Jonathan's Perspective  

Jul 31

'Lying isn’t a big deal, is it?'

I know you never lie – let’s just get that out of the way – but you may want to consider this blog from the perspective of a hypothetical person, ‘a friend’. 

Do people really have a problem with lying? Consider that Dr. Feldman’s study determined that people lie an average of 3.3 times in every 10-minute conversation. Another study of parents determined that 59% of parents lie to their children regularly – on purpose! But they all want their children to tell the truth. Ralph Keyes wrote that ‘Some form of deception occurs in nearly two-thirds of all conversations.’ (All studies are quoted from The Good and Beautiful Life, by J. B. Smith) Perhaps lying is more of an epidemic than a problem. 

Why do we – I mean ‘our friends’ – lie? Dr. Smith proposes two causes. People lie to get what they want and to avoid what they don’t want. What do we lie about to get what we want? Cheating to get a good grade; not reporting cash income to avoid taxes; lying about age to get cheaper tickets; ‘padding’ resumes to get into college or a new job; saying you’ll do something to attain something when you have no intention of following through. We also lie to avoid what we don’t want: saying I did the work to avoid a teacher’s/boss’s punishment and reprimand in front of others; telling a supervisor that you’ve finished a project that you had forgotten and running to your desk to get it done; Diverting attention away from you by blaming someone else for a project’s failure; or going to the bathroom to avoid work.  

"Every lie is two lies, the lies we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it." Robert Brault

These may seem relatively small, but we know of many less mundane things that we lie about. But lying isn’t really that bad…. Or is it? Many lies may not be found out, but it only takes a couple discovered lies to ruin your character. When that happens, it takes an enormous toll on our relationships. The breach of trust is sometimes irreparable. Friendships and even marriages may not withstand a significant breach of trust. It isn’t just the large lie that wreaks havoc. When someone finds out that you have told a few small lies, they are suspicious about what you say in the future. It will take a long time for people to begin to regain confidence in what you say. These consequences are often far greater than if we simply fessed up in the beginning. An excepted apology usually wipes the slate clean and is not held against you. 

When you were little, your momma and daddy told you to always tell the truth. Now is as good a time as any to return to that advice. Our lives will be much less complicated. We won’t have to keep track of what we did and didn’t say. Consequences will diminish if we immediately correct a lie and apologize. Jesus said, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matt 5:37) The simple way is often the best way. In this case, we would do well to follow Jesus clear and simple words.

Blessings,

Jonathan

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