Do not testify falsely against your neighbor. Whoo, boy! Are we in trouble here! Yes, of course it means testimony as in a court of law. Perjury is never a good idea; but really it is talking once again about the attitude of the heart and where it can lead us, if we let it. To be succinct, this commandment is a double-barreled shotgun against lying (falsehood) and false witnessing (giving testimony). The first is the one that corrupts the latter. Better to not enter into the first, as if that is possible since “Who can control the tongue?”
Now, I am hardly going to list all of the ways in which we lie. It can be as big as “No, I didn’t rob that bank,” when you know you did. It can be as small as “Yes, dear. That looks good on you.” Let me just say, it only takes one lie to be a liar… But you know that already.
Instead, I would rather look at the testimony part because this is where there seems to be the most need in our day in my estimation.
First of all, politicians spin everything these days. The idea of informing the electorate so informed citizens can make informed decisions for themselves is sneered at and flatly ridiculed. It is all spin to make the official’s position look as good as possible. The facts be damned. You know this is how it works.
Then we have journalists—the purveyors of the “news.” It is all slanted. (I won’t say left or right), but it is slanted, even prejudiced in its presentation. Whatever happened to objectivity? That got killed in J-School. Objectivity has no place in the modern newsroom. Instead, there is the notion of presenting both sides, but you know brilliance is presented as the journalist’s (newsroom’s) side with all deference given and idiocy with mal-content undertones gets the other side. They call this fair. I call it prejudiced in the extreme.
I could go on through plenty of professions: Lawyers, accountants, ministers (yes, ministers), teachers (don’t get me started on education)! But you get the idea. Theory is law, opinion is fact, certain facts are ignored. Other facts are highlighted in a way that isn’t consummate with reality. It stands right beside propaganda even if you don’t want to use that term. It seems you can fool all of the people some of the time. It also seems to me some of the people are being fooled (made fools of) all of the time.
But now, what about the rest of us? One word: Gossip.
Have you ever passed on information about anyone without verifying first? Of course, we do it all the time without thinking. We absorb the magazines, especially the supermarket kind. And we use gossip in many ways and in many forms to manipulate and get our way no matter what people or organizations (including churches, yes, churches) are destroyed.
That’s the catch-22 in our society. If you say you have never passed on a shred of gossip, you are an unique individual. If you say you have never received or heard any gossip and wondered in your heart, you are lying. False testimony and lying; and the attitude of the heart is what matters. What a different world this would be if all of our hearts were clean.