Monday, January 21, 2013

Truth Be Told

On Friday, my Gospels classes tested over the Sermon on the Mount, the best known teachings of Jesus. As I do every year, as tied in with the Savior's thoughts, I made this point:
The truth is simple, lying is complicated.

Amazingly, the sports' headlines last week made my case for me. The two biggest stories in the athletic world both had to do with deception. First was the one many saw coming for years; Lance Armstrong and his use of procedures and medications banned by the cycling world. (It was the subject of one of the funniest headlines I've ever seen on a website;
Liar, Liar: Lance On Fire!) And then, last Wednesday, the story broke about Notre Dame football star and Heisman Trophy runner up Manti Te'o and the hoax surrounding his girlfriend who became a national story when she died in September even though she never existed. The Te'o circus, as bizarre a news story as anyone can remember, has simply exploded in five days. Both Armstrong and Te'o have taken extraordinary steps to explain their sagas. Armstrong confessed in a two part exclusive to Oprah and Te'o will answer questions from Katie Couric. Remember the good old days when sports were about.....sports?

As I talked with the kids, and in several classes had them write their thoughts, it became obvious that many of them believe that everyone is dishonest to some extent and that lying is acceptable under certain circumstances. I challenged them with several scenarios and the operative phrase they countered with was it depends. I warned them that this is a very slippery slope and I asked how they can ever believe anything anyone says if they believe we all lie? For the most part, they play the percentages: if someone usually tells the truth , they are more likely to believe them. (Also, if they like them.) Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that, 
The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

It certainly stands to reason that lying is the most common sin, even for Christians, and yet Jesus put no modifiers on telling the truth, like it's OK to lie if someone's feelings would be hurt. I can tell you this: in all the years of my attending worship services and Bible studies, I've only witnessed one of us confessing to the congregation that they had been lying. Maybe it's so prevalent  that we think there is some sort of blanket amnesty awarded from heaven.

I think I realized how much little lies are tempting while I did my student teaching in Bald Knob, Arkansas. Kids would ask me questions of no consequence in the outcome of humanity, like What's the leading export of Chile? and without thinking , I'd reply, Copper. No real damage, right? And yet, with the inborn tendency of children to put their trust in authority figures, teachers have a huge responsibility to never mislead the ones in their charge. I showed the clip at the top of the page to all my classes and they laughed but they got the point: in politics, those in the spotlight say what sells and not necessarily what is true. (I hope you'll take a minute to watch the clip from the movie, The Adjustment Bureau!) Jesus taught that when we get past yes and no, our speech can be influenced by the Evil One. He also says Satan's native language is lying. We need to make sure the devil is not speaking through us. He's already supplied with a multitude of spokesmen.

Applicable quote of the day, # 1:
In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.

Applicable quote of the day, # 1:
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1 comment:

David Michael said...

"This is not even my tie." Great thoughts!