Okay, I’m confused. When did truth become a modern-day amoeba-like concept? When did the definition of truth lose its moorings, and drift into an amorphous blob of personal choice? And, finally, why is that too many people who should know better refuse to admit that their constant braying about their opponents’ disregard for truth only highlights the hypocrisy of their own championing of lies of the highest order?
Lying has become the headline du jour. Face it, we’ve become a nation of liars who cloak our dissembling with highly nuanced declarations and loopholes for plausible deniability. We lie to the press, to the public, to our friends and neighbors, and sadly, often to ourselves.
Most recently, lying has become a prominent political tool. Perhaps I should rephrase that to say blatant lying has become such. Remember the days when our public officials at least had enough decency to keep their prevarications hidden behind closed doors, or were cagey enough not to lie when the cameras were rolling?
Let me go on the record. Lies are just plain wrong, no matter where they are found, or who tells them. They are ethically and morally wrong, and we all know it. And while we ethicists love to engage in discussions on when deceit is not unethical – as in fakes in football, leaving the light on when you leave the house to deceive the criminal, and when your spouse asks if he looks fat in these pants – we all naturally know presenting a falsehood as the truth is wrong.
But what is truth? Simply put, truth is, and has always been, alignment with reality. That is, if I state a proposition I know is false, it is exposed to be true or false based on whether what I have proposed aligns with what is real. If I say I didn’t know about some event or activity when I actually did know about it, then the proposition I have presented is classified as a lie when the reality comes to light. Pretty simple.
And we can certainly expect that lies, when exposed, damage the liar’s credibility in a wide range of areas. At least that should be the case. Yet, it turns out exposing another’s lie can also expose one’s own hypocrisy. This does not negate the lie, but it certainly ought to damage the credibility of those who, while sanctimoniously pointing out another’s untruth are carefully guarding their own.
Case in point. Many progressive liberal thinkers gleefully point out the untruths spewed forth by leading conservatives while, at the same time, they are boldly promoting the most absurd de-truthifying tidal wave of bold-faced deception history has ever known. I am talking about their assertion that gender – whether you are male or female – is really a wide spectrum encompassing what we now hear are over 70 different positions.
Here’s the deal. Gender is not something other than the sex your DNA says you are. It is not fluid. It is not determined by self-identification. Yes, there are a minute fraction of babies born with vestiges of both male and female sexual apparatus, but even that exception proves the rule. None of these exceptional babies are born with anything other than the two possible genders.
Truth, by its very nature, is that which aligns with reality. Yet, our nation is being asked – forced really – to call a lie the truth by those who, at the same time, are braying about the untruths of those on the other side of the aisle. When someone decides to “self-identify” as something other than what their DNA says is true, they are telling themselves a lie. I actually believe they have the right to do that, as self-deceptive, and self-destroying as it may be. What they don’t have the right to do is force me to confirm their absurdity.
When they demand that I enter into their warped reality and by so doing, confirm their lie, they are asking me to do something my ethical commitment to the God of truth forbids. Further, what they are asking is for me to not only accept their self-deception, but to appreciate it, and champion it as a hallmark of societal maturity. This I refuse to do, both because to do so would be unethical, and because the abandonment of truth on the part of a nation never leads to a better, more ethical society.
So, shout and squeal all you want about the prevarications hitting our papers and screens daily. But let’s be real about the lies we have adopted, and move to clean out our own gutters first. A society that refuses to guard the truth and stand for the truth will soon become a society that has fallen for a lie.
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. “Ethically Speaking” runs Saturdays in The Signal.