Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How Bad is a Lie, Really?

My husband and I have worked hard to teach our children not to lie. (It has always been stunning to us how early lying begins in a little child). We have taught them to stand for the truth no matter what the consequence may bring. And to be honest, some of the situations where we have found them lying have almost been comical, but none-the-less they have been disciplined for their actions.  I have found my children lying even in a retelling of a simple experience they had. The exaggerations come flying out of their mouth, the  kids start laughing, but when they get a look from me, it all stops. They confess the parts that were exaggerated and then continue with their story. We've taught the children that exaggerating a story is a form of lying, especially when the audience hearing the story doesn't understand that it is a hyperbole. We have also taught them that there is no such thing as, 'a little white lie." There is no small lie or big lie-it's all lying. (And by the way, the person who told you, 'it's just a little white lie,' lied to you).  It's been a tough lesson for them and tough on us to keep on top of. So, how bad is a lie, really? Should I be going to all this effort and hard work to keep my children from lying?

Of course the answer is yes, but why? I went ahead and asked my children, "Why do you think lying is bad?" Some of the answers were predictable: "You'll get in trouble if you lie,"  "It's not nice," and "It's not Christian to lie," but some of the answers were more thought provoking: "It hurts others and yourself,"  "It hurts God," and "The Bible tells us not to." Okay, with that I thought I would look again at the Scriptures. What does God think about lying?

Immediately I went to Deuteronomy and checked the Ten Commandments and there it was, number nine: "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."  Not lying made the ten commandments, along with  murder, adultery, and stealing!"

This next Scripture got me in the heart when I read it twenty years or so ago and I've never forgotten it:
There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers." (Proverbs 6:16-19)
That is very clear and the words are very strong- "hate" and "detestable" Yup, I'd say lying is pretty bad in God's eyes. What about hurting others? Does lying really hurt others?

Scriptures says, "Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor. (Proverbs 25:18)

I will agree fully with that Scripture. The times in my life where I have been lied to or someone has given false testimony about me to another did hurt. It really did feel like someone hit me with a club. And it hasn't happened only once. I have many memories of people lying to me or lying about me that I could share, but I will tell you the story of the very first time I ever encountered an out-in-out lie.

I was five years old and my sister was seven. We got into an argument over something and we couldn't seem to settle it ourselves when my sister said, "I'm going to tell mommy." I honestly thought in my heart, "Yes, that is a great idea! No one hearing this story will believe how ridiculous she is being."  We ran down to find mom. My sister got to her first and preceded to tell my mother what had happened. As the words came out of her mouth my mind became completely twisted by her lies. I tried to tell the truth, but my mother would hear none of it. I was yelled at for the first time. I was blamed completely for the incident. I was punished. As we walked away my sister smiled at me. I asked her why she made up that whole story and her response was, "I knew mom would believe anything I said."

I think we will all agree that lying is wrong, Christian or not. So, why are people lying? It's not just children lying. In talking with adults I automatically believe every word they share with me. I have no reason to think that an adult would lie, but sadly adults do lie-Christians lie! ("Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless." James 1:26)

I have actually had adults look me in the eyes and lie to me! I have also heard adults lying to other adults. (I only know they have lied because I was there and knew the truth). And of course I have had the opportunity to hear someone give false testimony about me to another, but that's not all, they did it right in front of me! It was quite shocking. (I have forgiven them- from my sister to the present).

So why lie? Are adults afraid of getting in trouble? I think some of them are. Why do they embellish a story? To gain more friends? I think some of them do. But at what cost? They are breaking the Ten Commandments, they are hurting others, loosing friends, (not gaining them) hurting themselves, and not maturing in God. Lying is a serious issue for children and adults. Scriptures tells us that all of us should watch our tongues, be careful of our words, and do not lie!

So, as hard as it is, I am going to keep teaching and training my children not to lie. Why? Because, as my children clearly and accurately stated, "It hurts others and yourself,"  "It hurts God," and "The Bible tells us not to."

No comments:

Post a Comment