Ontario Logoblog

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

You need some protection

In an Ontario Empoblog post about Orson Bean, John Henry Faulk, and the McCarthy-era blacklists, I wrote the following:


[O]ne can claim that it's dishonest to cover up past associations...in fact, cover-ups are Nixonian, aren't they? On the other other hand, one can claim that it's OK to mislead when threatened. Or is it?


Which brings us to this little story in Genesis:


Genesis 12:10-20 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you."

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh's officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.

17 But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram's wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. "What have you done to me?" he said. "Why didn't you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!" 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.



So, of course, wouldn't Abraham have learned from this episode? Actually, he didn't - he pulled the same trick in Genesis 20.

But Abraham has a excuse for potentially Nixonian behavior, since he is a sinful man. But let's take a look at another episode, this one from Mark's Gospel:


Mark 3:10-12 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


10For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11Whenever the evil[a] spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." 12But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.

Footnotes:

Mark 3:11 Greek unclean; also in verse 30



So one can claim that Jesus participated in suppression of the truth, by preventing (at least in the Jewish areas - see John 4:25-26 for a non-Jewish exception) any mention of His being the Son of God.

"Ah," you say, "but He had a reason...His time had not yet come." But how does one distinguish between a valid reason, and an invalid reason?

Using a secular example, is John Henry Faulk's failure to mention his participation in left-wing activities justified by the threat that McCarthyism had upon any accused person? (Or, turning the secular political tables around, what if someone covered up his or her participation in right-wing activities?)

Perhaps the Abraham incidents suggest an answer. Abraham's deception could have caused Pharaoh and Abimelech to commit sin, while Jesus' deception would not have caused anyone to commit sin (in His case, the revelation of his Sonship caused various people to be guilty of murder).

Perhaps others may have ideas on when someone is justified in revealing only part of the truth.

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