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Dr. James L. Snyder
I’m not a proponent of lying. I don't like it when people lie. If they lie once, how do you know they're not lying again?
Lately, I've been thinking about what the definition of a lie really is. Is there some time when telling a lie is the best to do? And, is every lie a non-truth?
The reason I've been having these thoughts is that I just celebrated my birthday. It always sneaks up on me, and I'm not sure why because it happens every year.
It was like when I was in school, we always had a test on Friday, and it always surprised me that the teacher had a test.
So my birthday this year was somewhat of a surprise because I was so busy doing other things I forgot about it. Having a birthday every year can be a little monotonous.
One good thing about my birthday is that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage's birthday is two days after mine. And so, if she remembers my birthday, then I will automatically remember hers. I love it when a plan comes together.
Through the years, I wrestled with a certain problem. Do I really know my birthday exactly? Do I know the exact day, the exact month, the exact year?
The reason I say this is because my parents are the ones that fed me this personal information. And to be honest, they have not always been truthful with me, I’m sorry to say.
For instance, it took me a long time to realize that Santa Claus was not real. All those years my parents told me that Santa Claus was real and that he was going to bring my presents if I was a good boy. I believed and trusted them.
I still remember the day when I discovered that Santa Claus was not real. When I accosted my parents with this new information, they simply explained it by saying, "Son, we were trying to make your life better and give you something to hope for." Then they would smile and asked me if I liked my Christmas present.
So, if a lie produces good results, it’s okay?
Then there was the Easter Bunny. Every year we would celebrate the Easter Bunny and collect the eggs scattered all through the yard. I was quite fascinated with the Easter Bunny to such an extent that I raised bunnies.
Then the day came when I realized that the Easter Bunny did not exist.
Again, I accosted my parents with this new information that I had, and they explained it by saying, "Son, we just wanted you to have something fun to look forward to."
So, a lie is okay if it ends up with somebody having fun!
As I got older, my favorite was the Tooth Fairy. For every tooth that I could pull, I would get $0.25 under my pillow that night. Whenever I had a loose tooth, I got very excited and began planning what to do with the $0.25.
My parents were very excited when they saw how excited I was with a loose tooth, and my father helped pull it out for me. Then, when I went to bed, I slipped it under my pillow with the eager anticipation that there would be $0.25 under my pillow in the morning.
Every morning there was that $0.25, and I grabbed it, ran down to the kitchen and showed my mother and father what the Tooth Fairy had brought me that night.
One afternoon, I was looking for something in my parent’s bedroom, and I happen to come across a little box full of teeth. They seemed somewhat familiar; in fact, I realized they were my teeth.
Again, I accosted my parents and said, “Why are my teeth in this little box?”
Nervously, my mother and father looked at each other, and then my dad said, "I'm not sure. Maybe the Tooth Fairy dropped it by mistake.” Then both my mother and father would laugh and remind me of that $0.25.
So, were my parents truthful in telling me when my birthday is?
I say all of this to try to understand when it is appropriate to lie.
On my birthday, several people were asking me, "How old are you today?" Then they would laugh.
So taking some clues from my parents, it might be appropriate for me to spin some lies so everybody is happy and enjoying themselves.
As I was blowing out the birthday cake candles, I said, "I'm not sure how old I am, but I feel like 27." Then everybody would laugh.
Someone said, “What has been your best birthday party?”
I had some in mind, but I said, “The one I’m having with you guys right now.” And everybody laughed.
I spun a few other lies I will not mention now and then looked around at the group, and everybody was having a good time. Based on my parent’s example, if people are having a good time, it's okay to lie.
Feeling a little guilty about the day, I happened to read what David said, “Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies” (Psalm 40:4).
As old as I am, I ought to know that nothing good comes from a lie. My birthday resolution this year is, "I shall lie not, no matter what.”
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-216-3025 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.