This morning while on my way back from taking my kids to school, I turned on NPR and heard a brief interview with Cokie Roberts and The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway. The two were asked to comment on Hillary Clinton's health and comments she made over the weekend. Hemingway pointed out the different stories the public has been given over the past days and weeks about Clinton's health, and Roberts chimed in to agree, saying something close to, "Mollie is right. They keep doing this," referring to the Clinton campaign's seeming inability to come out and tell the truth--whether about her health, her email server, or other issues.
I had a Facebook exchange with someone last week about The Washington Post editorial board's piece on how the public's reaction to the Clinton email issue is, in their words, "out of control." The Post downplayed her wrongdoing in an effort to compare her to Trump, stating, "Imagine how history would judge today’s Americans if, looking back at this election, the record showed that voters empowered a dangerous man because of . . . a minor email scandal."
The question I raised with this friend on Facebook echoes Cokie Roberts' statement from above--Why do they keep doing this? Who is advising Clinton to lie about these issues? Like her husband before her, she seems incapable of coming clean and fully admitting wrongdoing. But the damage control becomes damage itself, and the lies stack up to the point that she loses credibility.
In Robinson Crusoe, author Daniel Defoe’s title character says he thought about returning home and repenting of his sin many times, but that shame stopped him. He was afraid of being laughed at, and seeing those he had sinned against and hurt. And then he says he later often observed that it is irrational that people “are not ashamed to sin, and yet are ashamed to repent; not ashamed of the action for which they ought justly to be esteemed fools, but are shamed of the returning, which only can make them be esteemed wise men.”
Unfortunately neither major candidate has a great track record of admitting wrong and speaking truth. Donald Trump has flipflopped so many times that it's hard to believe much of what he says.
I was reminded this morning of a blog post my dad wrote back in July, lamenting the lack of truth in this election, and encouraging the church to step into this space and be an example of what we see as lacking:
As in other areas, the church should be a thriving counter-culture in a dying culture. While the reigning culture denigrates truth, the church is to honor, guard and promote truth. No matter the loss of truth in the country, truth must rule in the community of Christ. We have the truth -- centered in God's revelation of Himself in His written Word (John 17:17) and His living Word (John 14:6). We are to live like those who belong to the Truth and are controlled by the Truth.
When our kids get in trouble, we teach them not to make excuses, but instead to come out with the whole truth. They tend to get in far less trouble when they are forthcoming and repentant. I easily forget how difficult this is until I, too, find myself in a situation where I need to confess something. I want so badly to blame someone or something else. I want to minimize my sin. But I've seen firsthand the damage of coming only partway clean--of confessing just enough to satisfy people, but not enough to recognize the work of Christ on the cross. If we believe He suffered and died for our sins, should we not run to the cross to have those burdens lifted and to recognize His grace?
This is a way the church can be different. In a climate in which dishonesty is treated as no big deal and covering wrongdoing is ignored, we can be a people who, like David in Psalm 51, confess that our sin is against God, plead for His mercy and forgiveness, and find at the cross the restoration of true joy.