Lying so we can win the debate.

Christians lie.

No we’re not supposed to. There’s a whole teaching about this. (It’s actually not the “don’t bear false witness” command, Ex 20.16 which has to do with perjury. It’s the one about how Christians need to be rid of lying, and tell the truth to one another. Ep 4.25) But we lie just the same. Usually to get out of trouble. Sometimes to defraud.

And sometimes when we debate with non-Christians, and wanna score points, we borrow a rather common tactic we see in politics: We ignore whether our “facts” are all that factual.

Oh, we wish they were factual, ’cause they really help our case. We’ll psyche ourselves into believing they’re factual. We’re willing to dismiss any evidence which says otherwise. We’re totally willing to perpetuate fraud.

Yeah, it’s fraud. There’s a command against that too. Mk 10.19

But Christians dismiss this particular sin, ’cause we figure it’s so important to win these arguments, score victories for Jesus… and really stick it to those skeptics. Ends justify means. Doesn’t matter that we’re wrong, that we lie, that we’re not 100 percent sure about the “facts” we point to. The goal was to win.

Yeah, this rationale doesn’t fly with God. He’s light. He doesn’t do darkness. 1Jn 1.5 If we adopt darkness, and claim we’re doing it on God’s behalf, we’re really not; it’s done for our victories, not his. And we aren’t following him either. 1Jn 1.6

Whenever we sway non-Christians with non-facts, we’ve not really led them to Jesus. We’ve led them to Christianism. It’s built on lies, remember?—and God’s kingdom is built on truth. We’ve led them into some dark variant of Christianity we’ve invented instead, which we like better—and hopefully God will be merciful to these poor souls and pull them out of our darkness. But there’s no guarantee that’ll happen; ask any cult member.

Pre-screen your “truths.”

I walk a lot. When I walk down the street, sometimes people who are driving by recognize me, and honk at me. (As if I’m able to see through the windscreen glare and recognize them as they zip past at 40 miles an hour.) When I first started walking, any time I heard a horn blast in my direction, my instinctive reaction wasn’t, “Somebody’s saying hello,” but “What the [expletive deleted] is their problem?” It wasn’t to wave back. Maybe give ’em the finger though.

Yeah, it’s hardly devout Christian behavior. (Irreligious Christians don’t care, but that’s not me.) I didn’t even realize this negative reaction still existed in me. Had to unlearn it and be rid of it.

I say this to point out a basic fact: Every Christian’s brain is full of facts, evidence, beliefs, and theology. Some brilliant… and some utter rubbish. When you’re in a situation where you gotta think fast, you‘re gonna react on instinct. Whatever’s in you, is gonna come out of you. So… will it be good, or garbage?

Soldiers learn to fight by replacing all their bad instincts—flinching and ducking and hiding when and where they shouldn’t, or punching where and when they shouldn’t—with useful techniques that they practice so often, they become their new instincts. And Christians need to learn to defend our beliefs by replacing all our pre-Christian, unethical tactics of argument, with righteous behavior and solid facts. Get rid of all your flawed data and never touch it again. Don’t invent new “facts” on the fly. Don’t cheat. It’s no longer an option.

Test your beliefs. Test ’em thoroughly. Test them like God tests them: With fire. Be harsh and unyielding. Be willing to burn ’em up if they can’t withstand scrutiny. Don’t cling to them; you’ll turn them into idols.

Christians are notorious for passing along clever sayings solely because they sound good. We never bother to ask, “But is this true?” We never double-check it against the scriptures. We just pass it along. If it pleases us, makes us feel good, makes us feel righteous, makes us sound victorious, we’ll tweet them and email them and make T-shirts of them. We’ll even base our relationships with Jesus on them.

Likewise if it outrages us. I’ve seen so many Christians gullibly pass along the most ridiculous frauds, all because we felt it was their duty to warn all our friends lest somebody get away with evil. Some business is supposedly anti-Christian, so warn your friends and boycott them. Some celebrity is supposedly anti-Christian, so shun them and get your friends to do likewise. The government is out to get us Christians, so write your congressman and start stockpiling gold and rifles.

I irritate my Christian friends on a regular basis by doing a little basic investigating. A little Snopes, a little Google, and I can find out they’re hogwash. Then I remind the rumor-mongers: As Christians, our commitment is to truth. Now that you know the truth, what’re you gonna do about it? For a lot of them, they get pretend nothing ever happened, and some of ’em even get angry at me for spoiling their fun.

Well their “fun” needs to be spoiled: They’re deceiving themselves. They’re not thinking, not testing for truth, not asking questions. Just reacting in pleasure or fear, and going with their guts instead of following Jesus.

Everything needs to be tested. And show no mercy in your testing. Because skeptics show no mercy. They test our beliefs just as harshly. And if they find we ever lied to them, it’ll be a long, long time before they ever trust another Christian. We may as well shoot them in the face and send ’em to hell. That’s how much hope we’ve torn from them.

So lying is never a valid option in Christian apologetics. Or, really, in anything. Jesus is truth. Jn 14.6 If you can’t stick to truth you’re not sticking to Jesus. So test everything for truth. Toss out the junk. Hold onto what’s good.

Christian apologetics.