Making the biblical case for journalism

“These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates.” — Zechariah 8:16

When I was a young boy, my mother studied the Bible intently.

I can still picture her on the floor of our modest home on Euclid Street in Battle Creek’s Post Addition, multiple versions of the Bible spread out around her, each marked up with highlighter. She’d spread multiple notebooks out among the Bibles, each filled with her loopy scrawls as she digested each verse and journaled her thoughts.

She wanted not just to know the Bible, but to understand it and how it applied to her life.

And she shared those lessons with my brother and me, she sitting on the couch and my brother and me sitting on the floor in front of her, listening by lamplight as she told us of the humility, of the King of Kings coming to Earth as a man so he could sacrifice himself to save all of us.

She told us that God is love for every man, woman, and child, and Jesus lifted up those the world looked down upon, dining with tax collectors and letting a prostitute wash his feet, because he came to save them, too.

She told us that God is just and loves justice, that he wants us to fight for the oppressed, that he hates hypocrisy.

Those nighttime Bible lessons in that dim-lit living room in that run-down neighborhood formed the moral and ethical code that I still live by today, that I try to teach my own son, and that I carry with me in my profession.

Indeed, while the media’s detractors see us as godless swine with no love for anything and the most extreme of those detractors even see us as part of a satanist cabal, I do what I do because I believe it is the best way I can use my God-given talents to make the world a better place.

I write for and about everyone, for and about people of all faiths and people of no faith, but my motivation for doing so comes straight from those Bible lessons from my mother.

Journalism seeks justice, holding accountable the powerful and watching whether the government works for the governed.

Proverbs 21:15 says that, “when justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” Isaiah 30:18 says “the Lord is a God of justice.” Micah 6:8 says God requires us “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Journalism aims to give voice to the voiceless and to document the plight of the oppressed.

Isaiah 1:17 tells us to “defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Proverbs 31:8-9 tells us to “open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” And Matthew 9:12-13 quotes Jesus as saying, “‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick … For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'”

Journalism aims to shine a light on that which wrongdoers want to remain hidden, and John 3:20-21 says “everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

And journalism aims to always speak the truth and make sure others speak the truth — even uncomfortable truths, because only when we know the truth can we make any real change for the better.

In the Bible, they call that “speaking the truth in love,” as in Ephesians 4:15, which says that, “speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Later in the same chapter, the Bible urges us to “speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”

I’m no theologian, and I don’t even know if I’m a good Christian. I let myself get too busy for church, sometimes, and maybe don’t spend enough time in my own Bible studies nowadays.

But I know where my moral and ethical center comes from, and that’s what drives me to do this work.

Justin A. Hinkley can be reached at 989-354-3112 or jhinkley@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHinkley.


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