On Lying

Ne 07 ledna 2018

(a comment to the blogpost by Robert O’Callahan)

I think the truthfulness among Christians is overrated. Here, I said it.

OK, before saying anything else, I have to say that being honest is very important, and I know what I am talking about. I had my brush with an addiction, and obviously truth is the first victim of any addiction, so I know that it is extremely important for me to resist any temptation to embellish truth.

However, having said that, I am quite certain that the absolute 100% truthfulness as required by brother O’Callahan is not what God actually asks and that such requirement is just later addition of modern era (?). One fun fact: there is no commandment “Thou shall not lie.” among The Ten Commandments (I am persuaded that “Thou shall not bear false witness” is more about relationships than about plain presentation of facts). Yes, truthfulness is couple of times valued highly by The Scriptures (mostly Proverbs) and lying is being actively discouraged, but that still doesn’t make the truth speaking the most valued quality as it seems sometimes it is presented, it is not even one the cardinal virtues. Two fun examples for consideration.

I grew up in the Communist Czechoslovakia. Yes, it was unnatural culture of fear we lived in, but I would have absolutely no qualms when asked whether our family listened to The Radio Free Europe (for example) to reply with the most angelic face I could muster and question “What is The Radio Free Europe?”.

What I mean is that when presented with a potential secret, we should consider why the information needs to be kept secret, and work on it as long as we are sure we can keep it secret. There are just too many situations, when it is perfectly OK pretending not knowing what was The Radio Free Europe, or when we should pretend not knowing somebody has life-threatening illness, or when somebody’s secret is just not ours to tell. Also, I shouldn’t mention the Seal of the Confessional, should I (which in my opinion applies to any confession, even when I am not member of a denomination which accepts confession as a sacrament)?

The second example is again from my life. Before being a computer programmer, I was a lawyer (graduated from two law schools: one in Prague, one in US). There was absolutely no way I could betray the trust of my clients who entrusted me sometimes with secrets worth millions of crowns (or dollars, if you wish). Of course, if Google was our client, I would with the most innocent smile answer that I had no information about any browser development on their side.

Category: faith Tagged: blogComment conscience theology