SUNDAY, MARCH 2, 2014
KEEPING THE NINTH COMMANDMENT
Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour,’ Ex. 20v16.
THE just concluded Church of Nigeria Standing Committee Meeting held at St James Cathedral Ibadan from 17 to 22 February, 2014 deliberated on the theme: ‘Thou shall not bear false witness.’ The Primate of All Nigeria, Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit guided Bishops, Clergy and delegate through this theme and urged all to ensure that they are vehicles of truth and not falsehood wherever they find themselves.
I think no time is better than now to address this all-important ninth commandment of the Lord. For we live in an era whether in government or the religious circle, where most persons thrive in falsehood, which includes giving a wrong testimony about others (slander and libel), age falsification, certificate forgery and indulgence in the use of false scales in business transactions among others.
The Lord God is interested in dynamic human relationships and that is why through Moses, He said to His people Israel not to bear false witness against one another. For Him, if such is not checked, innocent people may suffer untold injury and more importantly, justice may be perverted. Neighbours are expected to live at peace with one another.
It is unfortunate that even among those who profess to be Christians, there are some that over-indulge in false witnessing. Some such people could be found in some law courts in Nigeria, where they go under oath and claim with the Bible in one hand to give nothing but the truth. Yet, at the end of their testimony, they end up contradicting themselves by being agents of falsehood and false witnessing.
It is not surprising that the Lord Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Owo, Rt Rev. Joseph Oladunjoye was irked while preaching in the opening Holy Communion service at the just concluded Church of Nigeria Standing Committee meeting held at Saint James Cathedral Ibadan recommended that judges of the Nigerian courts should be bold enough not only to prosecute liars or false witnesses but to execute them if found culpable.
The above stand by Bishop Oladunjoye may seem harsh but if we consider the damage done by false witnessing, we may be tempted to agree with him.
However, the scripture made it abundantly clear that God the creator hates false witnessing and the prophet Zechariah captured it thus: ‘…this is what you must do: tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord,’ Zechariah 8v16-17.
James the elder would wish to counsel believers thus: ‘for in many things we all stumble. If any stumbleth not in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also. Now if we put the horses’ bridles into their mouths that they may obey us, we turn about their whole body also…But the tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison,’ James 3v2ff.Ven. Ernest Onuoha Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.