Friday, February 11, 2005

Weekly homiletical tidbit -- The palliative lie

Lately I've been thinking about how much otherwise honest people will lie when telling the truth runs against being nice. Someone has called this kind of thing a "palliative lie," a statement with the benefit of making the hard facts easier to swallow, but with the disadvantage of being untrue. You know what I'm talking about, and the list is long: "Of course you look pretty in that dress, honey," "I'm fine," "No, I'm not angry."

The palliative lie should probably have no place in the life of a Christian. Lying is the devil's domain (Jn. 8:44). No matter how much we want to be nice, we should be willing to do the hard work of respecting others' feelings without lying to them. For a wonderful, life-changing treatment of honesty in everyday life, see Donaldson and Wamberg's Pinocchio Nation.

One thing is certain: No lie, even sweet little palliative ones, have any place in the pulpit. Preachers of the Word have been entrusted with proclaiming The Truth (Jn 14:6). The gospel doesn't need a cup of sugar to make it go down easier. Let's remember the words of John, the Apostle of Truth: "No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth" (3 Jn. 1:4).


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