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Biblical Lie Detector
Written May 30, 2015


One local TV station here carries a long-running syndicated program called Maury.  I sometimes come across it by accident and immediately change the channel.  But I’ve seen enough to describe the program as follows.

Host Maury Povich brings out lowlife guests with problems involving unfaithfulness.  For example, a woman has no idea which of her various lovers has fathered her child.  Paternity tests have been negative for two different men so far.  “3RD MAN TESTED...I’M PRAYING HES MY BABYS DAD!”  She's asking God to make the third guy's test come out positive.

Each case seems to fall into one of two types. 

Type C involves someone accusing their partner of Cheating on them.

Type P involves a promiscuous woman demanding child support from a man.  He admits having sex with her but disclaims any Paternal responsibility, because the real father could be someone else.

The guests scream at each other as if they were on Jerry Springer, flailing about and weeping and threatening and accusing each other of lying.  The audience cheers and boos on cue.  Fights break out.  Finally, Maury settles the issue by revealing the result of a test.

For Type P, it’s a paternity test using DNA.  I have no problem with the science, but I do object to the very public sensationalizing of what should be a private matter.

If the man on stage is the father, we watch him break down and sob while the baby momma taunts him.

But if someone else is the father, the man dances and prances, wildly celebrating being absolved of any responsibility for the kid.  The mother sulks.  Neither party shows the other any love or respect.

For Type C, Maury reveals the result of a polygraph test.  I do have a problem with this.  Lie detectors are unreliable.  Their results are not legally admissible as evidence in court.  The loser might tearfully continue to insist there really wasn't an affair and it’s the machine that’s lying.  But on this show, the machine is the final authority.

Maury shouldn’t use lie detectors.  According to the Bible, he shouldn’t even use DNA tests.  God’s Holy Word specifies a different procedure.  And, as we know, “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for ... setting things straight.”

The Biblically-prescribed examination needs to take place promptly, before the baby is born.  The instructions are in the fifth chapter of Numbers, verses 11 through 31.  In essence, the Bible tells us that the Lord has commanded the following rite:

If a husband suspects his wife has become pregnant by another man but can't prove she's been unfaithful, he must bring her to a priest, along with two quarts of dry barley meal as a “jealousy offering.”  The priest scrapes up some dirt from the floor and dumps it into a cup of holy water.  Standing before the altar, he removes the woman’s veil, gives her the barley to hold, and puts her under oath.

“If you have not gone astray, let your innocence be established by the bitter water.  But if you have let yourself become defiled, may the Lord make an example of you!  Your belly will swell and your womb will shrivel.”  The woman must respond, “Amen.  So be it.”

The priest writes his curses on a scroll and then washes off the ink into the cup of muddy water.  He places the barley on the altar and burns a handful of it.  (The unburnt 1.9 quarts of grain, of course, will eventually find their way into the priests’ pantry.)  Finally he again picks up the cup of dirty, inky water and makes the woman drink it.  If she has been unfaithful, when the magic potion enters her guilty body it will cause an abortion.

[Note on versions:  many English Bibles translate the Hebrew as "her stomach will swell and her thigh will fall away" or similar phrases, but the New Revised Standard says "her womb shall discharge, her uterus drop" and the Common English Bible says "her womb will discharge and she will miscarry."]

The husband will accept the justice of this miscarriage, because the test has shown it wasn’t his baby anyway.  This is the word of the Lord.  No screaming or leaping about, just a simple trial by ordeal.  And some barley, of course.  Don’t forget to bring the barley.

We need to suggest this to Maury.



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