Today, I am continuing the series on, Reading the Bible. I’ve had a break from these posts for a while, but I have a few more random thoughts that I’d like to share. The next few are about different aspects of truth-telling and lies.
How do we take our commitment to truth seriously in situations where our culture expects us to lie?
In job interviews, it’s culturally expected that we present a flattering picture of ourselves and our abilities. We are coached to magnify our strengths and minimize our weaknesses if we hope to secure employment. Is this honest?
Where I live, it’s common to welcome someone with the expression, “How are you?” Yet we don’t expect people to give us a true account of their current physical or mental health. It’s taken as a warm greeting. If we were genuinely asking about someone’s well-being we would more likely say, “Are you okay?”
When we’re met with a how-are-you greeting, are we being dishonest if we say we’re well when we aren’t?
The answer depends on our culture.
Paul teaches us some principals about acceptable behaviour in his culture in regard to women covering their heads (1 Corinthians 11). Some Christian women felt that since they were no longer under the law, they were no longer required to cover their heads, as was the custom of their day. But Paul disagrees, he didn’t want them being countercultural over non-essential issues, such as head covering.
Likewise, we don’t draw attention to ourselves over non-essentials.
Some worry that by telling one cultural lie, that this will become a slippery slope, and we will find ourselves constantly telling lies. There’s no reason for this to be the case. It wasn’t for Jeremiah or David or the Hebrews midwives, all of whom tell a lie, at some point in their lives. If we are seeking God’s wisdom and direction, he will guide us, convict us when we’re wrong and lead us in the path of righteousness.
Some Christians would like a list of exceptions, where it’s acceptable to lie. Yet, it’s not God’s intention, to give us a rule book with conditions. We have to live in close commune with God and rely on his leading. We have to be committed to walking in love and have the best interests of others at heart.