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Cruz and Carson

Resolving the Cruz-Carson Fiasco


I summarized the problems of the Cruz-Carson brouhaha in a previous essay, implying that the problem had not been resolved.

And it has not been resolved. Wednesday morning, Rubio used a press conference to call attention to Cruz’ character, citing the Carson fiasco as evidence. At the Republican debate last Saturday, Trump threw the fiasco in Cruz’ face again.

The previous debate started out with questions about the Cruz-Carson debacle. Cruz apologized again, while blaming CNN. Carson used it as an example of Washington ethics.

Then CNN started calling Cruz a liar. And Carson is hoping Cruz fires someone.

A few days ago, Morning Joe interviewed Carson and the issue was brought up again. A recent Politico article shows that the fracas has brought more money Carson’s way.

What a mess. Why has it dragged on?

The why is the simple fact that sin and repentance are no longer words used in politics.

Instead, Americans and Christians are comfortable with mistake and apology.

Did Cruz sin? Or did one of his workers sin? Both? If so, what were the sins? And how serious?

Or was it a mistake—that amorphous go-to trash can that swallows responsibility? If it was this kind of mistake, what can Carson do about it? What moral ground can he stand upon?

This is why the fiasco has lasted a few weeks (forever in a news-cycle). People do not understand the moral issues involved. Or rather, as Cruz’ response indicated and Carson’s persistent, low-key indignation demonstrated, people are aware that a moral issue is involved but have no Biblical categories to handle the matter.

What Cruz’ team-member did when sending out the misleading tweet was wrong. That is a moral category. How do we know it is wrong and not simply a mistake?

The Ninth Commandment is the reason. Bearing false witness is not only a judicial concern, it should be the concern of all Christians. When the truth is suppressed and untruth promoted, that is bearing false witness.

Knowing the nature of Twitter, yet being quick to pass on bad news (Ps. 15:3; Prov. 29:12), coupled with the neglect to think the best of our neighbor (1 Cor. 13) and the omission of the corrected information, this paints a striking picture of culpable negligence.

Now, before I continue, I am not judging anyone’s heart. In fact, I strongly suspect the perpetrator of the misleading tweet was not malicious in his heart. Rather, he was sloppy with the truth.

And sloppiness with the truth is forbidden by God’s law, whether intentional or not.

Just consider an IRS agent who mistakenly added an extra zero to a tax return check. Would the IRS think “well, it was an honest mistake”? Or would they dock his pay? Maybe fire him? They would certainly believe he was morally culpable.

In this case, even the unbelievers recognized something was morally amiss. A debate moderator asked Cruz a penetrating question: As a friend of Carson, why was he or his team not contacted first? Cruz did not offer a clear answer. Instead, he blamed CNN (who, in turn, demonstrably proved otherwise).

And Carson certainly believes this a moral issue: that is why he uses moral language and will not let the matter rest.

And to take the evidence one step further, Carson’s plea highlights the commonsensical assertion that this is a moral issue: how could someone “think so little of me?” How could someone think he would drop out of the race ten minutes before the caucus?

And the love-test of the Bible should settle the matter: “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Mat. 7:12).

I strongly suspect neither Cruz nor his team would want Carson’s group to do the same thing to them. And they would expect a corresponding correction of the matter.

Carson was wronged. And he should be able to confront the offending party (Matt. 18:15). And the offending party should bear fruits worthy of repentance (Mat. 3:8).

This is a bad testimony for Christians. And Morning Joe reported that many of Carson’s supporters are not willing to “forgive and forget.” How should this be resolved?

Carson could still demand proper repentance even as he could acknowledge he was too quick to accept Cruz’ apology.

Or Carson could drop the matter, letting love cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). And he could encourage his followers to do the same thing.

Cruz could call a press conference and offer stronger language than “I apologize” and offer concrete changes (fire the offender, policy change, etc.).

This could strengthen his Christian witness, diffuse his critics and restore a little sanity into the fractious race.

The Cruz-Carson fiasco is still with us. And the first step to resolution and reconciliation is to use the right language. Then, hopefully, both men can move forward together.


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