After listening to the political news and reading some very popular blogs over the weekend I have determined that I need to go back and look at the Biblical injunction against lying. The 8th commandment concept of “putting the best construction on everything”, or “explaining things in the kindest possible way could be construed as a way of lying without really denying the truth. The 8th commandment is one of the real conversation starters in confirmation classes. It seems that lying to or about one another is a popular past time among young persons. It is a great generator of “drama”.
There seem to be gradations of lying that are troubling. Telling a part of a story can be a form of lying.
I was surprised to see that in the King James version of the Bible, “lie” is only mentioned about 115 times and of course sometimes that means to “lie”, like when Jacob laid down with only a rock for a pillow, a condition brought about by lying by the way. If you look at the word falsehood and permutations the numbers get crazy.
We understand that lying is a part of original sin and David in the Psalm cries in despair that all men are liars which is the truth. That statement causes some consternation.
The paradox was once discussed by St. Jerome in a sermon:
“I said in my alarm, ‘Every man is a liar!’ “(Psalm 116). Is David telling the truth or is he lying? If it is true that every man is a liar, and David’s statement, “Every man is a liar” is true, then David also is lying; he, too, is a man. But if he, too, is lying, his statement: “Every man is a liar,” consequently is not true. Whatever way you turn the proposition, the conclusion is a contradiction. Since David himself is a man, it follows that he also is lying; but if he is lying because every man is a liar, his lying is of a different sort.”
There was an old joke that said you could tell when so and so was lying because his lips were moving. That may not be so funny. A lie can be perpetrated by not saying anything as well.