The FOX News Network has made a name for itself by promising to present the news “fair and balanced.” Its anchors say, “We report. You decide.” Bill O’Reilly opens his hour-long program with, “You’re in the no spin zone.” He closes with a bit of a smile and twinkle in his eye, saying, “Remember, the spin stops here.”
Most of us would probably like to believe that “fair and balanced” is our style of news. But what do our actions say? How do we report our own stories? Isn’t it true that when we do our own anchoring . . .
We wonder. They’re nosy.
We’re cautious. They’re paranoid.
We’re composed. They’re stuffy.
We’re concerned. They gripe.
We’re determined. They’re bullheaded.
We don’t have to try to make such distinctions. They just happen. In unguarded, emotional, or self-protective moments, we naturally choose words that give the benefit of the doubt to ourselves at the expense of others. With little thought, we hide our own wrongs and exaggerate the faults of others.
What’s behind the spin?
How do we explain our tendency to be unfair and unbalanced? Has spin been necessary for the survival of the fittest? Or does the Bible give us a better explanation for why we, even unintentionally, color, slice, and dice the truth?
One evidence of the Bible’s credibility is that it doesn’t seem to hide or minimize the faults of its own people. From the Bible itself we learn that Moses was a killer, David was an adulterer, and Paul, in his own words, was the chief of sinners.
Let’s take this a step further. Could the Bible be the ultimate no-spin zone? Look at what it does. Without covering up the wrongs of its own “chosen people,” it tells a story that reflects not only our inclinations, but why we all aspire to something higher.
When did the spin begin?
According to Genesis, in the beginning the first two people had no reason to do anything but love life and truth. They were both created by a great Author who used His own words to compose a perfect story for them.
With the turn of the page, however, the Author’s real-life cast of characters walk out on Him. Instead of following His script, they decide to write their own story.
Who spun first?
The history of truth telling took a turn for the worse when the first man and woman met someone who claimed to know more about their Author’s motives than they did. Like a tennis player hitting an intentional slice, the stranger put his own spin on the only limitation the Author had given them. He asked the woman whether it was really true that the Author had told them they could not eat from every tree in the garden.
Because the couple had no experience with evil, the woman didn’t see the danger of talking to a stranger. While they may have wondered why the Author had put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil off limits, they had no reason to doubt His motives.
But the stranger raised an interesting question. Why didn’t the Author want them eating from that tree? What secrets was He keeping from them? Why didn’t He want them knowing as much as He knew?
They had entered a spin zone.
The spread of spin
When the Author found the couple and asked the man what he had done, the man blamed the woman. The woman, in turn, pointed her finger at the Serpent who, as we later learn, has his own issues with the Author (Job 1:9-11).
Even though neither of them saw it coming, the man and woman now had something in common with the blame-shifting devil whose name means “the accuser.”
Some would say the first couple bet the farm and lost it on bad advice. But being evicted from their home and land was the least of their growing problems. Something in them had died. For the first time, they were not on the same page with the Author. Their loss of innocence and knowledge of good and evil changed the way they thought and talked about one another.
From that time on, the first couple and their children had something to hide about themselves and to suspect in others. In an effort to avoid blame for what they had done, they would always tend to tell their story in a way that blurred the line between fact and fiction.
Today we are living out the legacy of our first parents’ spin. The use of half-truths to color our thinking is a commercial and political art. Urban legends multiply. Advertising plays with our minds. Truth is told and sold at a price none of us can afford.
The solution for spin
With such spinning of the truth running through our veins, how could our own story turn out well?
According to the Bible, the great Author and finisher of our faith offers to reverse and stop the spin for us (Romans 5:19; Hebrews 12:2). While we are inclined to project our guilt onto others, Jesus does the opposite. He takes our guilt upon Himself (2 Corinthians 5:21), accepts full responsibility for our spiritual debts, and gives His blamelessness to anyone who receives Him (John 1:12; 5:24).
With an offer that releases us from our addiction to sin and spin, Jesus says, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
Father in heaven, the way we twist the truth about ourselves and others says so much about our need of You. We keep falling back into our old ways of favoring ourselves at the expense of others. Please help us to show increasingly an honesty of conversation and integrity of life demonstrating to our world that our hope and our security is not in our spin, and certainly not in our sin—but in You. —Mart De Haan