You Shall Not Bear False Witness against Your Neighbor

I’ve been meaning to write this one for a long time. I’ll keep it short and to the point. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

For those of you who don’t recognize those words, they are the text of the ninth commandment from Exodus 20, verse 16. I’m using the English Standard Version here, but that doesn’t change the meaning at all.

There are a few “discernment blogs” that I suspect of violating this commandment. I’m not naming names here, because I am not certain, yet, about the charge. I do know that some of them make misleading statements, or merely quote themselves as sources when they speak out against some in the church. Whether what they’re saying is slanderous, I don’t know – so I’m not going to make the charge.

On the other hand, I have been bothered, a lot, by an expression that is all too common on some blogs regarding the pro-abortion left. That is to call them “Molech worshipers.”

I understand the use of hyperbole. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that there’s a significant difference between being pro-abortion and worshiping Molech.

Yes, abortion is a sin and a violation of the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13) There is no way around the fact that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life – for whatever reason. Because of this I am anti-abortion, and always will be, whatever the reasons given for it.

But that is not the same as worshiping Molech. Worshiping Molech involved the sacrifice of children to the false god Molech through a ritual sacrifice involving passing the child through the fire. It was a violation of the first and the second commandment (Exodus 20:2-6). Worship is a conscious act, undertaken deliberately. To worship a false god still requires that you knowingly give honor and glory to that false god. It is volitional.

Abortions are undertaken for convenience, as a consequence of sexual immorality, or for any number of reasons. Some are undertaken for eugenics. Some are undertaken to prevent “harm to the mother.” But most are likely undertaken because to bring the baby to term would somehow inconvenience the mother. None of these reasons excuses the intentional taking of innocent human life. And none of them are an act of worship.

It is slanderous to verbally accuse someone of a sin they are not committing. It is libelous to do so in print. It is no less than bearing false witness against your neighbor. Christians should not do it. Especially when we remember that the punishment in the old testament for idolatry was stoning (Leviticus 20:1-5), and that the punishment for someone who bore false witness was the same as the punishment that they sought for their neighbor when they bore false witness (Deuteronomy 19:18-19).

Let’s stop calling the pro-abortion people “Molech worshipers.” Unless we actually see them bowing down to Molech and passing their children through the fire.

5 comments

  1. I understand and agree in principle with your post, Perri, but do note:

    “Abortions are undertaken for convenience, as a consequence of sexual immorality, or for any number of reasons. Some are undertaken for eugenics. Some are undertaken to prevent “harm to the mother.” But most are likely undertaken because to bring the baby to term would somehow inconvenience the mother.”

    What or who is the object of worship here? I would submit that it is self-worship, the elevation of one’s own pleasure, comfort, and ego to the position of being one’s own god.

    I am serious about that. Those who worship at the altar of Self are idolaters. Perhaps they do not embrace the formal worship of a pagan god, but that makes their self-idolatry no less a sin of idolatry.

    As for slandering such persons by calling them worshipers of Moloch, I quite agree. One should make one’s charges accurate and truthful. After all, “Satan” (and “devil”) do not carry the primary meaning of “slanderer, traducer, false accuser” for nothing, and those who embrace slander are rightly noted as children of the father of lies.

  2. Yes, my focus was primarily on the need to be accurate and truthful in what we say. So often I see people post things that just seem to go a bit overboard on the hyperbole. I find it can be a distraction from the message we want to share, and can discredit what we say to our opponents.

    As for self worship, you’re absolutely right. Just about all sin comes down to that in the end, doesn’t it.

  3. It is hyperbole. Not much doubt about that. But it is a way of expressing one’s opposition in a way that should shake the conscience of the abortion proponent. I doubt very much it does for most of them, but that only highlights the reason why it’s employed in the first place. Whatever can be done to underscore the serious evil abortion is, including the hyperbolic, might be worthy of risking a charge of “slander” or “bearing false witness”.

    1. But, as Christians we are called to be truthful. Remember what Jesus had to say about false witness and slander…

      For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. (Matt. 15:19,20a)

      Or what Paul had to say…

      Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Col 3:5-8)

      Or Peter…

      So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. (1 Pet 2:1)

      God’s wrath comes upon us just as much for lying as it does for abortion.

      But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. (Rev 21:8)

      We are called to govern our tongues, to speak the truth in love. When a man lies he doesn’t have the truth in him. We can and should do better. Why should we stretch the truth? It will only give them an opportunity to slander us, or indeed to call out our own hypocrisy. Better to call abortion what it is, the deliberate murder of an innocent human being than to call it Molech worship.

      As for whether calling a woman who has an abortion a Molech worshipper or calling an abortionist one will shake their conscience, I doubt it will. First they’re unlikely to understand the reference, and second, it’s likely that their conscience is seared and that they are more concerned with self than God anyway. As David rightly noted, they may not be worshipping at the altar of Molech, but they are at the altar of self.

      1. False gods either way, right? I still maintain it’s an apt analogy with that in mind. I stand ready to clarify should they balk at such a description, but to grab their attention by saying such things is, as you imply, dependent upon just how seared their consciences are. To the worst, it doesn’t matter what is said. To those not entirely given over to their sin, there may be enough conscience that they may cower at the thought of being so compared. I don’t know about others, but my purpose in the use of hyperbole is just that…to grab their attention with the hope that there’s enough sense there to consider how I explain my use of whatever term I feel is needed to do so. The intention isn’t to say that which isn’t true, and it’s not a case of speaking thoughtlessly. The intention is to shake them and instill in them the fact that they are dangerously wrong.

        And by the way, they don’t buy the truth that they’re murdering innocents, so saying so has no effect. I’m not concerned about their feelings so long as their feelings don’t include guilt and remorse at their disregard for human life. I hope to get them to feel those things.

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