Wednesday, August 10, 2022

On Lies

 One thing I remember reading many years ago is that anything based on a lie will ultimately fail.

I do not remember specifically where I read this, but over the years I have found it to be somewhat (to my surprise) rather true.  Things that are begun with lies may triumph for a time - and be awful and incredibly painful and destructive while they are in power - but eventually, they collapse.

A lie, in case one has not checked out the definition lately, is "to make an untrue statement with an intent to deceive; to create a false or misleading impression".  Seems pretty clear, does it not?  It has some specifics to it as well:  an untrue statement with an intent to deceive, creating a false or misleading impression.

Now, we all at some time make an untrue statement.  Sometimes it is simply due to a lack of knowledge about a subject or simply a misinterpretation of something due a misread or misheard statement.  And sometimes we create a false or misleading impression accidentally, like we when we talk about something as if we know about it and someone else assumes we are experts (although we just happen to have read a magazine article once on the subject).  But in both of these cases, intent is the key difference:  we do not intend to deceive or create a false or misleading impression, it simply happens.

Far different, of course, from someone - a person, an organization - intending to deceive or intending to create false impressions.

And yet, this is where we find ourselves in the modern world.

It is a contrast, is it not?  We live in a world where now, more than ever, "truth" is supposed to be the guiding principle - and at the same time, live in a world where in so many ways, "the ends justify the means". 

In writing the above, I run the risk - as I always do - of pushing the discussion into areas that we simply do not cover here (and will, once again, not be covered here - so if the response is something along the lines of "and look at <fill in the blank> and what they are doing", save it - it will not be published).  But I write it anyway because there is one thing that we can 100% control in this discussion:  ourselves and how we deal with the truth.

We - I, anyway - have to start with an examination of my own handling of truth and lies.

Am I 100% committed to the truth?  To be fair, no.  I, probably just as often as anyone else, too often take refuge in a convenient lie (again, an untrue statement with the intent to deceive or creating a false impression) as anyone else.  Too often in the past I have walked a fine line between what was truth and what would keep me out of trouble. Too often I have left things subtly undefined in order to create an impression that was different that what the actual facts might have really been. 

In other words, I was in essence practicing the very things that I am decry.  And to the point of my introduction, the things generally ended very badly indeed.

Because that is the underlying problem with founding things on lies.  Not having truth undergirding them,  at some point they collapse either because in order to sustain the lies, there need to be more lies, or simply the lies to comport with the real facts on the ground, which eventually catch up with situation.

It is easy to point to dictatorships that squashed any element of the truth except what the leadership wanted to hear, with horrific results:  Mao's Great Leap Forward comes to mind as perhaps one of the worst, where lies about the incredible harvests (up to and including a paper-mache pig of enormous size) hid the facts as the existed.  And more and more, it seems easy to point to "free" societies that suffer from the issues.  But we often react poorly when we begin to ask how committed we are to the truth.

If we want to change anything - starting with ourselves of course, and extending outward as far as we would like to our families, our groups, our societies, our world - we have to start with ourselves and a dedication to not lying and by extension, a dedication to the truth.  And by ourselves, I specifically mean not making false statements intending to deceive or creating false impressions.  If the world is built on lies, let us not contribute to it.

(I am reminded via a quick search that I had reviewed Rod Dreher's Live Not By Lies last year.  It seems apropos to post again based on today's subject).

10 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:47 AM

    I agree with telling lies eventually will be found out. A person who thinks an individual is lying can casually ask questions and determine by the answers if they are being told the truth. Having to think up details on the spot often shows the person is lying. Often, the liar will always have an answer, not able to shrug shoulders and say they don't know. Details is a big clue

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    1. This is my experience as well. It does not matter if it is an individual or an organization; at some point the story breaks down. Interesting observation about details - and completely true.

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  2. Filthie4:01 AM

    Hmmmmmmm. I don’t think you understand the people you are up against TB. They lie as naturally as they breathe. We know they are lying, they know they are lying, and they know we know they are lying. There has been so much lying that we now live in a complete moral, spiritual and intellectual inversion, and it will fail, you are correct in that. How badly it turns out is up to us. Taking the high road with these guys will only make you more vulnerable to them. One wonders how many good Christians Mao killed in his great leaps forward? Or Stalin? Those guys that took the high road died for nothing, often with their families - for nothing. They died as nothing more than a statistic in the history books.

