Welcome back again! Today, I’ll be expounding on the Ninth Commandment. I promise, we’re almost there. This one is traditionally worded as, “neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor”, and comes from Exodus 20:16 and Deuteronomy 5:20. The BCP updates like this, “to speak the truth and not mislead others by our silence.” Another nice, short one. Even the BCP doesn’t drag it out.
This time, I feel the BCP is merely updating the language and not trying to expand upon it. I like the expansions, but they do tend to be a bit wordy. Also, the bit about honesty and justice in our dealings from the Eighth Commandment feels like it should be here.
The Ninth Commandment is as important now as it was 3000 years ago. It’s talking about trust and not breaking it. Way back when, contracts were almost all verbal, so it was rather important to be able to trust the people you were dealing with. Plus, trust was, and is, needed to keep people working together. Many cultures held variations of this commandment as their primary law. Breaking it would lead to death, ostracism, or banishment. You could be declared to be a non-person; it was taken that seriously. This is the don’t lie one, and not simply because lying is bad. If you’re not trustworthy, no one will listen to you or be willing to deal with you. And, it makes others’ lives worse as well. The merchant may have needed that money to feed her own family.
The BCP really does a great job with updating this commandment. It clarifies the intent without adding bulk. Lies of omission are still lies and must be avoided. Does this mean you can’t lie to the Nazis about where you hid the Jews? I think God would be willing to overlook cases like that. You are saving the lives of others and treating people well was considered to be very important, and still should be.