“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” Ex 20 v 16
This Bible verse is about sociology.
Lying signifies a breakdown in a relationship. Speaking things which are not true is about breaching the circle of society; it is about the relationship of trust being destroyed. When we lie we damage the inter-responsibility that people have towards each other. I think the same is true when we keep silent about injustice against innocent people: this includes ourselves. Too often we fall back on the words of Cain to absolve ourselves from any guilt, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Gen 4 v 9. Suddenly it is somebody else’s problem, not ours.
However we choose to look at any given situation we do have some responsibility for each other. God has created the human intellect and He knows that we will learn and discover new things about ourselves and the world. The facts that we learn may be uncomfortable but they are still facts. When faced with new discoveries – about ourselves or others – many people choose to present these facts in a different way; they choose to lie. When Cain killed Abel he knew that he had sinned because God had told him “if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” Gen 4 v 7
Quite clearly it is our individual responsibility to do well, to speak the truth. Lies create more divisions in relationships and break down unity. When we do not have unity we fear the judgement of others. Our individual position as a valuable member of society is no longer assured because we all know that not all manifestations of witnesses will be true ones.
In courts of law there is a requirement to swear or attest that all evidence will be the whole truth. Regardless of this obligation there are still instances where people have been known to be false witnesses. These are actions that will cause injury to others; this may be physical, psychological or social injury. It is all about corrupting the truth to misrepresent, depreciate, and destroy the character and life of others. Lying always hurts somebody.
We are admonished in Luke 6 v 31 “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” And also in Matt 7 v 12 we have the instruction: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” The reverse is also true: we need to treat ourselves with the same high regard that we should treat others.
Therefore we should not lie about ourselves either.
The repression of truth is lying and it too often leads to injury to oneself and others. We are repeatedly cautioned to be a faithful witness. Solomon, in Proverbs 14 v 5 states “A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.”
In Revelation 21 v 8 we are told that “... all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” I’m quite certain that there will not be any liars in heaven. It is up to us, individually, to know the truth and be a true witness to it.
Sociology is a study of how we experience life and how society is organised. It is my belief that if each person refuses to lie firstly to themselves and then to others, that we will have a much better and healthier society. It is my belief that God wants us to care and respect ourselves and also to extend those same attributes of kindness to everyone we meet. Lying is not about taking care of anybody. Lying is always destructive. The truth is healing.