"It's no big deal."
"No one would care."
"I'm only protecting him/ her."
"It's not hurting anyone or anything."
"No one needs to know about that."
"It's just a little fib. At least I am not killing people."
These are the rationalizations that echo in our minds and hearts when we make the decision to tell a lie.
I understand that no one wants to hurt someone's feelings when they ask, "Do these pants look good on me?" But, this is not what I am talking about. I am talking about a good (bad) old-fashioned lie.
As a parent, I am having to deal with this subject. Just this week, I had a "family meeting" with my kids after I was informed about a conversation my youngest son had at a friend's house. Essentially, he and his friend were talking about lying. I am not sure exactly how it came up, but my son said something to the effect of, "I don't tell lies very often...but when I do, I get away with it." He's still trying to pry his size 4 Reebok out of his mouth.
If that wasn't bad enough, he went on to justify these fibs by saying that lying "isn't that big of a sin." He said there are much worse things he could be doing than lying...almost as if he's doing us a FAVOR by "only" lying! Deep breath.
I wasn't present when he had this conversation, but it was relayed to my wife, who in turn filled me in. The string of emotions I felt ranged from disappointment to anger to disbelief to sadness. And, while my initial tendency was to get upset with him, more than anything else this discovery led me to think more deeply of my role as a parent.
One morning this week, I drove my son to school, and I brought up this not-so-fun subject. I explained to him what I had heard, and he pretty much admitted what he said. I asked him if he said that lying wasn't that big of a sin, and he also admitted that to me. Instead of body-slamming him and screaming to the top of my lungs, I decided to use this as a teachable moment. I told him that "sin is sin," and that ALL sin is wrong, and it makes our hearts yucky.
I proceeded to say that while sin is sin, that the consequences of our sins depend on the violation (I used more 4th-grade friendly words for him). Lying is a sin. Murder is a sin. Adultery is a sin. Idol worship is a sin. The penalty for my transgression will vary greatly from situation to situation. But, while on the surface lying may seem like a "small sin," it has the potential to be just as devastating as any other.
I told my little boy that developing a pattern of lying behavior is not a road he wants to travel. I asked him what can happen when he lies, and gets away with it. He had some great answers! First, his friends and teachers could label him as "the kids who lies." Second, he could begin to lie more and more. Third, he would have to humble himself and apologize and ask for forgiveness. Next, he would lose credibility with the people who matter to him the most. Finally, he would lose privileges.
Obviously, the list could go on and on, but I think my little buddy got the point. And, while the topic of sin and lying is never a fun one to deal with, I must say that having these frank conversations with my family has truly been a highlight of my week.
My eyes need to be opened to what my kids are facing. And, they also need to be opened to my role and responsibilities as a parent - to love and train my kids to not just believe in Jesus, but to be like him.