A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue. (Proverbs 17:4)
Guys, we have a real problem here. We have a problem with the truth. And I’m not just talking about society at large, I am talking about Christians. We have become a bunch of liars, and what is even more disturbing about that is that most of us seem to be OK with it. We need to stop!
I am not talking about those times when we may momentarily give into temptation, when we lie because we’ve been caught doing something that we’re embarrassed about or because we are trying to avoid getting into trouble. I’m not talking about the little white lies we tell to protect someone’s feelings. I am talking about lies that we knowingly perpetuate because they support an agenda that we agree with. I am, of course, talking about sharing memes and articles with false information on social media.
Now, you may have chuckled to yourself when you got to that last line. You may think to yourself, surely memes are not to be taken seriously! Surely those are just harmless jokes! Or they just “draw attention” to a subject. Or they are posted to “start a conversation.” Surely it is not important if what they say is true or not! It’s just a silly meme! But I am being dead serious. We have a problem with perpetuating falsehood either by not bothering to find out if it’s true or knowing it’s not true and still sharing it anyway because it makes a point that we agree with and want to convince others to agree with.
But go and learn what this means: ‘Confirmation bias.’ (Not a real Bible verse)
I’ll give you a couple examples. These are all true, and I am not exaggerating. At most I may have changed up a few of the minor details because I’m not looking to call anyone out specifically here. Also, a lot of these have happened more than once with very similar subjects. So it’s possible you might think I’m talking about you when I’m really not, simply because someone else did the same thing you did. But I am willing risk giving offense here because I believe it’s important. So here we go.
Several years ago, someone posted a political meme of Hillary Clinton shaking hands with Osama bin Laden. Now, as common sense should tell anyone, this was fake news. The picture had literally been Photoshopped (created in a photo editing program) and was not genuine. I pointed that out in a comment to the person who had shared it, a Christian, expecting that once they realized that it was perpetuating a blatant lie they would take it down. They did not. In fact another person commenting on the post, who also self-identified as a Christian, said that it didn’t matter that it was fake because, “even if she didn’t do it, it’s something she would do.”
In another example, someone posted a meme about a cancer-causing food. Now, in fact there is some legitimate concern that this might be the case, although it was presented in a very misleading manner that overstated the connection. In addition to the misleading claim about causing cancer, this meme included several other “facts” about the food that were 100% false. Someone in the comments pointed that out, but the person who shared it, also a Christian, said it didn’t matter because the food really might cause cancer.
Both of these are classic and often repeated examples of people tolerating and perpetuating lies because it fits their agenda. And I want to be absolutely clear, that fitting your agenda does not make it OK to lie. Lying is a sin. It is literally one of the 10 Commandments!
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16
We as Christians, more than anyone, should stand up for the truth. We need to start being more discerning about the things we share and say on social media. We need to be better about calling out lies when we see them even when it is a lie that we wish was true. We need to stop making excuses and we need to break this cycle of blatant misinformation.
You may still make a mistake, everybody does. Even I, as much as I hate this type of stuff and as savvy as I believe I am when it comes to the Internet, have occasionally gotten duped into sharing information that turned out to be false. But when that is pointed out to us, when we are called out on it, we need to own up to it, not make excuses, and take it down. Delete that post! And let’s all get better about vetting and checking the information we share for accuracy before we share it. Don’t just hit the post button because it fits the narrative you believe is true. Actually check first and make sure it is. Trust me, the world will be a much better place if we all do this.
Do not lie. Do not deceive one another. (Leviticus 19:11)