Discouraging Honesty?

There was a time in America and the western world at large when honesty was both highly valued and strongly encouraged.  A man lived by his word. Handshakes closed most business deals and lying to someone was considered a blot on a man’s honor.  This is, of course, no longer the case. Contracts now stretch hundreds of pages of legal jargon detailing the consequences if a party to the contract should breach it in any way.  Honesty has largely gone the way of chivalry and the dodo bird.  A man is no longer bound simply by his word. In fact, the coin has flipped so far that a recent article in a mainstream publication urged parents to be concerned if their child told them the truth consistently. And for those of you reaching for your glasses, yes you read that correctly. The article actually went further than that. It suggested games and methods parents could use to break their child of the terrible habit of honesty.  I am not going to directly rebut that misguided article here. Instead, I will focus on  demonstrating how crucial honesty is to society and why dishonesty should never be encouraged.

Imagine for a moment that society was full of entirely dishonest people. No one ever told the truth.  Consider the consequences that such dishonesty would have.  There would be a complete breakdown of interpersonal relationships. Relationships are built on trust and openness.  If no one told the truth, trust would evaporate.  No one would trust anyone else. This also would lead to cynicism about others, and a general hostility to others, combined with loneliness due to lack of any caring interaction. That is a highly toxic combination. Further, commerce would be come impossible, at least on a large scale.  Companies rely on their customers and suppliers to be truthful during the buying and selling process.  Consider if a pharmaceutical supply company labeled a steroid as the anti-inflammatory Ibuprofen. The havoc that a steroid could cause if substituted for an over the counter pain reliever and fever reducer would be near catastrophic. Yet it is this dark, lonely, meaningless world that some of the more liberal elements of society seem to yearn for.  By discouraging truthfulness, the progressive eviscerates the moral fabric of our nation and the world at large.

As the above paragraph clearly demonstrates, honesty is critical to the success of a society.   Removing it, removes the cord that holds society together.  However, honesty is more than just a societal fabric. It is a direct command from Scripture. God thought being truthful was very important, so much so that He put it in the Ten Commandments.  Exodus 20:16 tells us “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” Jumping forward to the New Testament, we learn from Christ. that everyone is our neighbor. The parable of the Good Samaritan was meant to illustrate that point. When the lawyer asked Jesus who his neighbor was, the Lord responded with the parable of the good Samaritan. At the end Jesus asked the man who the wounded man’s neighbor was. When the lawyer correctly answered that it was the Samaritan, Jesus commanded him to go and imitate the Samaritan’s example.  This would have been a hard pill to swallow for a Jew that hated Samaritans but Jesus chose Samaritans for an example specifically for that purpose. If a Jew was a Samaritans neighbor, then he was everyone elses neighbor too. Since saying anything false about your neighbor is condemned, saying anything false about everyone is condemned because everyone is everyone’s neighbor. . God knew the damage that dishonesty would cause in society and thus commanded against it.

Dishonesty does more than break up society. It does damage to the individual. Lying increases stress to the brain and on the person. It also increases anxiety. The polygraph machine, better known as the lie detector, works on the principle of detecting the stress caused when a person tells a lie.  This stress was something the Lord foresaw when He made man, and thus commanded man to be truthful.

Why then do people like the author of the article mentioned above advocate for dishonesty? Clearly there are no benefits to society or to the individual involved. Why then would lying be encouraged? The only reason I can decipher, and I have no proof, is that they actually desire a societal break down. There is no other reason to discourage truthfulness.  Christians ought to have no part of this kind of disastrous teaching and should ignore anyone who attempts to propagate it as one who denies the Bible.

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