Over dinner my youngest daughter, Jessica, said she has the STAAR English test, a standardized, mandated test in Texas schools. She’s nervous about having to write about some randomly assigned topic in just 45 minutes of time.
Long story short, I agreed to do the same. She quickly picked out a random topic: Should you ALWAYS tell the truth?
I was thinking puppy dogs or butterflies, but she picked a hard one.
— The STAAR test begins. The teacher gives instructions, and then turns the 45-minute hour glass over. Alright class, your test starts, NOW! —
Should you ALWAYS tell the truth?
That’s easy! The straight and simple answer is yes! Absolutely, unequivocally, yes!!
But then after pondering the question a moment, another question arises which is almost the same, but with a whole different tone of voice. Is it always BEST to tell the truth?
Case in point – a father takes his child who wears metal leg braces because she has multiple scleroses to the school Daddy/Daughter Dance. The ten-year old little girl looks from behind her thick glasses up at her hero daddy and asks him, “Daddy, am I a good dancer?”
The truth is, no. She’s not a good dancer. That’s the simple truth. Does he tell her the truth? Not on your life! He looks down at his daughter, who he loves dearly, and tells her she is the most beautiful dancer he’s ever seen. He tells her how he loves the way she can spin and make her fluffy dress go round and round, and how honored he is to take her to the dance!
She knows she’s not the best dancer there. She questions his validation, “But Daddy, I have these braces and it’s hard to keep my balance, and some of the other kids laugh at me. If there was a dance contest, I would be last place. How can I be the best dancer here?”
The father kneels to the dance floor and pulls his precious daughter close. His eyes shine as he sees nothing but an angel with a halo of grace adorning her being. He answers, “Sweetie, to me, you’re not only hands down the best dancer here, you are the most beautiful person in this room!”
Should you ALWAYS tell the truth? Did the father speak truth, or was every word he spoke a lie?
Personally, I think he spoke truth. True answers from feelings and emotions in the heart may not always line up with the facts in the head.
There are also questions people are asked in which the truth puts others in a social predicament. There’s a joke for married men about his wife asking, “Does this dress make me look fat?”
Any man married more than 6 months knows the answer to this question! ”No, no, no, no, no, no, NO it doesn’t!!”
Yet, there’s still a way to tell the truth about this. First, answer very, very carefully. Second, understand the question. It’s not do I look fat? The question is: Do I look pretty? The answer to that question is easy peasy. Absolutely, for to that man, his wife is beautiful!!
What about a man who goes fishing? Should he tell the truth? OK, maybe this is a bad example. But yes, he should tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, about how many fish he caught…
I once went fishing with a man. Several of us caught 63 crappie straight lining out of the boat that afternoon. A week later, I heard the man say we caught right at 100. Sixty-three is a long way from one hundred, especially when it has scales, gills and fins. There is a difference, a big one.
Straight and simple, he lied. He didn’t have to, shouldn’t have, but he did. The old adage, ‘I fish therefore I lie’ doesn’t hold water (no pun intended) to the truth.
But on the other hand, ask any man who fishes a special fishing hole that only he and a few others know about. Ask him where he caught his fish. I, for one, would not answer with a completely straight answer. I mean, how many fish can that one special fishing hole hold? That’s really a secret. So “at the river” may be all the truth you get.
Is it right? Wrong? We should tell the truth! The truth will set you free! But is it necessary to tell the truth, ALWAYS?
Going to the Bible itself, there is a story of a woman who lied, but it was imputed to her as righteousness. Yet, she lied like a dog. How can that be good and righteous?
Her name was Rahab, a prostitute, nonetheless. (Joshua 2) Yet she saved the lives of two Jewish spies who would have died if she had told the truth. She hid the two men in her house, which was on top of the outer wall of Jericho. Soldiers from her city came and said the spies were seen coming into her house. She told the soldiers that the men had indeed been there but had left through the city gate. She even pointed the direction that they went. It was a bold faced lie. She went on to tell the Jericho soldiers that if they hurry, they could probably catch them. They never caught the spies because the spies were hiding in her house.
Ultimately, the two Jewish spies made it out of town because of Rahab’s help. Her city was destroyed soon after, yet Rahab and her family were saved.
She lied. She flat out lied. Yet Rahab, the prostitute, ended up being a family member in the lineage of Jesus Christ Himself.
(The time on this STAAR writing test is ticking. I must hurry.)
Jesus Himself later said, “The truth shall set you free.” The question, therefore, begs itself. How can Rahab lying be put beside what Jesus says about the truth?
It all boils down to right, reason and ultimate purpose. There was a higher, more pressing issue with Rahab, which would be the life of two people over telling the truth. Her intention was not to purposefully lie for her own gratification, avoid consequences for her own actions or promote some temporal, selfish thing. It was to protect two spies who she knew marched on the side of truth.
It’s no different than German soldiers in WWII coming to Cory Ten Boon’s house and demanding to know if she was hiding Jewish people in her house. The Germans were going to take them to slaughter them. If she had told the truth, “Yes, there are 14 people hiding in a secret space between the walls in the upstairs attic”, that would have been wicked, even though what she said was true.
— The teacher stands and clears her throat. “Ugh, umm. Alright class, your 45 minutes are over. Stop writing, turn your papers over and leave them on your desk.” —
My 45 minutes are up too. The paper is turned in….but Jessica’s question lingers.
Should you ALWAYS tell the truth?
ALMOST 100% of the time, yes. Tell the truth! But almost, isn’t always.