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A Reformed Fellowship

A lie is a lie is a lie

In its May 18 issue, the New York Times reported that Richard Blumenthal, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, made a bogus claim about his prior military service.

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

As is now widely known, Mr. Blumenthal never served in Vietnam, received several deferments to avoid the draft, and was able to get into the Marine Reserves in 1970 when his last deferment appeared to be in jeopardy. Confronted with the fact that his speech was betrayed by his record, Mr. Blumenthal responded like a politician.

“On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that and I take full responsibility,” Mr. Blumenthal said at a packed news conference at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in West Hartford. “But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

The bottom line is that Mr. Blumenthal has been put on public display as a liar, and he continues to lie. He claims to “take full responsibility” but characterizes his statements about service in Vietnam as “a few misplaced words.” And he says defiantly, “I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

Mr. Blumenthal encapsulates the fallen condition of humans. He is a sinner but fails fully to acknowledge he is a sinner. He makes mistakes, in his view, but does not intentionally lie. Yet there is no way around it—when what a person claims is contradicted by what he has done, he has lied. Taking full responsibility would be to admit the lie, repenting of it and seeking forgiveness.

This is a lesson in truth-telling for all of us, and the Bible warns us of eternal, not merely temporal, consequences of being a liar:

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8 [ESV]).

And the Bible shows us that Christ alone is the hope for repentant sinners:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11 [ESV]).