Why is the question of “truth” taken here? Respecting the honor and good name of others in our everyday speech is an essential way of “loving our neighbor.” We do this especially in giving public witness.
thoughts , insofar as they correspond to reality, and therefore are not erroneous;
words , when we say what we think and are not lying; and finally
actions , when we do what we say and are not hypocrites who say one thing and do another .
How important is “truth” for Christian nmoral life? In our age of “credibility gaps,” we realize the importance of truth simply to enable us to live and work together in the family and community, and to grow into the integrity we are called to as disciples of Christ. In his encyclical “Splendor of the Truth,” John Paul II has rested the whole of Christian morality firmly on truth.
How does the Eight Commandment foster truth, justice and love? “ You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” prohibits destructive perversions of the truth that damage the life of the covenant community. Like all the others, the Eight Commandment must be understood in the context of the Covenant. It thus touches the truth involved in the human interpersonal relationships of justice and love that ground the community’s life.
What is the specifically Christian view of this “truth”?
The covenant community is built up by the truth that is:
grounded in God the Father, the Source of all truth;
fully revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Truth come to set us free; and
indwelling in us in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.
In the Old Testament, false witnesses were punished severely. The Prophets denounced the whole people’s false witness in their infidelity to Yahweh.
In the New Testament, Christ is both
Lord of the Eight Commandment as “the Truth” in himself, and
man of the Commandments as always being perfectly honest, truthful, and open with everyone he encountered.
How is truth “liberating”? Christ as the Truth liberates by freeing us from ignorance, lying and hypocrisy. He taught and prayed for his disciples that they be open and true in their thoughts, words and deeds.
What is meant by the “social dimension” of truth? Truth’s intrinsic social dimensions flows from the very nature of human persons who need truth simply to exist and grow as persons and members of the human community. Without truthful personal and interpersonal and societal relationships, human persons wither and die.
How do we sin against the truth? We sin against truth commonly by the many forms of lying, as well as by tale-bearing, gossip, rash judgments, prejudices, detraction, slander, and perjury.
In good practice, there are all kinds of motives and situations that lead us into telling lies:
desire to impress others through exaggerations;
fear of others, or saving face before others;
More serious are lies that are told:
from malice, in order to harm others;
from greed, in order to deceive and gain the upper hand;
from hypocritical motives;
as false witness or perjury in courts and justice.
How should we foster truth in community? St. Paul urges us to “profess the truth in love.” This demands a certain maturity and discernment. For we can offend against genuine truth when we use it to harm others. When, for example, we publicly proclaim to those who do not need to know, harmful “brute facts” about someone. Before proclaiming any “truth” we should ask three questions: “ Is it true?” “ Is it necessary?” W “ Is it kind?”
What is meant by “Christian witness to truth”? In speaking the truth about our neighbor, we inescapably bear witness to Jesus Christ who has identified himself with our neighbor. Christ himself has become dependent upon the witness of others, first, by his chosen Twelve, then down through the ages by his disciples. We Filipinos today are called to offer witness to Christ our Truth, through the power of the Holy Spirit sent to us.