This morning, before I sat down to write, I took some time to respond to emails. This is a classic pattern of procrastination for me on a writing day. In my inbox was an invitation to an event that I did not want to attend. The host, sensing the RSVPs were coming in a little light, had asked the invitees their reasons for not wanting to come. I crafted a response about how my family already had plans that weekend and how sorry I was to have to miss.
This was a lie. Please don’t miss what I am saying: On the morning I set aside to write a chapter about the truthfulness of God, my first impulse was to misrepresent the truth. I deleted the response and sent one that, while still kindly and minimally worded, was at least honest. But I had to wonder if I would have acknowledged the prompting of my conscience had I not just spent several days researching the psychology of why we lie. How many times do I shade the truth without hesitation, even without any real awareness that I am doing so?
Of all verbal skills, lying comes to us early and easily. Researchers even regard it as a sign of normal cognitive development when it first begins to emerge during toddlerhood. Kind speech takes years to develop. Polite speech takes a thousand repetitions to ingrain in a child. But lying? It’s as if we are born with the seeds of deceptiveness ready to sprout in us at the first signs of vocabulary.
Because, let’s face it, that’s exactly how we’re born. Ever since the Father of Lies slithered into the garden and twisted the truth of the Father of Lights, humans have been speaking with the forked tongue of the Serpent.
Not surprisingly, humanity wasted no time adopting the speech patterns of the one to whom they had succumbed. Adam’s first recorded words after the fall are an untruth. When God asks where he is, Adam responds, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid” (Gen. 3:10). Of course, Adam is not afraid because he is naked. He is afraid because he has transgressed the law of God. When God asks him directly if he has eaten the forbidden fruit, Adam commits further to his deception by playing the victim. “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Gen. 3:12).
Wow, Adam. A simple “Yes” or “No” would suffice. No need to invent an excuse.
And in the midst of my eye roll, I recall the matter of that RSVP I felt the need to embellish. Proverbs 12:22 says, “The Lord abhors a person who lies, but those who deal truthfully are his delight” (NET). Why such strong language directed at liars? Because those created in the image of Perfect Truth should reflect the absolute truthfulness of their Maker.
This article was originally published at ChristianityToday.com. It has been republished with the permission of the author.