the remainder was so disjointed from reality or what I believe to be in the spirit of the biblical example (which is what was being preached) that I had exceeding difficulty not standing up and letting my difference of opinion be known immediately.

Basically, this person shared his ultimate example of truthfulness from his experience in visiting a country which actively punishes people of any faith other than that of the majority though imprisonment, torture, and death sentences. These are facts established by the U.S. State Department, not just folks who may be regarded as religious fanatics by some. So the preacher shared how at the time of his scheduled departure from said country he was detained 3 times for questioning as to his activities and with whom he stayed in which locations. The preacher willingly gave the names of the individuals with whom he had contact and admitted to participating in religious activities which are punishable offenses. He gave over this information because he was compelled to "be honest regardless of the cost."

Excuse me but there wasn't a holy thing about his honesty. The cost for him was nothing more than being deported back to a pleasant, safe, comfortable homeland. The cost for the people of that nation whose names he provided to the authorities is jail at a minimum, likely torture, possible death. Personally, I think he's a sanctimonious horse's ass for lauding himself as a paragon of ethics in such a situation.* He ignored security warnings from more experienced travelers before entering that nation, behaved indiscreetly while there, and finally spilled all the beans just prior to his departure. There was no honor in any of that.

If there is any confusion on this point let me give an example that may make more sense. The setting is Nazi Germany. You have chosen to give secret sanctuary to half a dozen Jews in your attic. In the middle of the night the Gestapo bangs on your door and demands to know the names and locations of the Jews you know who may still be in the area. To lie for the sake of keeping them safe is a sacred duty as far as I am concerned. Giving them up would be betrayal.

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 If you love someone you sacrifice your own skin for their benefit, not that of the people you claim to love for your own benefit.

Thus endeth today's message.

*To those who may wonder if I have followed the model of direct but respectful address regarding my points of disagreement, yes, I have...on more than on occasion...both by myself and in the company of others whose opinion would carry more weight than mine. And if you want to say I am not behaving respectfully by calling this guy such a thing, well...I think it's the nicest possible term for someone who would risk the life of an already imperiled "friend" in order to pat himself on the back for his honesty.


Ananda girl said...

Well you won't get me to disagree! That man's vanity is appalling, and that is my opinion of his rant... that of those like him that I have run across. Mercy!

BTW I love your tags on this.

jinksy said...

I'd join you in bashing him with his own bible anyday...

NYD said...

Although I would like to hear his ide of the story- yes there are at the very least two. My first reaction to hearing this was Rat bastard snitch. The utter lack of comprehension of the meaning of truth is astounding. I'd like him to explain his honest to the people adversly affected.


G-Man said...

Why would you visit a country like that in the first place?
There is NO valid excuse for doing so...

Cocotte said...

Is he a missionary who was preaching at your church? I'm confused.....
Nonetheless, I agree with you. It always gets me when people twist Bible passages to fit their own need to be right.

Desmond Jones said...

Of course you hit the nail squarely on the head, Lime. What your guy did amounts to betrayal of those who had entrusted their lives to him. And to then congratulate himself for his scrupulous honesty is just galling.

Interestingly, I was just recently talking with some folks about Truthfulness and Honesty and the Commandment against Bearing False Witness, and of course, this is the classic 'hard case'. But as your Nazi counter-example (which is 'classic' in its own right) shows, it ain't so hard as all that. . .

Just for the record, a brief selection from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"The right to communication of the truth is not unconditional. Everyone must conform his life to the Gospel precept of fraternal love. This requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it.

"Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others. . . [is] sufficient reason for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a descreet language. . . No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it."

Kat said...

I whole heartedly agree with you. What that man did was a betrayal. It was dangerous, cowardly, ignorant, and horrid. I pray that those whose names he gave are safe.

Jazz said...

I think you're being very nice to restrain yourself to calling him a sanctimonious horse's ass. I'd have a much stronger term.

That's not honesty, that's... words fail me.

And this is the type of person who'll tell me I'll burn in hell because of my atheism? If there's a hell, it's got to have a special room for the likes of him.

Craver Vii said...

I too, am outraged at what sounds glib and flippant from the pulpit, when such a story should have been told instead through tears to a counselor. It sounds to me like he did not do a very good job at what he was trying to communicate. My guess is that he was trying to say that God never asks us to sin, but his example was horrible!

Still... tricky situation, I think. A thorough search through the Scriptures does not turn up even one incident where God asked someone to lie. When we lie for a sovereign God, we act as if He needs our help. God can (and has) worked miracles in situations like that. And it may be that God has ordained martyrdom for one of His chosen ones. He has a special affection for the innocents whose blood was poured out.

A person who is wise and loving, prepares for such situations, so that they can be honest without putting anyone in harm's way.

[G-Man, indeed some people go who shouldn't. But some people go because they are compelled by the Holy Spirit and because they love those people more than they love their own lives.]

S said...

That is why I dont go to church.


God is within you. Not in a building.

You can delete this if you want to.

Anonymous said...

Ugh.... religious zealots like this guy is what puts off those fropm the religion inthe first place. Religion is not I, Me, Me, My... there is no reward for doing the 'godly' thing other than to brag about it, which then puts more people off. The man should have just stayed quiet. Why shouldn't he be the one in jail versus getting deported?

Suldog said...

Amen. 100% agreement. A lie told to spare another person some pain is as holy as anything on this earth. A truth told without regard to consequences is as evil as anything in Satan's wet dreams.

Jeni said...

He sure did no favors to those he had supposedly "ministered" to prior to being detained! Wonder, if the situation would have been that if he admitted to having "consorted" with those people that he would be punished with imprisonment, possibly even death, if he'd have been so willing to be forthright about his doings?

