How can we trust people who need to be fact checked?

How can we trust people who need to be fact checked?

The first presidential debate was yesterday (9/26/16) and I had the honor of watching it with Josh and Sarah (although they both were falling asleep). I am also lucky as this blog is going out the day after this debate happened. As many people watched a very polished politician and an outspoken businessman and reality TV star try to disqualify the each other, they might be wondering “how do I know who I can trust?”

It is so difficult to know who we can trust. I can give a person positional respect, but not completely trust them. Trust seems to take more time to earn and is easily broken. When it comes to politics and elected officials we are placed in a hard position. We SHOULD be able to trust them if we want them to represent us and hopefully we can respect them. We look to the platform that that candidate represents and then we have to decide if they actually represent what they say. How do we know which candidate we can trust? Hilary hammered hard that her website was fact checking everything that Donald was saying and every news outlet has their story on all the things that each candidate was wrong about. Are they simply negligent with their information or are they willingly lying to sway the masses?

“Their track record”

This is a phrase that comes up often, “Well if you look at my proven track record...” but then we end up with soundbites of that person contradicting themself over and over and over again (although often over many years). How can this be?

There are two explanations:

  1. Things change…. People change and circumstances change so our stance and perceptions change. When people are recording your every word it is easy to find changes in our opinions, but what is missing is the train of thought and the arc in perspective, so it looks like we flipflop or are lying.
  2. We are lying, saying what we think others want to hear, regardless of what we actually thing, in an effort to persuade people to be on our side.
  • It is probably a combination of both, with one or the other making up more of the person’s character

Interpreting a person’s track record still requires trust. It relies upon our biases and preconceived notions of the person. Example: if a person believes that Hilary Clinton is the right person to be president they can overlook the email scandal; if a person thinks Hilary is evil, the email scandal just proves why they hate her. It does not even have to be based on “facts” just what we think of the person. Maybe you don't like her husband so you don't like her; Maybe you love her husband so you love her.

So how can we trust these people? We really cannot know for sure if they are lying or just have changed. I certainly want to give a person the chance to change and grow since I want the same allowance in my own life! There is nothing more frustrating than trying to change a personal issue or reassess an opinion and have people try to keep you in a box or even worse, call you a liar.

Trust requires a bit of optimism. It is easier to realistically acknowledge that everyone lies or pessimistically believe that neither of these candidates are telling the truth. But to optimistically believe that they are telling the truth and that we can believe that they want to best for us as the citizens of the nation that they want to lead, is hard. The Optimism that allows us to trust also allows us to feel vulnerable, especially if we find out that they broke that trust. Its easier to just assume they are liars. We especially don’t like a grey area of they could be telling the truth about some things and lying about others. We just want to label them a liar and discredit everything they say. But like I already said, it’s more likely that some things are lies and some things people simply changed their mind about. It’s easier to completely trust someone or completely distrust someone, than to have to use research, critical thinking, and a little intuition to come to a conclusion about what they are saying.

So how do we know? Only thing we can do is do research, rely on God for help, and be open to reassess our opinions on a person. Beyond that, it is up to the person to respect us through being honest and genuine.

God is the only one we can trust in.

I was really tempted to write about God’s "proven track record" but that includes wrath, judgment, and death, so I am writing on how we must trust God in our voting since often it feels as if people are saying that it is up to them to convince everyone to vote for the person they think is the right choice or else the world will end (spoiler: the world is going to end eventually regardless of who you vote for).

I guess the more I have thought about the election process and politics the more that I have found that many sentiments that I hear from Christians are not trusting in God. When we do not trust God we are calling Him a liar. God literally says that He appoints governments it might be a stretch to say that it us up to my one vote to elect someone who will “make America a Christian nation again.” I have seen this sentiment used to say that we don't need to bother voting and I understand how one can arrive at that decision, but that’s not where I stand. One makes it literally up to them to get the right person elected and the other trusts God’s sovereignty to the point that they have to do nothing. I think that it is important to believe in God’s sovereignty but God also constantly calls us to act. God making everything happen is not an excuse not to do something. Christians need to look to deeply into the candidates and different issues. Christians must seek the heart of Christ and obey Him.

I don’t know how God makes His will workout. Sometimes He uses us. So after seeking God we must vote the way that God asks us to vote. Above all we must obey what God tells us to do. At that point, I have to accept if someone chooses not to vote or to vote for someone I would never vote for. I cannot call into question if someone is a Christian or if they are saved if they do not vote as I think they should. That’s just wrong. It’s not up to me to question if a person has put in the work of seeking God on the basis that they voted a different way. I must trust God that who ever is elected is who He wants elected.

The Future

I think that it is pretty clear that things get worse and not better, from a human perspective. It is not a matter of if but of when. Things could get better before they get worse, I truly don’t know. But we cannot trust in the world’s systems to be the salvation of humanity. There is a big difference between trusting a candidate and trusting in a candidate. When we put our hope in a candidate or government to be our salvation, we are saying that we do not trust God to save us.  The candidate that I trust might be someone who does terrible things and the path that we head down might be one that is meant to make God known. I say that keeping in mind that God makes Himself known in Revelation through wrath and many people reject Him because of it. We MUST realize that everything will workout through God, but this does not mean that it will be here on earth. Everything works out for the good for those who love God according to His purpose. I think that this could ultimately mean that the good is finally being reunited in relationship with God in heaven. As bad as things might get here on earth, I must trust and rely on God. 

My final answer is that God is the only one we can totally trust all the time, but He does not want us to go around trusting no one as a result. God does not want us to trust in people to the point where we are relying on them in such a way that is only meant for God.

About the Author | Sean Kready
An imperfect Christian, who sins on the daily, but tries to share his journey so that we all might know God better. This is our offering. An act of worship.

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This American Church
A place for exploring the Church in the American context. Issues may get political, cultural, and philosophical — but it’s always personal.

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