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May 2014

Culture of Deceit

By John Carter

 
When The Carter Report interviews a person for a job, we make it very plain, “We do not willingly or knowingly employ anyone who tells lies.  You can make mistakes, we all do, but there is one thing you cannot do:  you cannot tell lies and work at this Ministry.”
 
Once we interviewed 33 people for the position of accountant.  Now what I am about to tell you happened here in Los Angeles, and it is quite possible that this situation is unique to the Hollywood culture of make believe.  Of the 33 people who applied for the job and submitted resumes, 33 told lies.  Consequently, none were employed.  At the same time, some of the most honest people I have met have been Angelinos.
 
Some years ago, a book was published entitled, “The Day America Told the Truth,” written by James Patterson and Peter Kim.  It was on the New York Times bestseller list, and made a big splash.  It made some shocking revelations.  It maintained that 91% of Americans lie regularly.  A further breakdown of the statistics indicated that:
86% of the people lie to their parents
75% of the people lie to their friends
69% of the people lie to their lovers
61% of the people lie to their bosses
 
Don’t think that Americans are bigger liars than others.  Lying, “to speak falsely,” is not limited to one nation; liars are found around the world, in every situation, in every profession, in every church, in every culture.  Most Americans distrust their government because they believe politicians will tell you anything to get elected.  They expect to be lied to.  Remember the famous denial from the White House, “I did not have sex with that woman?”  Or more recently, “You will be able to keep your doctor?”
 
The Soviets were probably some of the biggest liars of all time.  On one occasion the Politburo was discussing a strategy to convince the Russian people they were the economic leaders of the world.  One new member, a doctrinally pure Communist, raised the objection, “But comrades, this information is false.”  Softly at first, and then growing with increasing abandon the committee members roared with laughter.  Some of them almost fell out of their fat padded chairs. 
 
Have you seen the television series, “House of Cards?”  There are two versions, one set in London and the other in Washington.  The story is about politicians who lie to get to the top.
 
I have met on occasions a few big non-liars.  One big non-liar was Fernando who until retirement worked for The Carter Report.  He was the CD/DVD duplicator, as well as property custodian.  Now we have a policy at The Carter Report that says, “Last person out sets the alarm and locks the building.”  Fernando was as reliable as a legendary Rolex watch, but one day he forgot to lock the building.  BIG PROBLEM.  How do I know?  We found our office, full of valuables, unlocked the next morning.  Fernando simply said, “I’m to blame. I forgot.”  WOW!  Here was an honest, good man.  What do you think most folks would say?  “I didn’t do it.  Not me, for sure!”  As my Mum on occasions said, “Mr. Nobody must have done it.  He must be a very important person because he’s everywhere!”  Did we fire Fernando?  No, we thanked him.
 
Another big non-liar was a pastor and scholar who fell out with church leaders over a date in history.  “Just say,” some said, “that you are wrong and everything will be okay.  You can keep on preaching and teaching.  Just say you are mistaken.”  Now whether my old friend was right or wrong is not the point, theologians and church leaders are not infallible, and there is often room for doubt on matters that don’t affect our salvation.  But my stubborn honest friend said, “No, I can’t do that.  I believe I am right.”  So they fired him, one honest big non-liar, the quintessential non-politician.  What would you have done if you had been told to go back on your convictions, or lose your job?  Integrity is important, and is as rare as hens’ teeth.
 
Why do people tell lies?  There are a myriad of reasons for a multitude of lies, but it all comes down to honesty and what we really are deep inside.  The Bible has a lot to say about liars and lying is one ugly sin that if unconfessed will shut us out of the Kingdom.  John the Revelator laid it on the line when he said all liars would end up in the Lake of Fire.  Strong words indeed!  (See Revelation 22:15)
 
I don’t think there is a worse sin than lying.  It destroys families, friends, marriages, governments, churches, and societies.  Many years ago in the Deep South, a well-known pastor was caught having an affair with a struggling, emotionally dependent member of his flock.  As often happens, the woman was portrayed as a person of loose morals while the popular pastor was seen as the helpless victim.  Instead of honestly confessing his sin to his wife, children, and congregation, the “man of God” engaged in sugar coated prevarication and subterfuge. He eventually lost his family, friends, and church.  All of us need to remember there is a coming Day of Judgment and liars especially should beware.
 
There will always be gullible souls who are so infatuated with a charming liar that they will gladly believe in his world of unreality.  Ask the people who invested with Bernie Madoff.  Like attracts like and many choose to believe that bad is good and good is bad.  Arguing with such people is like whistling to the wind.  It is better to leave them alone.  Truth is not something we can pick or choose, and a heart of wisdom cries out, “Let me be in the company of two or three honest souls than bask in the company of a thousand liars who walk in the light of their own fires.”  (See Isaiah 50:11)
 
It’s so very hard to redeem a serial compulsive liar, because he comes to the place where he believes his own lies.  A religious sinner who believes his own lies and loves his own voice is just one step removed from the Unpardonable Sin.
 
Biblical Christianity teaches us to love God and hate sin.  Pride makes fools of the worldly wise, and a spirit of lying blinds the heart.  Only good old-fashioned Bible reading combined with a contrite spirit breaks the power of sin in the life and opens the gates of Paradise.  There is hope for the worst of sinners, including liars, but only for those who fall at the foot of the cross and ask for mercy.  Only Christ can change the life, and those He changes He first makes penitent.

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