Should Falsehood and Corruption Be Exposed?
THE line between right and wrong has become so indistinct to many persons that it is almost imperceptible. Policemen take payoffs for overlooking traffic violations; citizens pad expenses on income-tax returns; married persons are unfaithful to their mates and youths cheat on school examinations. Once almost everyone would have viewed such behavior as shocking, obviously wrong and deserving of censure. But now, while not being fully approved, it is generally accepted as natural—the way of life. “They all do it,” people are frequently heard to say.
What is more, it is considered uncharitable and unkind to expose the lie or publicize the wrong of another. People feel that it may not be the best policy to deceive and be untruthful, but to make known deception and uncover falsehood is regarded as being even worse. To do so often opens one to greater censure than is received by the person who commits the wrong.
This apathetic acceptance of corruption and falsehood is also noted in religious matters, especially now when ecumenical efforts are seeking to unite the many different religions. The teachings and practices of a religious organization may admittedly be false, misrepresenting true Christianity, yet to expose them as such is viewed as unchristian. You, no doubt, have noted this to be so.
Well, then, how do you feel about the matter? What if someone spoke out publicly against certain religious leaders, saying to them: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. . . . When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.” Would you think such language unbecoming to a Christian? Even though it were true, would you consider it wrong to undermine the reputation of respected religious leaders in that way?
What if a person used even stronger condemnatory language, saying: “Woe to you, theologians and clergymen, hypocrites! because you shut up the kingdom of the heavens before men; for you yourselves do not go in, neither do you permit those on their way in to go in. . . . Fools and blind ones! . . . Woe to you, theologians and clergymen, hypocrites! because you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of every sort of uncleanness. In that way you also, outwardly indeed, appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. . . . Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment?”
Would such language immediately cause you to label the speaker an intolerant bigot? Many people may consider such speech entirely improper and unchristian. Yet these are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, spoken to the respected religious leaders of his day! The only change in this direct quotation from the Bible is the substitution of the terms “theologians and clergymen” for “scribes and Pharisees.” And this is most appropriate, for those men were the clergy of the first century among the Jews, even wearing distinctive garb to draw attention to their office, as many clergymen do today.—See John 8:44 and Matthew 23:1-36.
But why did Jesus speak in this way about those men? It was because they had misrepresented God and his teachings. Their false religious traditions and practices had misdirected people from the pathway of righteousness that leads to the kingdom of God. On an earlier occasion Jesus had said to certain religious leaders:
“You have made the word of God invalid because of your tradition. You hypocrites, Isaiah aptly prophesied about you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach commands of men as doctrines.’” And so Jesus said to his disciples: “Let them be. Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”—Matt. 15:6-14.
So, then, when religious leaders and organizations of Christendom misrepresent God’s Word by teaching traditions of men, is it wrong to expose their false doctrines? When they claim to be following Christ and yet mix in worldly politics, is it a bad thing to publicize that their actions are unchristian and condemned by God? Should the truth be suppressed because it exposes falsehood and corruption? Never! Jesus never hesitated to speak the truth, even though he was killed at the instigation of the angered religious leaders for doing so.—John 17:14; Jas. 4:4.
Therefore, how will you respond when pointed statements are made about false religious teachings and corrupt practices? Will you immediately condemn the person or organization making the exposé? Do you feel it is all right to teach lies and misrepresent God’s Word, but wrong to expose the error? Contrary to what some may think, it is not unkind and unloving to lay bare falsehood and corruption.
Remember the example of Jesus Christ. He was the most loving and kind person to walk the earth. He was tender and compassionate, even with sinful harlots and tax collectors. Lovingly he forgave them their transgressions and helped them on the way to life. Rather than advertise their sins, he covered them over. Yet, at the same time, in some of the strongest language recorded in the Bible, Jesus exposed the stubborn, haughty religious leaders. This was really a loving service, for the false teachings and practices of those religionists were leading their followers to the pit of destruction. The people needed to know the truth if they were to gain God’s approval.—Matt. 23:15.
Therefore, it is right and proper to speak out strongly against falsehood and corruption. A person or organization that, in imitation of Jesus Christ, has the courage to do so deserves attention and respect.