Telling Lies

Question

My husband “fibs.” It’s mostly over stupid little things such as leaving the cap off the milk. These little lies drive me crazy and I’m having trouble believing him with things. I’ve tried to discuss this with him and it seems to help for a while, but then he reverts to his old behavior. What should I do?

Answer

Honesty is the cornerstone of character and integrity. One of the most important foundational stones for any relationship is the ability to trust who the other person is and the truthfulness of what they tell you. In Luke 16:10, Christ tells us that the person who is faithful in little is faithful also in much. If a person can’t be trusted in little things, they can’t be trusted in big things. Deep levels of love and commitment can’t grow in an environment where you frequently have to doubt the truth of what your beloved tells you.

In Colossians 3:9, we’re told not to lie to each other. What is a lie? Some people choose a very narrow definition. They define lying as being only when you intentionally tell someone something that is totally false. Unfortunately, that’s only a partial definition.

When I modify the truth or present limited aspects of the truth so as to leave someone with an incorrect understanding of what really happened, I have lied. Even when I don’t blatantly tell someone the opposite of what is true but I “only” leave out selected parts of what really happened, if I intentionally mislead them, I have lied to them. Any time I deliberately mislead someone, even if I can rationalize it by saying “It’s nothing important,” I have lied to them.

Some people struggle with justifying, rationalizing, and modifying the truth. They don’t intend to be dishonest and they don’t see themselves as dishonest. It usually starts with “little things,” but over a period of years can lead not only to the deception of others but also the deception of self. After a while, they are rarely aware they are even doing it. We can’t assess the severity of your husband’s problem, but if both you and his mother notice it, and if it’s been a problem since childhood, it may have become so ingrained that he’s not aware of it.

A great starting place is to seek God’s perspective on the issue. You and your husband can get a good concordance or study Bible and look up every reference related to honesty, telling the truth and lying. Before you begin, simply pray and ask God for His perspective and to give both of you wisdom on this issue. Sometimes God can use a significant exposure to truth to get someone’s attention and bring about change.

Ephesians 4:15 tells us that “speaking the truth in love” is a part of growing up and becoming a mature Christian. In verse 25, Paul exhorts us to “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” If your focused Bible study doesn’t effect change, you may need to encourage him to meet with you, his mom, and perhaps your pastor to get an objective and unbiased perspective. There are times when it takes an “intervention” by family and respected friends to get someone’s attention. If he doesn’t allow God’s word and those who love him to help him deal with this problem, it will increasingly impair his spiritual growth, compromise the quality of all of his relationships and marginalize his effectiveness in every dimension of his life.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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