The Optimistic Christian
Accusations: The Voice of Malice
How about the accusations made in the blogosphere that Obama has been deceptive about his religion, or the tabloid gossip suggesting that his marriage is falling apart? Are we giving our minds over to that stuff, or are we rejecting those thoughts on principle? Someone else will be asked at the Last Judgment about his or her role in launching these tales. But for the health of our own minds, it is no better to entertain accusations that the President has pretended to be a Christian while actually being a Muslim than it is to accept accusations that Mitt Romney, because he is a successful businessman, caused a woman's death.
What if some of the accusations made against other people are true? It's one thing when we're talking about crimes and the justice system. Credible accusations about crimes ought to be given due process of law. But when the accusations are crafted to be persuasive but basically non-actionable—the point is to persuade people that they know something bad about the subject, to get evil thoughts into people's minds—I submit that we are still right to refuse, on principle, to form a bad judgment on those terms.
Some tales can be parsed and rejected because the world doesn't work that way (e.g., the contrived accusation against Romney); other tales may not be parsable in that manner, but should still be rejected because it does us no good to accept them as part of the narrative in our minds. I've found it to be consistently true that I don't need to consider accusatory tales about others in order to make good decisions. There is no positive purpose for an accusatory mode of thought or communication.
This shouldn't surprise us. In the Bible, Satan is called both "the adversary" (Job 1:6-8) of men and our "accuser" (Rev. 12:10). Accusing people as a way of life is evil, period. This makes sense if we remember that God is a God of grace and mercy. He knows everything we do; He of all beings could accuse us up one side and down the other. But He doesn't. The great truth in His universe is not that we sin, but that there is forgiveness and redemption. I increasingly believe that the living generations of our time are appointed to truly "get" that: to internalize and live by the positive, enlarging, expansive power of grace, the power that lifts us above the petty trap of accusation and leaves it in the dust.
Jesus is called our "advocate" (1 Jn. 2:1), the defense attorney who speaks on our behalf. He has already defeated the accuser (Jn. 16:33). We have no excuse for living in an accusatory mode or letting accusatory thoughts rule our minds. We are wise to let God be the keeper of all truth, and to concentrate on the truths He has given us, rather than obsessing like terriers at a rat-hole over truths about others that it's not our job to keep.
We know, after all, what we are supposed to set our minds on: "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable," and anything "excellent or praiseworthy" (Phil. 4:8, NIV). These things will endure to the end. There is no two-way street between good and evil: only one will stand. Somehow, I think that at the Last Judgment, if we have good to say about others, if we want to speak of things that are admirable and noble and praiseworthy about them—to those communications, I suspect the God of creation will give an ear.
J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval intelligence officer and evangelical Christian. She retired in 2004 and blogs from the Inland Empire of southern California. She writes for Commentary's CONTENTIONS blog, Hot Air's Green Room, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.