White Lies

While the statistics may shock some, it is pretty well established that most people lie at one time or another.  Some lie intentionally, and others lie without really knowing it.

Of course, we all know lying is bad.  We should tell the truth.  But, not all lies are the same.  Some lies are to protect innocent people.  Some lies are not classified as lies, but are a slight bending of the truth, or telling partial truths.  And then we come to the focus of this posting ….

White lies are those distortions of the truth that we consider to be harmless.  They come in many forms – “Honey, do you think this dress looks good on me?”  “Oh, yes, looks great”, when really you haven’t seen anything quite as ugly in your life.  But, to tell her the truth would hurt.

Now, I’m not going to get into the morality of lies, or white lies, and if there is any distinction between them.  That would be too easy.  No, I’m going to leave that as something each individual must deal with – with their conscience, and with their relationship with God.  Instead, I’m going to deal with the real danger of white lies.

Why white lies?  Because they are deemed harmless, and innocent.  “How are you feeling today?”,  “Oh, I feel fine”, when in reality you hope you can make it through the day.  Your head hurts, your back hurts, you feel nauseous, but, “I feel fine”, sounds like the right thing to say.

So, why are white lies considered ‘dangerous’?  The answer is pretty interesting.  White lies requires that we make judgments concerning which lies are bad, and which ones are ok.  After all, we make the call on whether a lie is a bad thing, or a harmless thing.  But, are we in the best position to make that call?

So, why are white lies considered dangerous?  Here’s a short list:

  1. It requires we classify lies into two categories – 1) bad lies, and 2) ok lies.  We do this even though we are not qualified to do so.
  2. It allows some degree of lying, because after all, it’s a ‘white lie’ because it does no harm.
  3. Lying, of any kind, becomes a habit.  To the point where folks lie, and are not even aware of it.
  4. After opening the door to ‘white lies’ it becomes even easier to extend the line further to include lies of all kinds.  With enough practice, all lies become white lies.

Time and space does not permit me to deal with other related topics, such as stretching or bending the truth, or telling partial truths, or giving misleading statements, or careful manipulation of facts to distort the truth.

While no one would admit to doing any of that, it really is a pretty common thing.  These areas are cousins to the white lie, and have many things in common.  But, perhaps, the most dangerous aspect is that we are called on to draw the line between what is bad, and what is deemed ok, or good.  And, unfortunately, we are not the best qualified to make that judgment.

In the Garden of Eden, Eve had the same issue.  She had to determine if it was better to believe God, or better to believe Satan.  To believe Satan seemed to offer more benefits.  But, Satan was not telling the truth.  Or, it might be better to say, Satan mixed truth with lies, and distorted the truth.  The end result was that Satan’s offer seemed better than what God offered.  Satan offered a way to get around what God had said, or so it appeared.  In the end, rather than take God at His word, Eve chose to determine for herself what was ‘good’, and what was ‘bad’.  In other words, her downfall was directly related to her dismissing what God had said, and choosing for herself what was acceptable and what was not acceptable.  The same holds true for ‘white lies’.  The danger is not in the lie itself, but in its ability to draw us into a position of deciding on our own, what is acceptable, and what is not acceptable.  A position we are not qualified to hold.

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One Response to “White Lies”

  1. Barbara McGuire Says:

    I certainly enjoyed this blog! My husband preached a message one time and talked about this very thing. In it he said, “Show me in the Bible where lies have color!” I’ll never forget that message!! And to me worse than lies are the “half truths”! Unfortunately in this society and the church world today lying is all too common! Every church needs this blog! Well said! Blessings….

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