When We Lie

Lying, Liar, Lies

If mere humans may have things abominable to them, mine is lying. I hate it in nearly all forms: commercial advertising and political propaganda, of course, as well as even when people doing good things feel compelled to pretend they are flawless: that the rotten thing they just did is required by that good thing they’re doing, for instance, or that they didn’t do the rotten thing at all.

There is no I don’t know which is worse there, because it doesn’t matter. Both are lies.

Alas, there are children in this house, and also we grown-ups in it occasionally venture into the world of other putative adults, which are to say that we get a lot of lies.

And it’s still strange to me in many cases, especially the times involving children — because there are usually multiple systems both human and the mechanical in place to catch them. I mean what the hell are they thinking?

Well, that’s half right. Hell’s involved, but they probably aren’t thinking, at least not well. Internet filters are watching, as are adults — slightly less reliable than software, but far more experienced at being human, which means we were kids, which means we know what the hell they’re thinking.

Still, it’s encouraging that they’re not thinking, as is the foreignity of the falsehood. It’s good when it’s strange because it means we retain hope — modicum … smidge … whatever. There is yet faith.

*

Only two things can happen when we lie. One is we get away with it. One is we don’t.

If we don’t, we may suffer consequences. To take again the example of kids, they often get punished more for disobedience also involving deception. They are less like to be trusted each successive time. If they don’t stop, they will be come dishonest bastards. There’s a lot of downside.

If we do ‘get away with it’ we also suffer. We think we don’t because we get what we wanted — the sweet slake of sin — and there may even be little or no quick or immediate response. It might take a few days for the lie to come to light, or parents have grown too weary to do any real good, or, if it’s been a long slog of subterfuge, both. But even in the worst case, where the least good is done, the parents know, and God knows.

That is to say, the liar has slimed the one or two human people in his life who care the most about him, who want the most for him, who will be one of his only sanctuaries when the world lies back at him, not to mention the one God who is even more of each of those things. So really we never get away with it. God knows. This is said to carry no weight in the world these days. But many people who say so are also known to … lie.

And then there is that pesky Natural Law, which says the truth will out.

One of my favorite speakers is Dr. John Mark Reynolds. He is also a philosopher, theologian, and university provost, but I like him most and know him best for his speaking. Once he asked an audience why, if forces of evil ever overthrow the government of the United States, why he asked us, is that effort destined to fail, those forces destined to fall?

We guessed and guessed and guessed, our flailings focused around troop strengths and covert intrigues and other men-and-chariots concepts.

No, he said. It will fail because it’s false.

Bam, as some of the kids used to say.

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly.

The truth will out. Lies fail.

If you’re five years old, the slime squirms out from between your crossed fingers in less than the time it took you to gather it up into them. If you’re twenty-five, an adult say, you may get a little longer. If you have an army, the Soviet Union say, the lie might last nearly a century.

Woo Woo.

Of course John Mark is also a father, and a grown-up operating in the big good world, so he sees a lot of lies. Prolly has engaged in it himself a time or two. Men doing good things you see, are not unflawed.

Whatever we may claim.

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