Has Lying Become Acceptable In Today's Culture?
I have never met a person who enjoys being lied to, yet it happens to all of us. Even in a Christ-centered culture, lying occurs, although it is frowned on and deemed unacceptable as a violation of the Ninth Commandment. Lying is something to repent of and atone for. But in a Godless culture, lying is not just common it is expected, tolerated, and, in some instances, even deemed acceptable.
In today’s culture people lie about their age, profession, income taxes, marital status, golf scores, grades, health, intentions, schedules, education, work experience, finances, and a host of other factors. Lying on resumes, for example, has become so common employers are forced to conduct time-consuming, costly background checks on job applicants to separate fact from fiction.
In a Godless culture, lying becomes a way of life. Even a well-intended lie is a lie. For example, how often have you answered “nothing” when asked, “What’s wrong?” How often have you felt bad physically or emotionally and yet answered “I’m fine” when asked, “Are you OK?” If you do not want to talk about what is bothering you or how you feel, an honest answer to the first question would be, “I am dealing with a difficult problem, but would rather not discuss it now.” An honest answer to the second question would be, “I don’t feel well, but would rather not discuss it right now.” To say nothing is wrong when, in fact, something is wrong or to say “I’m fine” when, in fact, you are not fine is lying. The lie may be well intended but it’s still a lie nonetheless.
Another example of a commonly told lie occurs when you bump into an old friend or colleague you haven’t seen in a while and say, “It’s great to see you—I’ll call you so we can get together sometime.” In reality, you don’t intend to call your friend or get together in the future. The promise was just a way to end the conversation comfortably so you could get on with more pressing matters. If you had no intention of calling the individual in question, a more honest way to end the conversation would have been, “It was nice to see you again. I hope all goes well for you.”
How widespread is lying in America? Researcher, Brandon Gaille, has studied this question and found the following:
By the age of four, 90 percent of children have learned to lie.
Americans tell an average of 11 lies a week.
In a 10-minute conversation, American adults tell an average of three lies.
13 percent of patients admit they lie to their physician.
30 percent of Americans lie about diet and exercise.
American men tell six lies a day to their partner, boss, or colleagues.
American women tell three lies a day to their partner, boss, or colleagues.
70 percent of liars admit they would tell the same lies again.
If you find these statistics disturbing, you should. Lying has become a canker on American society, an unfortunate but imbedded aspect of the culture. America has become a country in which lying is so common in many cases it is accepted or, at the very least, tolerated. When lying becomes common practice people just assume they are being lied to. As a result, trust in people, organizations, authority figures, and a nation’s institutions is undermined. When people cannot trust each other or the organizations and institutions they depend on, society begins to break down.
Why Do People Lie?
People lie for a number of reasons, most of them understandable but all of them wrong. The reasons people give most frequently for lying are as follows
To avoid embarrassment.
To avoid guilt.
To avoid confrontation or conflict.
To get their way or to prevail in an argument.
To avoid hurting someone else’s feelings.
To make themselves look better.
To convince others to do what they want them to (think of the proverbial used-car sales representative)
What You Can Do About Lying
The most important thing you can do to help prevent lying is set a consistent example of telling the truth in all situations. You may have heard it said the truth hurts. It can at times. This is why, as Christians, we should speak the truth in love. However, in the long run a hard truth won’t hurt as much as a lie. If you know someone who intentionally lies for self-serving reasons, quote Proverbs 19:9 to them: “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.” Said another way, lies eventually reveal themselves and, when they do, the liar pays a price.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com