Craver Vii said...

"A truth told without regard to consequences..."

Nicely stated, Suldog. Good food for thought.

RennyBA said...

Like others have said: I like your tag on this one!

Other than that: It smells religious hypocrisy.

lime said...

ananda, ah, a librarian especially would take notice of the tags ;)

jinksy, i'll share my thickest version with you

nyd, i commend you for wanting to be fair and hear all the sides.

gman, he was invited by the very people he put at risk with his loose lips.

cocotte, he is a pastor who was relating his personal experience.

desmond, thank you for that excerpt from the catechism. it's very well said. the people this man went to 'minister' to are being targeted for imprisonment, torture and death solely for their faith. complicity with the persecutors is agreement with evil.

kat, i echo your prayers

jazz, yeah, i could generate a whole list of far less charitable descriptors.

craver, while it is not an instance in which god asked an individual to lie the story of rahab in joshua chapter 2 does provide an example of someone who protected god's people by lying to hide them. rahab was later listed in both the genealogy of jesus and in hebrews chapter 11 as a model of faithful behavior for "welcoming the [hebrew] spies" which she did by hiding them and sending those seeking them in the wrong direction. so while i agree we are never commanded to sin and god doesn't need our help and that some are even ordained to martyrdom...woe to those who knowingly facilitate or glibly hasten that martyrdom. thank you very much for your thoughts on the matter.

s, i see no need to delete your comment. you are free to have your opinion

solitaire, yep, simple silence would have been preferable. there would have been no lie but also no cooperation with evil.

suldog, you do have a way with words! may i put your comment on a plaque?

jeni, an excellent question

craver, can't you just see a bunch of people with fish magnets on their cars having that phrase on a bumper sticker. lol, ok...i'm twisted. i admit it.

renny, truly, it does to me too

Tim King said...

Yeah, what he did had nothing to do with bearing false witness against someone else. However, he clearly did not obey the law of love toward those who were being oppressed. And the example you used is similar to one that I used in a story I wrote some time ago.

Don't think you'll find many people who will disagree with you. That's probably why it was one of the hardest things he ever had to do, ironically. I guess the "hard" thing isn't always the right thing.


(M)ary said...

"The preacher willingly gave the names of the individuals with whom he had contact and admitted to participating in religious activities which are punishable offenses"

There is hardly anyway this could be justified without first getting the explicit permission of the people he named.

Mattew 22:36-40: "(Jesus), which is the great commandment in the law?" Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and mind....Love your neighbor as you love yourself...Keep only these and you wll find that you are obeying all the others."

I think that passage means that we should follow the SPIRIT of Christianity rather than blindly following the Laws. In this case, I believe that not revealing the names would be in the spirit of Christianity even if technically the preacher would have had avoid the truth or outrght lie for his fellow Church members.

Logophile said...

You know what I think;
I think the longer you stay in that place, listening to that man the worse off you are and that goes double for your kids.

He is an ass, and many other things could be added. Give me a millstone; I know just what to do with it.

You deserve better, and so do your kids.

secret agent woman said...

It's hard to imagine many people disagreeing with you. What the man did was a selfish betrayal that could cost people who trusted him their freedom or even their lives. To my way of thinking, this is as far from truly leading a spiritual life as you can get.

(funny coincidence, though - I was just posting about hypocrisy within a church yesterday)

Beach Bum said...

The preacher willingly gave the names of the individuals with whom he had contact and admitted to participating in religious activities which are punishable offenses. He gave over this information because he was compelled to "be honest regardless of the cost."

Excuse me?

All I can say it nice he wasn't around spreading the Gospel during the Roman Empire prosecution of Christians. He would have made sure they were all fed to the lions just to be "honest"

elle dubya said...

was he proud of being so truthful and honest? this astounds me.

lime said...

tim, food for thought, eh?

mary, thank you for another relevant passage. very relevant indeed.

logo, sigh, yes, it may be coming to that.

secret agent, well, as i said i was appalled enough that i had great difficulty staying quietly in my seat.

beach bum, eesh, another fine example.

elle, i wanted to scream, really.

Mona said...

That is not only hypocrisy, that is ego incarnate. The man is not only dishonest, but vain too!

Understanding Alice said...

my goodness. working for the church (as a youth worker), I occasionally come across people who dont seem abale to see past the end of their own sanctimonious nose, but I think he takes the biscuit - well done on being so restrained in your post... perhaps he could take some lessons in holiness from Isaac...

Desmond Jones said...

I'm sorry, but I'm compelled to add a further comment, pertaining to ". . . honest regardless of the cost. . ."

Cost TO WHOM? One thing to risk your own neck for the sake of the Truth. But to glibly put other people's lives at risk, for the sake of your own scrupulosity, is missing the concept pretty appallingly. He put absolutely NOTHING of his own at risk (and the very lives of those he would 'minister to'). One should really pause for a second or two before speaking of 'the cost of honesty' TO BE BORNE BY SOMEBODY ELSE. . .

And Suldog, I'm still shaking my head (in admiration, you can be sure) at ". . . as evil as anything in Satan's wet dreams."

lime said...

mona, more or less my thoughts as well

alice, glad to make your acquaintance. thanks for the other comments and the kind words regarding my son.

desmond, EXACTLY my point. and yeah, suldog certainly has a way with words

Jocelyn said...

You remind me why I had to stop going to church.

Pouty Lips said...

Hypocrisy to the max on his part. It's why I am turned off by the righteous. I'd rather be unrighteous and keep someone from dying thank you.

Anonymous said...

"Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a purpose." Albert Scheitzer

I was looking at an old journal from a class I had taken several years ago and I saw this quote. I had remembered reading this post, so wanted to comment. :)