When I was a child, my mom washed my mouth out with Dial soap. Let me tell you, I don’t recommend it. At least on the receiving end. It wasn’t the brand either. I don’t think Dove would have been an improvement.
It wasn’t for cursing. The typical old school punishment at the time. This time it was for lying. Yes, it happened more than once! I am a slow learner. You see, my mom loathed lies. She still does. And God is right there with her on this. In fact, not lying is the 9th of the 10 Commandments, depending on how you count them. Sure, it uses more legal language (“Don’t bear false witness”), but when you get down to it, it’s one and the same. If that is not convincing enough, the author of Proverbs writes, “There are six things that God hates…a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood…” Proverbs 6:16-17. You will have to read the rest of the passage to get the other four. I don’t know about you, but knowing what God hates seems more than mildly important. But notice, lying comes before murder in that list.
So why do my mom and God have such strong feelings against dishonesty? It comes down to relationship. God yearns for us to be in a healthy relationship with Him and in healthy relationships with each other. And He knows that if we spew falsehoods, it will poison either or both. Lying might keep marriage counselors and divorce attorneys in business, but it is the true intimacy killer. A single lie can dismantle a lifetime of hard-earned trust. So why do we do it?
I think in the case of my “Dial mouthwash” as a kid, I lied to get out of trouble. One of the two biggest reasons we fabricate falsehoods. Unfortunately, we do this way beyond childhood. And we often mislead in order to adjust someone’s perception of us, either to make us look better, or sometimes not to look as bad. Like, “I rarely drink too much,” knowing good and well that we drink to excess every weekend. Although, this might be a case where we are deceiving ourselves, which might be the most toxic lie of them all.
I believe at some level, even if we don’t follow Jesus, we know lying is wrong, if nothing else, because of the harm it causes. So, why then do we give politicians an easy pass when it comes to dishonesty? We make jokes about it like the overplayed “How can you tell a politician is lying? His lips are moving.” We almost expect politicians to lie, as if this should be the chief skillset in their vocation. In no other profession, are we so quick to look the other way. Imagine if we moved to a new city and asked our neighbor if they could recommend a family physician. They reply, “Dr. Johnson is great at diagnosing, but she can’t tell the truth to save her life…or yours for that matter.” (chuckle, chuckle.) I think we would look elsewhere. The same is true for a mechanic, a plumber, or for me, a pastor. We prize honesty in almost all professions, but turn a blind eye to our politicians.
So what am I suggesting? No, not a Dial dental scrub, as tempting at that may be. But stop voting in the worst offenders. Even if they are your preferred party. I realize almost all of them do it, but some have a special affinity to abuse the truth. These are the ones that must go.
What our country needs more than ever are men and women who can speak the truth, even when it’s not in their political favor to do so. As our representatives, they have a unique relationship with us and govern in our name. When they habitually lie, that relationship is fractured in ways similar to that of a husband and a wife. But instead of leading to divorce, their continuous lying divides us as a people and damages our nation. So, instead of a bar of soap, grab a ballot!