Can you lie without speaking?

18 04 2007

Can you lie without speaking?  Consider this excerpt from Daily Encounter for April 18, 2007 by Dick Innes :

I don’t have to talk to lie. I can do it through my body language and facial expressions. I can lie by smiling or being saccharine sweet when I’m angry, by laughing when I’m hurting or sad, by being aggressive when I’m afraid, and so on. I can lie just through my tone of voice, or by pretending that I’m feeling or thinking something that I’m not.

Friends who don’t speak the truth cannot be trusted. You can’t feel safe or comfortable in their company. You’ll never know where they stand or where you stand with them.

As the Apostle Paul encouraged us: “We will lovingly follow the truth at all times — speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly — and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the head of the body.” (see Ephesians 4:15, TLB)

Do you consider it lying if you pretend to have different emotions than you really have?  As with any debate of this type, let’s start with the definition, so we’re on the same page.  I found two definitions of “lying” (in this context) :

1. To present false information with the intention of deceiving.
2. To convey a false image or impression.

According to the definitions, lying is much more than just saying something that’s not true.

I realize there’s numerous rationalizations for not representing yourself accurately, but the question is, is it morally wrong to intentionally give the wrong impression?  According to God, it is a sin.  In Leviticus 19:11 He said, “Do not deceive one another.”  That’s very straightforward and clear.

God convicted me of this a long time ago, because I used to be good at talking “around” a subject to the point that I didn’t answer someone’s question yet gave the impression that I did.  And so technically I wasn’t lying, according to how I defined it then.  But God showed me that it was still wrong, so I had to change.

It’s not always convenient to be honest, and sometimes it may get us in more immediate trouble than giving a false impression, but it’s always the right thing to do.  God is keeping a record of all we say and do, and we will have to give an account for it someday.

By the way, this doesn’t mean we have to say everything we think and feel.  We should still use tact and carefully choose our words.  But we don’t want to mislead someone.

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