When Jesus stood before the Roman governor in Jerusalem awaiting the decision that would condemn him to crucifixion, he brought up the subject of truth. To this, Pilate famously replied “what is truth?” Apparently, the assumption that politicians have trouble recognizing truth has a long historical precedent.
It has always been difficult for us, the public, to know what is actually true in the world around us since we are, for the most part, dependent on others to tell us what’s going on. Sadly, like so many other things in our society, the press has become deeply partisan. Unbiased reporting may no longer exist, but, apparently, that’s okay with us since we all tend to gravitate to the “truth” that aligns with what we already believe.
Those in positions of power treat us as patsies, throwing out bread crumbs to lead us down paths of their choosing, and, led by our own biases, we follow merrily along. We’re a nation that no longer wants the truth if it conflicts with our desires, and the media seem more than happy to accommodate us by shaping “truth” as both pro and con, depending on which pundits we champion.
Then again, we’ve been trained to believe falsehoods for some time now. I can remember when a baby in the womb was a human being, rather than a nuisance. In terms of life, we’ve been blind to the truth, and hypocritical for some time. It is always astounding when we hear of someone being charged with manslaughter for causing a pregnant woman to miscarry through a criminal act, while those who kill an infant in the womb through abortion are compensated monetarily.
The latest assault on the veracity of truth is the dogmatic assertion that gender is not binary, but fluid. We are asked – no, commanded! – to forget that gender is biologically tied to ones’ DNA and pretend that those who have male DNA are actually females, if they self-identify as such. Just like so much that is ravaging our society, the error of biological fluidity is being costumed in such a way that opposition is portrayed as hateful and discriminatory. But, like Hans Christian Anderson’s story concludes, “the emperor has no clothes.” No amount of costuming can hide the naked truth that self-identification doesn’t change biological distinction.
A last, and patently pervasive example, is our society’s readiness to accept the principle that it is permissible to act badly and lie in order to bring about a good outcome. Too many in positions of power and persuasion use ambiguity, re-definition (think what “is” is), half-truths, obfuscation, and outright lies to get their way. Often, this is made to look acceptable under the label of “situational ethics.” That is, sometimes the situation calls for a different ethical standard.
Of course, this is nuclear hogwash of the most dangerous kind. Such behavior is not ethical at all, but rather displays an unfettered ethical system that employs pragmatism for self-serving purposes. And the worst thing is, no matter how outrageous and down-right despicable some behavior is, there will always be a cheering crowd willing to overlook deep fissures in character if the result is something that benefits them.
It is time we wake up. As a nation, we are attacking one another even as we are sliding down the steep and slippery slope of situational truth. Having already re-imagined the definition of human life and gender, severing each from their absolute biological foundations, we’re becoming more and more addicted to any so called truth we find beneficial.
But, tragically, at the bottom of the slope is the quicksand of nihilism, where principled moral guardrails no longer exist because the foundation of absolute truth has been demolished.
Fortunately, the disavowal of absolute truth doesn’t destroy the reality of it. We can close our eyes to the sun but that doesn’t make it disappear. What is needed is for us to stop believing the lies, and start demanding that truth be told, complete and uncompromised, and supported by verifiable facts. And then we need the courage to respond to the truth, no matter where it leads. Only by so doing can we hope to lay a sure foundation for ourselves, our neighbors, our nation, and our children. And that’s the truth.
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. “Ethically Speaking” runs Saturdays in The Signal.