Is lying always bad?

Not so if you’re The Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt. His editorial paints untruths as a way of maintaining peace and happiness, whereas telling the truth is an “enemy of peace and contentment”. His editorial is more or less influencd by the TV show The Moment of Truth, where contestants are asked at times probing personal questions. The truthfulness with which these questions are answered influences the contestant’s chances of winning prizemoney.

In a veiled potshot at the doctrine of honesty expounded by “fundamental priests, raging senselessly against lies”, he presents a flawed interpretation of the ninth commandment, claiming that when God said “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour”, he meant the person who lives next door, not those nearest and dearest to you. As a matter of fact, according to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary the Hebrew word for neighbour is rêa‛and is more accurately translated as a close associate, friend, husband or lover. So it’s more serious a matter than Bolt would have us believe.

I personally can testify to the negative effects of the odd lie, as I’m sure a lot of people could. Relationships break down, careers can be ruined, and one’s life can be made quite difficult with the stigma of not telling the truth. The issue of lying isn’t as simple as pretending that the Easter Bunny exists until such a time in your kid’s life when he/she finds out that there’s no such thing. It’s something that has devastating effects if you’re sprung, such as is shown on The Moment of Truth.

Why lie in the first place? I guess it’s the simple fact that we as people have the tendency to get ourselves into such circumstances that cause harm to reputation, and because of our pride, we simply can’t allow our reputation and standing amongst others to be dented. Hence we paint a picture that is a complete and utter contradiction to what we realy are – a wretched conglomerate of flesh and bones that gives in to our sinful nature daily. And the more comfortable we are with maintaining this addiction to being approved and upheld by peers, the more we’ll be led to taking our devious ways to even more daring situations, such as marital affairs. All it takes though is an honest party to catch us in the act, and the whole house of flimsy cards collapses in a heap.

If Andrew Bolt is so keen to read the Bible word for word, he should consider Paul’s words to the church in Colossae:

“Do not lie to each other” (Colossians 3:9)

Seems pretty black and white to me. Christians share a common bond of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They’re not just neighbours – they’re brothers and sisters who love as Christ loved them. There’s no room for deceit between Christians, as this exhortation proves. So Bolt’s assertion that it’s perfectly permissible to lie to save face with those close to you falls flat on its face. Hopefully he’ll read a bit further and find out that in fact the character trait that he’s advocating is little more than another example of how far the typical sinner has drifted away fron the holiness of his or her Creator.

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