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The Sin of Silence

Feb 19, 2018 / By: Michael Spielman
Category: Christian Living

According to King Solomon, there are seven things that God abominates. He lists them for us in the sixth chapter of Proverbs. Without looking, how many can you name? If you come up short, here’s the full list as rendered in the ESV (Proverbs 6:16-19):

  • Haughty eyes
  • A lying tongue
  • Hands that shed innocent blood
  • A heart that devises wicked plans
  • Feet that make haste to run to evil
  • A false witness who breathes out lies
  • One who sows discord among brothers

The first five abominations connect to a specific part of the body—eyes, tongue, hands, heart, and feet. In fact, the body parts themselves are the objects of God’s hatred, until we get to item six—the false witness, who breathes out lies. 

Essentially, Solomon put lying on the list twice—but why? Why emphasize the fact that God hates both lies and liars? Why make special mention of false witnesses (and sowers of discord) but leave thieves, murderers, and adulterers off the list? Both structurally and conceptually, it’s a bit perplexing.

Of course, there is a sense in which the intentionally false witness demonstrates all five of the abominations that Solomon opens with. After all, the false witness is arrogant, believing him or herself to be above the law. The false witness, in perpetrating a lie, has both devised and executed an evil plan. And if their false testimony leads to the execution of an innocent person, or the release of a murderer, then the false witness is culpable for the shedding of innocent blood.

Whatever Solomon’s intentions may have been, the takeaway is the same. Bearing false witness—which is also condemned in the Ten Commandments—is something God abhors. Perhaps this is because the bearing of false witness is what allows so many “bigger” sins to propagate. The state cannot adequately restrain thieves and murderers if it lacks a populace who will testify truly.

But what does it mean to “testify truly?” How far does our obligation go? Are we merely prohibited from lying on the witness stand? According to the law of Moses, it actually requires much more than that. For those who know the truth, not only are they prohibited from lying, they are also obligated to testify. Here is the directive as laid out in the first verse of Leviticus chapter five:

If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity. (Leviticus 5:1)

Whether they are a first or secondhand witness, anyone with knowledge of a particular crime who fails to testify is guilty of being a false witness. Remaining silent, apparently, is not a God-ordained option. Though the immediate context of Leviticus 5 is an official public inquiry, I believe the principle itself has more far-reaching implications.

If you’re like me, the first abomination you thought of when asked to name them at the outset was “hands that shed innocent blood.” Of everything on the list, it is the most salient—and gruesome. Here again, if you’re like me, when you think about the shedding of innocent blood, you think about abortion. In the gamut of “innocent blood,” unborn children are surpassed only by Christ himself.  

With regard to abortion, I would argue that there are a number of ways to be a false witness. The most obvious of course involves the propagation of lies, as practiced by the abortion industry and so many of its supporters. These lies, however, would be wholly ineffectual if those who oppose abortion were more willing to testify against them. Unfortunately, many of us misunderstand what it means to be a false witness. We think that so long as we don’t speak lies, we’re in the clear, not realizing that by all appearances, God’s expectations go much further.

When someone knows the truth but doesn’t speak, their omission is a false testimony unto itself. Witnesses to injustice have a moral obligation to testify. For many who oppose abortion today, I suspect that if a public summons was issued to come forth and testify, they would answer the call. They would take the stand and rightly condemn abortion. The problem is, a formal summons isn’t coming—and yet abortion continues to shed the blood of innocent unborn children, thousands of times a day.

When those who know the truth are not invited to testify, we must find another way. We must find a way to creatively and credibly proclaim that abortion is an act of violence that kills an innocent human being. We must point out that the law has an obligation to protect the innocent and vulnerable. We must expose the lie that abortion is a constitutionally-protected right of privacy. We must demonstrate that our bodily rights do not include a right to harm or injure the body of another. Abortion, after all, is a grievous public sin with massive social implications. And so is being silent.

Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.

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