Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ten Commandments (18) - False Testimony

Woops!! This is a re-write of post 16, because I have just realised that I got this commandment wrong.

The ninth commandment has an application in modern society, but it is not a law to be enforced across the entire community. The command is only relevant to the judicial process. It applies to judicial procedure and is not a general law.

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour (Ex 20:16).
Honesty and truth are essential for the working of the judicial system. Witnesses much not give false testimony, whether to protect themselves or to protect someone else. Judges must always follow the truth, no matter where it leads.

The Bible applies a reverse golden rule to those who give false evidence: having done to yourself what you were doing to others (Deut 19:16-19). The liar receives the penalty that they person they were lying about might have received.

So that actually leaves just two of the ten commandments as general laws to be enforced by the civil authorities in the modern world. I have corrected post 13 to reflect this change.

1 comment:

Steve Scott said...

I read it before you re-posted it, then read it again before I read (18). I thought I had lost 1/3 of my mind, so I'm glad you posted this. It's good that you correctly showed the limit to this command. It is judicial and forbids not bearing false witness, but false witness against our neighbor. Most Christians have been taught that this means never to tell a lie (or un-truth) in any situation whatsoever. Even though the midwives did to the Egyptians and Rahab did regarding the spies, and God blessed them greatly for their lies. Most people twist this to mean that even though they sinned greatly by lying, God nevertheless used their sin for something good.