David Murray

Professor, Pastor, Author

"How Not to Repent of a Lie," by President Obama

If you like your health plan, you can keep you health plan. Period.”

It was a lie and was told 29 times with minor modifications.

“But all politicians lie!” say the defenders and spinners.

The President? 29 times? To the whole nation? About his signature policy achievement? Impacting the health of millions?

This was a whopper by any standards. However, when found out, it was also a huge opportunity to demonstrate how to say sorry, how to tell the truth, and how to put right what was wrong.

But, if the President’s lie was bad, his response to being found out was even worse – a perfect model of how not to repent of sin. Here are a few of the excuses we’ve heard from the President and his spokesperson over the past few weeks (I’m paraphrasing them).

1. “But I didn’t think it was a lie at the time.” Reports now indicate that President Obama and his inner circle knew it was untrue and debated whether to include the line in his speeches.

2. “But how was I to know that this would happen.” Obamacare documents reveal that the government not only expected this, but that they expected cancellations to run into the tens of millions. And why wait for 2-3 years to admit it? Why only admit it when forced to?

3. “But it only affects a small minority of Americans.” So when does a lie become a lie? When it affects 10% of the population? 20%? 50%?

4. “But the vast majority will be unaffected.” Oh, so you think that I think that if I’m alright that I don’t care about the impact of this on other families. And you also think that I am unaffected and untroubled by my President lying to millions of Americans?

5. “But what I meant was that you can keep your plan if it meets my standards.” If there’s one thing worse than lying, it’s lying about your lie.

6. “But these people will end up with better plans at better premiums.” Well that’s a relief. Because it’s not a lie if it results in benefits for those lied to, does it? The end always justifies the means, doesn’t it?

7. “It was too complicated to explain all the intricacies of the legislation.” I’d rather complicated truth than simple lies, please.

8. “It’s the insurance companies’ fault.” Oh, yes, the oldest trick in the book: ”The woman whom you gave to me…”

9. “Of course I’m sorry that people find themselves in this situation.” Not sorry for the lie itself? Only sorry for the consequences? If people had not been badly affected, would it not have been a lie then?

10. “The Republicans are simply trying to take advantage of this.” A lie is a lie, no matter how many try to politicize it.

It’s really a classic demonstration of how the human heart responds to sin: more lies, minimizing, rationalizing, blame-shifting, politicization, pragmatism, diversion, etc.

Let’s for a moment try to imagine what the President should have said.

“My fellow Americans, I lied to you. I promised that if you liked your health plan you could keep it. I repeated that lie almost 30 times in multiple venues. At the time I justified it to myself and to my advisers by saying that it was for the greater good, that it was vital in order to get Obamacare passed. I should not have done that. I was wrong and I am deeply sorry. I betrayed your trust in me.

I’ve known about this for a while, and I should have come cleaner sooner. For that too, I am sorry.

As it is only right that I try to make amends so that no one, and I repeat no one, suffers as a result of my lie, I have invited Congress to work with me to re-write the law so that all those I made that promise to, can keep their health plan. If that is not possible, then I am willing to let Obamacare fall rather than see one American suffer as a result of my lie.

I have also offered my resignation to the Secretary of State, but I know Americans are a forgiving people, and I hope you will give me opportunity to serve you further, beginning with me putting right my wrong.”

Reason says, “Madness! They’ll crucify him”

Faith says, “It’s the biblical way and God will bless it.”

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About David Murray

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He blogs at HeadHeartHand . and you can follow him on Twitter @DavidPMurray .

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