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 antichrists, 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 it’s false knowledge. 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 we’re not 100 percent sure about the “facts” we point to, or straight-up that we’re wrong and lying and fraudulent and evil. The goal was to win.

Yeah, this rationale doesn’t fly with God. He’s light, and 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. We stopped following him. 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.

Gotta pre-screen our “truths.”

I walk a lot. When I walk down the street, sometimes people recognize me as they drive by, and honk at me. (As if I’m able to see through the windscreen glare and recognize them as they zip past me at 50 miles an hour in a 40-mph zone.) 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 very often, they become 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. Politicians may do that, and will. But for Christians 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 our duty to warn all our friends lest evil prevail. Some business is supposedly anti-Christian, so warn your friends and boycott them. Some celebrity is supposedly an antichrist, so shun them and get your friends to do likewise. The government is plotting to round up the Christians and put us in the guillotine, so write your congressman and start stockpiling food, 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 all their memes and forwards are bunk. Then I remind the rumor-mongers: As Christians, our commitment is to truth. Are you gonna listen to the truth, or are you gonna close your ears and keep spreading lies? For most of them, they close their ears. And get angry at me for spoiling their fun.

But their “fun” needs to be spoiled: They’re deceiving themselves, and others. They’re not thinking, not testing for truth, not asking questions. Just reacting in pleasure or fear, and going with their gut 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. Whenever they find we spread a falsehood, they jump all over it. For some of ’em, 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.