Written on the 12th February 1974, the same day he was arrested by the secret police and sent into exile, “Live not by lies,” was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s call to speak the truth always and at all times, without fear. The issue for Solzhenitsyn then, as today, was this: Are the things that we are being told true, and if not, why are we living as if they are?
Living under a communist Soviet regime, he wrote,
We have been so hopelessly dehumanized that for today’s modest ration of food we are willing to abandon all our principles. We fear lagging behind the herd and taking a step alone.
Communist Russia didn’t care if you believed its propaganda, in fact, the bigger the lie and the more you disbelieved, the better. For the more you conformed yourself to what you knew was a lie, the more demoralised and dehumanised you became.
Having cashed in their moral principles for bread and safety, many were now so weak in conscience they had no grounds on which to fight for their own faith.
30 years later and Theodore Dalrymple would make essentially the same observation.
In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity (moral compass).
To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.
Reading Dalrymple makes me wonder, is my conscience at ease with the choices I am making today? Am I making compromises with the truth in order to move with the herd?
Are we running with the lies because we fear the liars?
In Hitler’s Germany, the lie began with hygiene. The Jews were labelled as having unclean habits, living among rats and rarely bathing. And the people believed it, and if true they posed a significant health and safety risk. In Russia, the propaganda machine taught that believers were harmful parasites with physiological disorders who spread ignorance, filth and disease. This led to 85,000 pastors being shot dead in 1937 alone.
Fast forward to today.
Is it dangerous to sing unto the Lord a new song (Psalm 96:1)? Does covering our face before the Throne of Glory save lives (2 Corinthians 3:18)? Are we starting to view each other as a health and safety risk? Where are such messages coming from—and are they true?
Up until March 2020, among the dozens of scientific papers published on the subject of masks, not one of them ever concluded that masks offered any meaningful protection against viral infection.
Then the propaganda poked its head into our churches and here we are, being supervised like little children while we wash our hands and mask up. And either we conform to the play being run on us or face humiliation, public shaming, fines, censure or imprisonment.
And that is what lies do. They humiliate. They threaten and they intimidate. And like all false doctrines, they cause division (Romans 16:17).
Now, if I had to wear a mask to buy bread, I would. If I had to wear a mask to see a dying friend, I would. That’s what love would do.
There is no sin in wearing a mask to visit the one you love, nor is there any sin in standing before the Lord in reverent silence. A little more visiting the lonely and a lot more standing in silent awe before God Almighty would be most welcome.
But there is sin when we begin to exercise authority that we do not have over the body of Christ. There is sin where you compel others to trash their own conscience and worship God according to the will of man. And there is sin when we, by word or deed, teach others to live by lies, whatever those lies may be.
I accept your decision to fiddle with your own DNA through gene therapy (mRNA) and other government injectables. I acknowledge your decision to drive an untested vaccine (that was brought to market via the aborted remains of a little girl) straight into your veins.
Do you also acknowledge my freedom to do none of those things?
And lest anyone run away with the crooked end of the stick, the issue at stake is not the science. It is the necessity of a clear conscience before God.
Love does no harm to its neighbour. One of the harms love does not do is compel others to act contrary to their conscience in matters of faith and worship (1 Corinthians 8:12).
Solzhenitsyn admitted that in his own country, much in our own day, the propaganda had already done its work. Men had been made weak by the lies they conformed to.
We lie to ourselves to preserve our peace of mind. We smile in a cowardly fashion and mumble with our tongues tied. What was drummed into our ears we have now internalised.
Lies once believed about ourselves or others, are hard to shake. People will, “keep up their lies”, wrote Goebbels, “even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”2
How then can we shake them off? In our homes, our communities, our work and our church?
Solzhenitsyn knew his Russian brothers and sisters were no longer strong enough to fend off the lies. But he saw another way. A small, but powerful way to break the spell of those who were pushing the lies.
Let our hands be clean! Let them (the liars) be in control but without any help from us. Let us refuse to say what we do not think. Let there be no conscious support to lies about anything at all. If we do not sew together these rotting rags, then that which should be naked would then really appear naked before the whole world. In our timidity, let us each make a choice; whether to remain consciously a servant of falsehood or to shrug off the lies and become honest men.
It is the truth, and only the truth, that sets a man free. But if we choose to remain a slave to lies, we will have only ourselves to blame for the slavery we are in.
1 For some interesting research into how virus’ are not spread, take a look at the research of Dr Milton J. Rosenau on the Spanish Flu and published by the Journal of American Medical Association. MJ Rosenau, “Experiments to Determine Mode of Spread of Influenza,” Journal of the American Medical Association 73, no. 5 (August 2, 1919): 311–313.
2 James A Morris, consultant pathologist. “Face Masks for the Public during the Covid-19 Crisis“, British Medical Journal. BMJ. 09 April 2020.
3 Paul Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda. Article, “Churchill’s Lie Factory”, Nazi Germany, 1941.