Don’t. Lie.

When he received an honorary degree at the University of Aberdeen this past summer, my friend Stanley Hauerwas gave what may be the shortest commencement address on record.  He said, in about five minutes, “Do not lie.”

Jesus said that he was not only the way and the life but also the truth.  Christians don’t lie.  We don’t lie because lying is the death of human community, or it’s impossible to be with one another in relationship when there is a pattern of lying. We don’t lie because it’s our job to show that Jesus Christ makes possible lives of truth in a world of lies. 

Years ago, Sissela Bok wrote a great book that I keep on my shelves and read repeatedly:  Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life.   She has a great study of the damage that lies work when they are told by doctors and lawyers.  Lying denies people the truth they need to make good decisions.  Bok says that lying is never, ever, permissible.  As a pastor, I heard Bok say that when I say, “I didn’t tell them the truth because I’m such a nice person and I’m trying to protect them,” is deceit of the worst sort.  

Stanley told the graduates of Aberdeen that which should be preached to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Donald Trump, Ivanka, Shawn Spicer and all the others in the Trump administration whom we now know, from a truthful federal prosecutor, are liars:

I….hope you will demand that our life together be forged by the desire to live truthful lives.  Lies make our lives ugly, robbing us of our ability even to trust ourselves.  As graduates of the University of Aberdeen…you’ve been put on the path to being at home in truth.  That is no small thing. Never take it for granted.  To live in the truth will give you a life which may be difficult but one that will make possible your ability to look back and want no other life than you have lived.   As my friend, Sam Wells, suggests the only things that in our lives will last are those things that embody the truth.  So a well-lived life will not be determined by how thick a person’s CV may be, but rather those aspects of one’s life that abide in the truth. 

So again I say to you, “Do not lie.”

When he lied about his past, his adultery, his business, his commitments, his faith, I confess that I said, “Well, what do you expect?  He’s Trump.”  But at some point the lying became ugly and I saw the damage it was doing to America’s moral fiber.  Why, looking at Huckabee Sanders and Trump do I think of Matthew 15:19?  “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”  Check, check, Trump and his family, and administration.

I work with young people.  It is so important to tell our youth the simple truth that in the present political moment is a truth that has obtained new importance: Don’t lie.  Don’t lie.

 

—Will

 

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3 thoughts on “Don’t. Lie.

  1. Reblogged this on Jitterbugging for Jesus and commented:
    Longtime followers of the blog here are plenty aware that I’ve been distressed out of my bucket at times by the low moral standards so many Americans, especially Christians, have come to accept from the leader of the free world.

    I’m especially distressed when it comes to lying and deception being perfectly acceptable because that wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing Donald J. Trump is so awesome that candidate Trump promised to “protect God for you.”

    As if God needs protection from from anybody, much less a man with the morals of a rabid wolf.

    The retired United Methodist Bishop Will Willimon and his spiritual soul mate the moral theologian Stanley Hauerwas have been universally admired and respected forever because of their uncompromising commitment to speaking the truth till the truth hurts. Like Jesus, their commitment speaking the truth at all costs has also won them a lot of bitter criticism. They have always been more than up to the challenge of answering their critics with yet more plainspoken truth.

    These two old-timers will carry the torch for the truth, and for The Truth, until their dying days.

    So I’m reblogging Brother Willimon’s latest blog post about Hauerwas’s speech if only to remind myself that as an ordained minister called by God to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted that it’s a must that I call out the lies and deceptions of the big man who was supposed to be so much better and more honest that woman “Lyin’ Hillary.”

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    • t appears that Trump was correct about lying Hillary and crooked Hillary. By the admission of DNC Chairwoman, Donna Brazile, she rigged the election against Bernie. There Is blatant bias in this blog. One side gets a pass.

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  2. President Trump is, at times a buffoon, however, It appears that Hillary did lie and, by accounts of the DNC Chairwoman, did rig the election. Bill Clinton set a new nadir in modern politics when he stated, “I did not have sex with that woman Ms Lewinsky.” Where is the outrange for this?

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