Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Sorry for the delay this week. I meant to start something else but life events last week caused another reflection. It’s by far the weightiest subject for me because it seems so exacting and yet complex. So I ask your mercy on this blog writing. It was difficult to tackle and create a flow. This is my final draft and I hope it provides some insight and benefit.

Truth for me shines a light on how much we come up morally short. Although, I don’t advocate full disclosure to everyone you meet or expressing every thought on your mind. That licence is saved for 5 year old children and older individuals. Lucky dogs!:-)

What I am talking about is the range from a white lie to deception to an outright lie or of course bearing false witness. The other area I’ll touch is when you use the truth like a weapon, where the underlying purpose is to cause harm and not to help.

We can think of incredible circumstances that seem to justify the use of an outright lie. I pointed out an example of a holocaust story in a morality lecture in my adult group at church. What about the Catholic family hiding a Jewish person in their home, and a Nazi knocks on your door and asks if you are hiding a Jew? The responses I heard were interesting. One was--You don’t have to lie but just withhold the truth. In other words don't respond. Another was--say you only have friends in your home. You are treating them as a friend so in a sense they are. These are subtlety's for sure, but the point is still to deceive. The motivation here though seems noble, and all the while trying to skirt a bold faced lie.

This brings us to the white lie. Who can fault a husband who answers no to his wife’s question--Do I look fat? If he thinks she has put on a few pounds or something makes her look heavier he says opposite. This seems innocent and saves grief.

Surely the majority of our deceptions, lies or withholding information is not motivated by saving someone else literally or their feelings. It is motivated by purely selfish reasons. Whether it is to save ourselves from embarrassment, make ourselves appear more attractive, wealthy, smart, in the know etc. or save our job or win a game, earn more money or just hide a platonic opposite sex relationship from a spouse who may be uncomfortable with it. The possibilities seem endless don’t they? I’m sure we can pose a very persuasive argument for why the chosen deception/lie was appropriate and even good.

On the other hand we can use the truth as a weapon, express criticism or at least make a joke.I hate your blog or you write terribly would be a couple of examples:-) Certainly if you ask a question it is best to be prepared for the answer! The hurtful truth, however, can help us to improve. A well meaning white lie may mire us in mediocrity and may create a false bond with the white liar.

Deceptions can be interpersonal and institutional. An interpersonal example is a man/woman you have been dating for a couple of months answers your question of when was your last significant relationship by saying that he/she was involved in a relationship about a year ago for about a year. After things don't work out between you two, you uncover that that year long relationship ended while he/she was dating you. An institutional example is a bishop under oath at a trial says he can’t recall if he was aware that a priest he transferred had several molestation charges against him when he transferred him. The letter presented as evidence seemed to indicate otherwise.

The truth is deception hurts. Our deception can damage a relationship often worse than the truth itself. Oftentimes the deception comes out much later and the damage is more severe. Its almost as if the lie grows in its capacity to erode trust as time passes. Certainly our consciences will not be at peace with lies.

If we all live a life with appropriately and sometimes habitually chosen deception, we makes it easier to lie in general. Here we create our individual and collective reality and erode trust. This is arguably one of the most vital components in any relationship, familial, friendship, romance, church, state and even in the marketplace.

However, we are human and we make mistakes, sometimes, repeatedly. So what are we to do? Well first, it may help us to change our view of truth. Truth is a great vehicle for making us happy. Our creator designed us this way. So what to do when we slip and deceive? Confess it, repent and make amends somehow. Fear sometimes traps us in a loop by first deceiving and then being to afraid to admit the deception. It's almost as if we are trapped in fear of the consequences and the consequences consequences:-) As painful and unwise as fear tells us the truth is, I pray we don't lose sight of the consequence our Lord told us about...the truth will set you free.


Pursued by Truth said...
July 27, 2010 at 5:05 PM  

Pretty interesting stuff! Thanks for the thought provoking post Ang :)

As usual our Catechism has really great things to say about this subject:

2489 Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.

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