Saturday, May 28, 2011

To Tell the Truth

Fr. Stephen at Glory to God for All Things has a very enlightening post on lying

Bascially he says that we as Christians should not look at lying and similar things from a "moral" perspective.  We should not think of the admonition not to lie as merely "one of those rules" that the Church "tells" us we have to do. 

Instead, lying is really about not telling the Truth.  And, Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Our goal as Christians is to be Truth-tellers. 

Lying, of course, comes from the Evil One and does not really exist.  Think about it.  Lying is telling an untruth--something which, by definition, does not exist.  Satan has been called "the father of lies".  He tries to be the creator of his own world that does not exist. 

Truth, on the other hand, is the ultimate reality.  No matter how things may look to us, Truth exists on an existential level.  That is why we should not lie.  It is not about "God told me and He's going to punish me if I lie."  It is about living in Truth--having God's Kingdom within.  If we persist in living lies while on earth, we will live forever in lies for eternity. The Kingdom of God is now. We must begin to live in the Truth now, while we still have the gift of this life that has been given to us.

Fr. Stephen begins his article with a teaching from Abba Poelman:  Teach your mouth to say what is in your heart. 

As fallible human beings, what is in our hearts is often the lies we tell ourselves and others. What then?  Should we still "say what is in our hearts"?  Yes--in confession! The job, so to speak, of Christians, is to become healed by the Truth.  To do this, we must open our wounds to the Light.  "Speak what is in your heart" to God's representative on earth in the Sacrament of Confession, and your soul will be filled with  Light and gain the strength to carry on in Truth.


Michele said...

there is one exception where i will lie, and do it again and again, if it means saving a life. definitely. here is an example of what i mean: a priest, or nun or laity is in danger of being put to death because they are in a country that does not tolerate chirstianity. i know their where abouts, iam told that if i do not divulge their where abouts, it means certain death or imprisonment for me. would i lie to protect their whereabouts, yes i would. you better believe it. i would do that for any human, christian or not. if it meant saving them from certain death, then yes i would.

Dymphna said...

That's an excellent point, Michele. I think this type of "lying by omission" to save someone's life is not what we are talking about here.

To feel compelled to divulge the whereabouts of someone to a corrupt authority would be to think of telling the truth in moral terms, which Father Stephen says is not what Christianity is all about. said...

I fret about truth vs. lies--either of omission, or implication, etc.--more than is probably healthy. There are lies we tell our kids, which make me squirm. A very trivial example being Santa. But there are others, things that don't matter particularly, but still, I feel uncomfortable about it.

Thank God I've never been in the situation Michele describes. I do think of a story from "The Hiding Place," by Corrie Ten Boom. The Nazis came to their house looking for hidden Jews, and asked Corrie's sister Betsey where they were. She said, "Why, they're under the table, of course." (Which was the truth; the trap door was beneath the table.) But when they pulled the table back, she started laughing, and they were so angry, they thought they were being made fun of, and they just left. Corrie talks about the horror she felt at her sister telling the truth in such a dire situation. It's stuck with me b/c while I can see the faith Betsey displays, my inclination is to react like Corrie. I still don't know what to make of it.

Dymphna said...

Wow. I don't know that I'd have the guts to tell the truth in that situation myself. I think Truth with a capital T goes beyond a situation like that.

Barbara said...

The Church has always taught that we need not divulge the truth to those who have no right to know. The Nazis did not have the right to know where the Jews were. A person could misdirect them with mental reservations and not be sinning. The example of Corrie's sister is great because it shows pure trust in God. I'm sure the Holy Spirit caused the laughter that made the Nazis give up.

evanscove said...

Being honest with oneself... Not always easy! I wonder if we often deceive ourselves more than others. That is, we all (yours truly is no exception) tend toward self-justification, wanting to see the best in ourselves and validate what we do or want to do. It's been said that we tend to judge others by their actions while judging ourselves by our intentions. (Ouch, I felt a pang of guilt...)

And Kathleen raises a good point about lies of "omission." Not just telling something that isn't true, but misleading others by withholding certain details. I recall reading an article about "couple lies"--lies of omission that married couples tell each other. (Or rather, the things they don't tell each other!) Deception through silence...


Dymphna said...

Yes, Barbara. We have an obligation, I would think, to oppose evil regimes such as the Nazis, even if it means lying to *them* to save a life.

Evan, I agree. I've been recently convicted of the harm of lying by omission. I'm afraid it will take many confessions before that is rooted out of me.

Dymphna said...

Yes, Barbara. We have an obligation, I would think, to oppose evil regimes such as the Nazis, even if it means lying to *them* to save a life.

Evan, I agree. I've been recently convicted of the harm of lying by omission. I'm afraid it will take many confessions before that is rooted out of me.

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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