    The bible tells you to render unto Caesar, but not bend the knee to him. There is a time to pick up that sword and use it. Who lies about what is no longer relevant. Soon the only question will be who dies for what. I’ll leave that to my Maker. Anyone else that tries to make that decision for me will have a fight on his hands. And it might get a little ungodly for someone.

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    1. Glen, I would go one farther, and not just against people I may potentially be against but the people that in principle at least might be on my side: they all have the capacity to lie, and have done so at some point. Society has moved from the convenient "white lie" to smooth over difficult interactions to doing so on a regular basis; the ends really do justify the means in almost every case.

      But I would also suggest at least for myself - if Christian - that the high road of truth is the expectation of Christians. If we claim to be a people of truth, then we should practice truth in our lives.

      A note: In point of fact Christ did say render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and God that which is God's. However, the apostle Paul notes in Romans 13:1 "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities", and the apostle Peter in 1st Peter 2:13 "Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or governors, as to those who are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those that do good". Christians have spilled a lot of ink over the years debating what submission to the authorities mean and to how far it goes - the American Founding Fathers, for example, had a very particular reading of those passages (one that John MacArthur has argued was the wrong interpretation), and one can argue that the German people of 1931-1938 did a bit more submitting than they perhaps should have. But the example of worshipping a government or at the behest of a government seems to be treated as differently than living under the laws of a government, even one as unjust as the Caesars (no friends of Christianity when the New Testament was being penned).

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    2. Anonymous12:41 PM

      I do not accept the premise that the Bible tells you to submit to evil.

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    3. All I can say is what Scripture says: "And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled". But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God to suffer for doing good than for doing evil." - 1 Peter 3:13-17. How believers have interpreted this in history and the present is as God gives grace.

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    4. Sorry TB, but you're simply wrong. I can do that all day too:

      Exodus 21:24 - "an eye for an eye..."

      Leviticus 24:19-22 "If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him..."

      I make no pretensions of being a biblical scholar or speaking for God; the devil can quote scripture better than we can. All I am saying is the bible does not say what you are saying it does. And stuff like this is why the churches are emptying out and ungodly people are taking over. People feel abandoned by God... well... whaddya expect? Consider the Catholic Church and some of the morality issues going on at the Vatican... Christians sat on their hands and let it happen.

      This is where being honest and accepting with liars, thieves, cheats and degenerates will get you. Jesus took a whip and overturned the tables of the money changers and lenders in the temple. Christians really, REALLY need to look at the people in ours today.

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    5. Glen, your question is for the Master, not for me: "J You have heard it said "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, to with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

      You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy'. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that may be sons of your Father in heave; for He makes His sun rise on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

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  3. I remember reading that a few Germans read the lies of Rahab regarding the spies and had no qualms about lying to Nazi's about the Jews they were hiding or helping. The believed there was precedence for the saving of innocent lives. Did Romans 13 condemn them? I'm glad I don't have to judge that.


    People that ALWAYS hear an admonition and think of the perfect person "that needs to hear that" without first applying it to themselves are immature. I've learned to apply to me first (most of the time, I am human, and I do have my bouts of immaturity).

    The father of lies is unmasked in the Gospels. We know who he is, and what he is. We know why he does what he does. This world has it's own order 1 John 2:16. We (those who have the trust in God) are supposed to be in the world but not of it. It makes sense why the truly Godly folks want freedom and liberty. And why the followers of the liar want to control and manipulate and kill. The Godly know this life is temporary and as close to hell as they will get. The worldly think this life is all there is. So they grab all they can, for tomorrow they die.


    We are warned in the Bible what is going to happen, and how it will come about (if you interpret the Bible literally). More and more, this world is coming apart at the seams. Just as the Bible said it would. At some point, things are going to be so bad, the world will reach out to someone to fix it all, and for a while it'll be okay. Then all HELL will break loose.

    We are in a sifter. And it's doings it's job. Not too hard to tell, now which side folks are lined up on. And getting along is harder every day, because of the divergence of the positions.

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    1. STxAR, as odd as it seems, I have also read where some interpret lying quite strictly. To some extent, such extreme measures may be left up to conscience - and both positions may be right.

      I had never thought about lies about specifically being about control and manipulation, but that is exactly right. No one ever lies for truly good reasons.

      We are indeed in a sifter. And sides are being decided more and more every day.

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