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Telling a Lie: Good or Evil?

Updated on August 3, 2011


Telling a Lie: Good or Evil?

Definition:

Lie (n.)-1. A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood. 2. Something meant to deceive or give the wrong impression. (Source: The American Heritage College Dictionary).

Is it bad to tell a lie? Many of us are familiar with God's Ten Commandments, and one of them is "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." As such a case, still the majority of us, if not all, have told a lie at one point or another. We, as youngsters, were taught by our parents that lying will get us into trouble, and it is always better to tell the truth. But as we get older, we start forming our own opinions about things, and we realize that it is not always "black and white." In spite of our parents' and Sunday School Teachers effort training us to always tell the truth, we go ahead and lie anyway. So, what makes people compelled to tell a lie? Let us examine some of the reasons and their effects:

NEGATIVE Effects:

-Fear of Failure-Cover a person's wrongdoing.

-Fear of Punishment-This is true especially with young people who break the rules (parents' or school's).

-Fear of Abandonment-When a person commits adultery, it is unlikely that the truth will be told about the infidelity (initially, at least, because the truth always comes out) due to the fear of being abandoned, and the possibility of putting everything at stake that an individual have worked hard for all of his life (home/family/love/trust).

-Fear of Authority-Sometimes when parents ask their children to tell a lie for their own benefit, more often than not, children, wanting to please their parents or afraid of being chastised, may be forced into lying.

-Fear of Peer Pressure-Many young people may tell a lie in order to feel accepted by their friends. For instance, when someone sees their friend bullying another person, they may keep quiet about it due to feeling of loyalty to their friendship, and for their friend not to get in trouble with the authorities.

-Fear of a Negative Reaction/Confrontation-Sometimes people choose to lie to their partners or parents due to a fear of an "assumed" negative reaction. For instance, when a person really wants to purchase something expensive such as a piece of jewelry or clothing, he/she might lie about the cost to avoid confrontations or conflicts.

POSITIVE Effects:

-To protect someone else-Lying to protect someone's safety.

-Job/Professionalism calls for it-There are certain times that detectives or physicians withhold information until they are certain of their patients' health or clients' case to ensure proper handling and protect the company's credibility.

-*To gain employment -Give a good impression to an authoritative figure such as an employer to get the job, a person might take the freedom of adding information on their resume.

-To gain someone's trust-Lying to gain someone's trust might sound odd, but sometimes people try to deceive others of their confidence when they are really uncertain or even scared themselves. For instance, when a family man's employment is at stake, he may put on a brave front, in order for his family not to feel anxious or worried. Another situation would be when a person is terminally ill;he/she might hide the truth about being healthy, so as to not cause alarm within the family, .

Notes:

'*'-Lying to make someone look favorable in the eyes of an authoritative figure (employer) may start positive initially, but in the long run, it might still end up with a negative outcome. For instance, when a person have lied about their work experience or related education in order to get employed, this might jeopardize someone's career, and end up being discredited of all of an individual's merits (in spite of an outstanding performance).

Conclusion:

As a Christian, I do believe that lying causes more harm than good. When we try to deceive other people for our own merit, this type of lying ruins personal relationships and can be more destructive than it is beneficial. On the other hand, lying can be beneficial when it has a positive outcome such as protecting someone's safety or ensuring proper handling of a case. Also, we need to understand where the other person is coming from, and why they have resorted to lying. With that said, habitual lying can have devastating results which may lead to flustering confrontations, and eventually irreparable broken relationships. So, is telling a lie good or evil? All I can say is prior to engaging in a lie, be discerning and use good judgment to the best of your ability.

*Additional Notes:

Suggestions or comments are always welcome! If there is anything that I have neglected to mention (either positive or negative effect), please do not hesitate to let me know. I highly value all of my co-hubbers' opinions:-). Thank you for dropping by and taking your time to read this article. Hope you enjoyed it:-)!

By: Caroline G. Vestuto Copyright 2011

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    • CarolineVABC profile imageAUTHOR

      CarolineVABC 

      6 years ago from Castaic

      Hello Cuki!

      You have a very strong point. There are many wrongdoings that are unforgivable to the eyes of the human race. Although if you take a look at my examples, there are no "rape" or "stealing" or "molestation" has been stated. The purpose of this article is to see the "other side of the coin." Why do people lie? Of course, a lie is a lie, and it is wrong, but sometimes, there are certain circumstances why people feel like they need to lie or it was the best thing to do at the moment. For instance, consider a mother who just learned that she has cancer. She had told her husband, but asked him not to tell their teenage children because she does not want them to get upset or worry. In a way, the mother is living a lie because she was not completely honest with her children. With that said, she thinks that it is best for them not to know at this point.

      Also, consider another scenario: A wife asked a husband, "Do I look fat in this dress?" To keep the peace in the family, the husband says, "Of course, not-you look beautiful!" He probably thinks that his wife is beautiful, anyhow; however, at the same time, he did not want to hurt his wife's feelings by telling the truth.

      We are only human, and therefore, we are not perfect. Being said that, I believe that there is nothing wrong with "raising the bar," but sometimes, we need to be more understanding and place ourselves in the other person's shoe. As a Christian, I believe that "telling the truth" is always best, but I also understand why people tend to lie, depending on the situation.

      Thank you for reading and commenting on my article. I highly value other hubbers/writers' opinions. Looking forward to more discussions with you. Take care and God bless!

    • profile image

      Cuki 

      6 years ago

      Telling a lie is definitely bad - for me, it's even more disgusting than stealing, for instance, because it has deeper and nastier effects. Where's humanity going when empathy and trust are lost? Sometimes lies can be justified, sure, just as any other bad act. But when discussing if stealing or child molestation is good or bad you wouldn't compile a list of exceptions, I hope. Is there such thing as "white stealing" or "white rape"? Bad is bad, wrong is wrong - whether or not the Bible or any other book says so.

    • CarolineVABC profile imageAUTHOR

      CarolineVABC 

      6 years ago from Castaic

      Thank you very much, Lita, for dropping by and commenting on my hub. I, completely, agree with you that habitual lying is not a Christian way of dealing with others, and can have an impact on the trust that others place on us. Thus, putting a strain on our relationships.

      I appreciate you voting it up! Take care. God bless you and yours!

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      Telling a lie doesn't do us any good especially if some innocent people get hurt. But telling white lies to save someone from hurt is a welcome move. However, when all is settled, that white lie may be corrected little by little to free us from guilt in the future. It's just my personal opinion.

      Imagine the many faces we will make to project a borrowed truth. Soon those compounded black lies will get us in tangle with our relationship with others who trust us. Habitual lying is a very unChristian way of dealing with others. Thanks, Caroline, for bringing up this interesting subject. Voted up!

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