Political posts and the 9th Commandment

On any given day, anyone using Facebook is subjected to a bunch of political posts. I know that some people block or unfriend people who get too political (especially if they hold the opposite view), but I try not to do the unfriend thing if I can help it. It’s too, well, unfriendly.

And actually, I’m grateful for a lot of the political stuff that gets posted on Facebook. I’ve learned a lot and have been reminded about a lot. I’ve learned about human trafficking around the world because of friends’ posts. I’ve been reminded about the liberation of Nazi death camps because of friends’ posts. I’ve become aware of the plight of Assyrian Christians under assault by ISIS because of posts. The connectivity of social media is awesome in its ability to enable us to inform one another about issues we’ve been ignorant about.

But then there are those posts which are angry and just plain false. They drive me nuts.

Things written about the President (Bush or Obama, it doesn’t matter which of the Facebook-era Presidents) that are mean and untrue. Things written about illegal aliens, about Christians, about atheists, about Democrats, about Republicans, about whomever and whatever. There’s just too much untruth being tossed around and reposted by people who would like it to be true because it reinforces their position.

In October 1992, about a month before Bill Clinton was elected President for his first term, a co-worker showed me a prophecy written by one the over-the-top charismatic leaders he followed. The writer had some wacky things to say, but in his prediction that Clinton would be elected, he delivered a pointed message to his conservative readers: Don’t lie about him. Don’t slander him. You won’t like a lot of what he does, but that doesn’t make it OK to lie about him in order to knock him down a bit. I appreciated that.

The 9th Commandment is “Don’t bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). That includes simple lying, but what it really gets at is slander and gossip and perverting justice in court through false testimony. It’s not just fabricating things a person didn’t actually say or do, it’s omitting things they did say or do in order to present that person in a negative light.

Jesus called himself The Truth (John 14:6). Anyone committed to Jesus is committed to The Truth. And that means setting aside any cutting of corners with the truth in order to forward your agenda.

There will always be slanderous things posted on Facebook. But it would sure be nice if those who say they follow Jesus would actually do so and leave slander aside. And let’s stick with the political posts that promote justice and truth. Those are the ones that challenge me and turn my Facebook browsing into time well spent.