When Truth Perishes In A Nation: What The Cam Newton Story May Be Teaching Us About Where We Are As A Nation

The sporting world is focused once again, not on who is number one, but on who is telling the truth. The case before us now is not about a baseball player testifying before Congress, but about a young quarterback from Auburn who just happens to be one of the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy. And his coach just happens to have the number one team in the nation that will likely play for the national championship. Cam Newton is accused by spurious sources as well as reliable ones for cheating at his last school, the University of Florida (see the USA Today story here) and for recruiting violations at Mississippi State University (see that story here). What is clear is that many things are unclear. Newton, the student-athlete, denies any wrongdoing. His coach, Ron Chizik, has defended his star player calling him a “son” and showing great and understandable defensiveness.

This is yet another potential black mark on the professional and big time collegiate football. However, as this story is written, and as it comes on the trail of Heisman trophy winner Reggie Bush returning his trophy for violations, it brings disrepute upon not only the “industry” of sports, but further blurring of our national morals. At a time when we could use a hero or two for our young men in particular, we are getting stories like this. When you add a Tiger Woods story and a Reggie Bush story thrown into the mix of this latest controversy, you begin to see that we have a problem. One of the indicators of the loss of a national moral compass is not just a rise in organized crime, but a rise in cheating on exams by students, a fudging on military service by politicians, and a cooking the books by accountants on Wall Street and yes, as they say, on Main Street. When we abandon the moral compass of our nation we begin to fly solo with the reality of original sin drawing us down. Crashes are inevitable. Eventually, it can take a whole nation down.

The Bible teaches, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage” (Psalms 33:12 ESV)!  We want this for our country, for our kids, for our sports heroes and for our politicians. But the Bible also recognizes that when a nation turns from God it begins a journey towards divine judicial response. In Jeremiah, God told the prophet that a lack of truth led God’s people into bondage:

“And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips” (Jeremiah 7:28 ESV).

I hope for our children’s sake that Cam Newton is telling the truth. He should be given the benefit of the doubt at this point. Yet the fact remains, the headlines of our sports pages reflect the headlines of our front pages: truth is perishing. We are a nation that is losing its way. The hope is to turn to the moral compass of God’s Word, the Bible, that is the “heritage” of not only our nation, but also of Western Civilization.

It is time for truth.

About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
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