Posted by: Botolff | January 25, 2009

Lying is easier…but still wrong

Lying is done with words, and also with silence.”Adrienne Rich

The last message that I spoke at the church I got FT’d (forcefully terminated) from, was about surrender and repentance.  One thing I emphasized in the middle of my message was, “Don’t lie.”  I was especially stern about that statement.  I even told the church family that I knew I was being stern.  

One of my professors in my master’s program told our class that the one thing he would punish his children most severely for was dishonesty.  Why?  Because when one is dishonest, it exponentially multiplies the shame and pain for everyone, including the one lying.  Plus it makes it even more difficult to get to the truth in order to help people heal instead of hurt, that is if people even want the truth.  It’s an attempt to maintain control of a life and series of events that were never meant to be controlled.  Some people have spent years perfecting this quiet deception, and it’s hideous on a congregation.

We are people who lie.  There are people who lie through their teeth, and have convinced themselves they are telling the truth.  Others know they are lying but are willing to sacrifice the people they are lying about and to, rather than have to face their own shame.  Some lie because their loyalty to others who are lying is stronger than their loyalty to what is true and loving.  At times they may not even know they are perpetuating other people’s lies, but because of their loyalties, they won’t open themselves up to the truth.  Many lie just because it seems to offer the easiest path, and they don’t concern themselves with the consequences.  Then there are those who lie because they are afraid of being abused, or of sacrificing someone else, if they don’t.  When it comes down to it, lying is primarily an attempt to protect ourselves, and we all do it on one level or another.  But our intentions are what determines just how “innocent” or wicked our lies will be, and the amount of damage they will cause. 

Why is there already so much posting about lying?  Because it is a central theme of the termination process for many FT’d ministers.  Until we can acknowledge that some people in Christian leadership positions can and do lie, including our friends/parents/pastors/or peers, it will be nearly impossible to address this epidemic.  How many times have we heard people say, in the wake of a “heinous” crime, that they didn’t know their neighbor was “that kind of man/woman/child.”  Part of the problem is that we don’t want to believe they could be, especially of Christians.  Often it’s because we don’t want to see the darkness in our own hearts.  At other times, it’s because the faith system that we have created for ourselves, doesn’t leave room for reality.  The reality is, some Christian people steal money from their employers, some Christian people sexually harrass people at work, some Christian dog owners send Fido over to crap in the neighbor’s yard because they hate their neighbor, and some Christians in Christian leadership lie.  And outside of Fido’s crap, lying Christian leadership may be the most prevalent and hardest to deal with, because there aren’t the same kinds of safety nets set for accountability in Christian ministries as their are in the “secular” world.  And until the lies can be exposed and dealt with, there seems to be very little movement towards health.

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