Would I lie to you?


Let’s say you invited me to a dinner party and I had no intention of going. Odds are I’d say, “I’ll try to make it.” You’d get enough food and refreshments to include me.

Not lying is a good practice in general, and it’s a key principle in many religions. One of the five Buddhist precepts is to “refrain from false speech.” Ephesians 4:15 counsels to speak “the truth in love.”

Ironically, many think they are lying to maintain kindness and harmony — pretending to like the neighbour you hate; keeping family secrets; and just generally avoiding awkward situations and hard truths. But this is a fake harmony based on pretending past problems and differences don’t exist, depriving us of the possibility of deeper union.

I was raised by a mother who, with good intentions, explained her Byzantine structure of white lie rules to me so I would understand how to be a polite member of society. She meant well but from a very early age I found this disturbing. Something inside me knew it was wrong. Something inside me believed Truth was always best.

And yet, I lied. Not big fat lies for personal gain; not my mother’s “niceness.” My lies were based in fear — fear that without them you wouldn’t like me, or find me attractive or interesting; that you wouldn’t include me or respect me.


Radical Honesty (Phil Fox Rose / Patheos)