By Charles Gardner —
The Islamic doctrine of taqiyya is back in the news. It has reportedly been used by Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to describe the regime’s decision to accept the 2015 nuclear deal with the West¹.
Taqiyya is basically a theological concept that permits lying if it furthers the Muslim cause. It is something that is frequently overlooked by Westerners in their dealings with Muslims. It has also been used as an excuse for deceptive negotiations in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It is effectively about saying one thing and meaning another, a recipe for certain breakdown in communication and trust.
The 2015 agreement, made in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, was designed to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program would be exclusively peaceful. Not surprisingly, Israel has been highly skeptical of the intentions of a regime which has repeatedly threatened to wipe the Jewish state off the map.
But God has clearly commanded us not to give false witness against our neighbor (Exodus 20:16) and lying is not restricted to the fanatical ayatollahs. It has, tragically, become part of the culture of what used to be called Western civilization, originally built on the principles of the Ten Commandments.
That is why lying to Parliament and perjury in court are still considered (in Britain at least) as such heinous crimes. It is why court witnesses have for centuries had to swear an oath on the Bible ‘to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’.
But without recognizing that we are addressing the God of heaven and earth, it is a meaningless promise – especially in an age where truth is widely regarded as relative, with each of us having our own version, which simply leaves an open field for lies and propaganda.
So it is hardly surprising that undermining our biblical foundations leads to the collapse of a stable society, where some are even unsure of their gender. The very floor of the British Parliament is inscribed in Latin with the words of Psalm 127: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.”
Its foundations have in recent years shown signs of literally crumbling as law after ungodly law is passed.
Witness also Amnesty International’s latest denunciation of Israel as an apartheid state engaged in a war crime “replete with hyperbole, distortions and outright lies,” according to Rachel O’Donoghue of Honest Reporting.
As for the BBC, who carried Amnesty’s statement as gospel truth, journalist Melanie Phillips had this to say: “It [the BBC] fails to report most attacks on Israelis while, at the same time, unforgivably presenting Israeli military actions to stop these attacks as if Israel were the aggressor and the Palestinians its hapless victims.”²
It was less than 100 years ago that the BBC founders committed themselves to promoting everything that is true, right, pure and lovely – in the words of St Paul’s letter to the Philippians (4:8) – but they have since exchanged such noble aspirations for profanity, debauchery and downright lies.
The Book of Proverbs addresses this issue squarely, citing worthless and wicked people who “are constant liars” forever stirring up trouble. “But they will be destroyed suddenly, broken beyond all hope of healing. There are six things the Lord hates – no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:12-19)
Jesus referred to the devil as the “father of lies, a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language…” (John 8:44)
The serpent, at the beginning of time, planted doubt in the heart of man with the question, “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1)
Jesus, however, embodies the truth, and those who follow him will know the truth, and the truth will set them free. They will challenge our lying culture as, by God’s grace, I was able to do over exaggerated expense claims in the newspaper industry many years ago. It had not been my intention, but my genuine though comparatively measly claims showed up my colleagues for their dishonesty.
This might seem small fry by comparison with dodgy international diplomacy, but the principle is the same. Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels famously boasted: “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”
This is well known to many, but worth repeating to a generation so easily taken in by left-wing lies about Israel having stolen land from the Palestinians. It was a pack of lies that sent six million Jews to their brutal deaths in the concentration camps, and the same poisonous format is now being targeted at a new generation of God’s chosen people.
“It was never meant to go that far,” a sexual assault defendant (a girl who disguised herself as a boy) admitted in a note to her victim in a recent case reported by the Daily Mail³. “…It was just lie after lie; I couldn’t see a way out.”
Or as Walter Scott poetically put it: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when at first we set out to deceive.”
But in accusing others of lying, as has happened in the British Parliament of late, we must beware of the trap of hypocrisy which avoids examining our own hearts and motives. For the Lord desires “truth in the inner parts” (Psalm 51:6).
And if you wish to live this way, seek the One who said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
His name is Jesus (Yeshua), “for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
¹ Gatestone Institute, June 9, 2023
² Melanie Phillips, June 18, 2023
³ Daily Mail, June 17, 2023