The Bible and the Headlines
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By David Bachelor, PhD
The Greek philosopher Aeschylus wrote, “God is not averse to deceit in a just cause.” The god of Aeschylus is not the God of the Bible, but it is the god in this week’s headlines.
The January 6th edition of the New York Post carried the headline, “‘Punished’ Dad Legally Changes Gender to Female in Bid to Gain Custody of Kids.” This is a story from Ecuador that is making news around the world. Most news sources also lead with the picture of this father in traditional male clothing, and using his male birth name, showing his Ecuadorian passport which states GENDER: Female (GENERO: Femenino). This new “mom” changed his gender because Ecuadorian courts always grant child custody to mothers when parents divorce. The “mom” in this article merely wants to take care of “her” kids. Surely Aeschylus’ god would say this ruse is justified.
The next story hits a little closer to home. On Friday ABC affiliate KOCO5 in Oklahoma City had the headline, “Mother of Uvalde Shooting Suspect Released from Oklahoma County Detention Center.” The mother of Salvador Ramos was arrested for threatening her boyfriend in Oklahoma City. As seen in the headline and throughout the article, whenever this woman is named, it is followed by the phrase, “the mother of the Uvalde school shooting suspect.” The article never definitively states that the woman’s son was the May 24th shooter even though law enforcement officers killed him at the massacre sight (and Salvador was the only other person in classroom 111 with a gun). Maybe the reporter did not want to prejudice the potential jury if the mother’s case goes to trial. Aeschylus’ god would agree this is deceit in a just cause.
NBC.com did not parse the truth about Salvador Ramos with its Friday headline, “Mother of Uvalde School Shooter Arrested, Charged with Assault and Battery.” The article leaves no doubt about the family tendency to harm others. The peacock network showed less candor with its Jan 2 article about a different criminal. The NBC headline was, “First U.S. Execution of Openly Transgender Woman Set for Tuesday.” On January 6th, the network announced “Amber’s” completed execution in Missouri. The article stated that Amber’s crime was the murder of a former girlfriend with a steak knife. Also detailed was how Amber led the police to the body the day after the murder. NBC failed to mention that the murder victim was also raped. NBC used female pronouns throughout the inmate’s history, even the recounting of the murder, which made it seem like a woman committed the crime instead of a man. Only in a CBS article was it revealed that “Amber” never initiated any medical treatments to become a “woman” (though these had been available for years). In other words, the Ecuadorian “mom” and “Amber” had the same claim on their new gender. The NBC article had capital punishment in its sights, so perhaps Aeschylus’ god might see the article’s omissions as deceit for a just cause.
There is a narrative in the Bible where the people involved committed deception for a good cause. After the Israelites arrived in the Promised Land, they drove out the nations that lived there, in accordance with God’s instructions (Deut 20:16-17). Seeing the irresistible power of the Israelites, the Gibeonites used a ruse so the Israelites would let them stay on their land. The Gibeonites dressed in old, worn-out clothes and put dry, moldy bread in their saddle bags before they rode into the Israelite camp (Jos 9:4-6). The Gibeonites told the Israelites that they came from a faraway land seeking a peace treaty with the Israelites (Jos 9:6). Both nations agreed to the treaty. Eventually the truth came out and Joshua said to the Gibeonites, “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us?” (Jos 9:22). Joshua pronounced the penalty for their deceit, “You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God” (Jos 9:23). The God of Israel did not believe in deceit for any cause.
The Gibeonites received a life sentence for their lies. Salvador Ramos’ mom also will have a lifetime struggle with the truth. The Ecuadorian “mom” has at least an 18-year sentence before he can tell the truth without losing his children. The Missouri inmate permanently paid for other sins. Based on these examples we must conclude Aeschylus’ god leads to captivity. The good news is Jesus says, “I am the Truth, the Way and the Life” (John 14:6). Jesus also said, “The Truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).