I love the Heidelberg Catechism. Even as I’ve left once and for all the denomination I grew up in I maintain a preference for its confessional standards over against the Westminster tradition. Lots of people have Lord’s Day 1 memorized; I myself ended up memorizing Lord’s Days 9 and 10 a couple summers ago as my father was undergoing his third set of cancer treatments. That was a very hard period for me. Little did I know that as that trial passed another, much worse one would arise–and that one has yet to abate.
But today I find myself thinking of Lord’s Day 43. A number of events have brought it to mind. For one, I was falsely accused of something. The person making the accusation was a church officebearer and there was no evidence, no basis on which to make it. Yet he made it, not to me, but to a group of denominational officials, who then passed it on to another such group, who then gave my father the third degree about it. These men are all leaders in a Christian denomination. Unfounded accusations, gossip, and rumor-mongering should be beneath such, no? But apparently not.
So. From the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 43.
What is required
in the ninth commandment?
I must not give false testimony against anyone,
twist no one’s words,
not gossip or slander,
nor condemn or join in condemning anyone
rashly and unheard.
Rather, I must avoid all lying and deceit
as the devil’s own works,
under penalty of God’s heavy wrath.
In court and everywhere else,
I must love the truth,
speak and confess it honestly,
and do what I can
to defend and promote
my neighbour’s honour and reputation.
In the aftermath of my father’s clergy killing (calling it an aftermath seems wrong now, as it’s clear his character is still being assassinated), I am not the only one being gossiped about and accused of things behind my back. It’s happening again and again to others who have been victimized throughout this ordeal. In fact, I found out secondhand a year ago that I was being negatively talked about, and more recently than that that I was deliberately excluded from helping out in a church function which was also last year. All this has been going on that long.
The Catechism enjoins Christians to love the truth and show love for their neighbor by promoting his good name. It also says rightly that “lying and deceit” are “the devil’s own works”. What that says about the churchy, kind people where I live, I leave to the reader to decide.