Posts tagged lying
“People lie for a reason,” or so says Jeff Hancock. And I think that’s true. Self-preservation and ego stand out to me as two reasons that people frequently lie. The question presented here, for me, is not why we lie or even how we lie (though that is Hancock’s focus). The question that interests me most is what are the consequences of our lies.
As Hancock alludes to, people for many centuries lied because it was very unlikely that they would be caught. Think back a few months to the U.S. Presidential elections. In those elections, as in most recent elections, you had people lying and being caught in their lies. Rewind 100 years and I’m guessing there was just as much, possibly more, lying. But what were the chances they were going to get caught? A politician could say one thing in one town and another thing in another town and it was highly unlikely that either town would be the wiser.
Today, all of that has changed. We live in an information-saturated society. Everybody is a writer, everybody a videographer, everybody a reporter. There is so much information out there about any given subject that you can Google almost any question and come up with an answer. And we are only increasing in this information output and consumption.
I recently read of two devices being developed for “life logging” – that is, recording nearly everything that happens in a person’s life. The current devices do this by taking photographs at short intervals – say, every 30 seconds – in order to catalog your day. Future devices will, no doubt, include video, audio and perhaps other atmospheric, biological or geographical data. In short, we are nearing a place where one will be able to have a searchable database of the occurrences of their life.
So, back to my question: What are the consequences of lying? Well, obviously, the more information that is available, the more difficult the ruse. The consequences of even the smallest lie could be catastrophic if there is a mountain of evidence that we, in fact, lied. In that sense, perhaps Hancock is right. Maybe the internet is making us more honest. Here’s to hope that theory holds true for politicians in the near future!
There’s not really much to comment on here. God really hates idolatry and he hates lying. He is particularly harsh on those who lie using his name. I guess that should serve as a stern warning for those of us who are in ministry. The only thing worse than deliberately misleading people is to do so under the name of God, Jesus , the Holy Spirit or the Church.
Of course, the history of the Church is riddled with its share of swindlers and crooks. In some ways, that’s almost a given when you consider the sheer number of people who are and have been a part of the global church over the years. In any large group, there are bound to be some bad apples. But it goes deeper than that.
You see, I think the reason that theses crooks seem to pop up in the Church ties directly back to the issue of Godly authority. As humans, we really want authority. We want to be in charge. We want to be “the decider.” And when we realize that we have very little actual authority (we have authority over people, maybe, but little else), some go looking for ways to obtain more authority – even if it’s phony.
Enter God. God is the ultimate authority and so, invoking his name as your source of authority is very effective. If you can convince your listeners that the words you are speaking came directly from God, they are not only more likely to follow you, but they are more likely to hold you in high esteem. After all, a messenger from God must be a pretty important person.
And so, someone who is good at convincing people with their words or who is good at telling people what they want to hear can go far in life by claiming to speak on God’s behalf. Of course, this is not God’s desire. In fact, in Ezekiel 13, God tells us how he’s going to deal with these false prophets and the people who entice them to say flowery things.
He say’s he’s going to take matters into his own hands. He’s going to “eliminate the middle man” and answer these people directly. Unfortunately for them, I don’t think they’re going to like his answer. The Bible tells us that God is not mocked and these passages show us that if you try to mock him, you’re going to be in trouble.
And so, as a leader in a church, it is imperative that, first and foremost, I speak for myself. And second, if I ever feel like God desires to speak through me, I better be extremely humble in such a role and I better be 100% sure that the words I’m speaking are from God. Otherwise, I might have to get up close and personal with the side of God I would rather not see!
Jehu’s deception of the followers of Baal is an interesting read. In fact, the entire episode of Jehu’s rise to power reads more like a modern novel or movie script than an ancient religious text. But this one meeting of all of the followers of Baal is unique. Here, an appointed servant of God is intentionally deceiving (and then murdering) an entire group of people.
Ethical and moral questions abound. Was it right for Jehu to lie and murder these people? Was this truly God’s will? If so, are there applications for us? I mean, hopefully you’re not planning to go out and kill anyone (I’m definitely not condoning that!) but are there situations in which it is OK to lie in order to advance God’s cause?
The neat and tidy answer – the one with the cute little bow on top – would be, “No, there is no need to lie. You must always be truthful and trust that God will make a way.” Well, George Washington, that logic works if you chopped down a cherry tree and are facing parental discipline, but what about when the stakes are a little higher?
What if you’re smuggling Bibles into a country where they are illegal? If somebody asks you if you are bringing anything illegal into the country, what do you say? How about if you are leading a house church in a country where church gatherings have been banned. If your neighbor (or the authorities) ask you who has been visiting your house, do you spill the beans?
For those who are living in these realities every day, the story of Jehu can actually be a source of comfort. When we read the books of the law in the Old Testament, including the 10 Commandments, the number one law that should govern our actions is to honor and serve God. Deception and even outright lying has been a tool used by God’s followers (and sanctioned by him) since the beginning of time.
Even God’s grand plan to save humanity in the form of Jesus relied on deception in order to work. A form of God who looked like a mere human was placed on this earth and only a few were let in on the rouse. Even the great deceiver himself, Satan, was fooled into believing that he had won when Jesus was crucified. It was all a big con.
And so, though most of us will rarely, if ever, have a justifiable reason to lie, there are certainly those times when it is appropriate – when in direct obedience to God’s wishes. So, the next time you tell you’re kids “It’s never OK to lie,” just remember that at a security checkpoint half way around the world, there might be a “Bible mule” who disagrees with that moral lesson.