We Prefer People Lie Rather than Be Honest

As Christians I think we’ve adopted a sliding scale of honesty. We look at situations in the news, with the IRS or other scandalous stories and we want to know the truth. We pound our fists and demand truth. The truth is supposed to win. The truth is supposed to set us free.

But in the Church, I am not sure we’re comfortable with people being truthful.

Authenticity has become a buzz word in Christianity over the past several years. We want to be authentic. We have a list of socially acceptable sins that as we feel comfortable confessing.

Most of the time the sins we don’t lie about are more behaviors than heart issues: we are too busy, we aren’t having a consistent quiet time, we lost our temper, we need to be more disciplined. We feel better because we confessed something and others perceive us as authentic.

But what about deep core issues? What about heart issues and sexual brokenness and inner thoughts and dark parts of our soul? Do we really feel comfortable with people being honest about things that we try so hard to pretend like we don’t struggle with?

Here are three reasons why I think we prefer people lie to us than be honest:

1. We like sanitized Christianity more than messy Christianity. 

We want people to believe that Jesus fixes everything. If we’re honest about our struggles, sins and mistakes then what does that do to our faith and what does it say about Jesus? Isn’t it better to pretend we’re all put together so that people think Christianity is this “once and done” decision that you make and the rest of your life you live in freedom? Messy Christianity may confuse people. We prefer the sanitized version of people over the messy version, because that appears to be more Christ-like, even though it’s fake.

2. We see the honesty of others and it confronts the dishonesty in us. 

I’ve been in conversations with people at times and they bare their soul and are completely vulnerable with me. God has used their total honesty to confront dishonesty in me that I have grown comfortable living with. When someone is transparent, it is like they hold up a mirror to us and we are able to see ourselves in relationship to the pure truth that is being shared. Judgmentalism rises from knowing the truth in others but living in denial about about the truth of ourselves.

3. We’re more comfortable with the fake versions of others.

Knowing someones hurts, fears, wounds, struggles and sins requires more of me than knowing the fake version of them. I like my perception you. I don’t like knowing your baggage or your past or your mistakes. Knowledge is responsibility. If I know the real you, then I have a responsibility to you that is greater than if I just superficially knew you. I don’t have time for that (remember I confessed to you how busy I am). We’d almost prefer others be fake with us so we can continue being fake with them.

My prayer for us is that we have the courage not just to say we want to be authentic, but to embrace the cost of authenticity. 


4 Responses to We Prefer People Lie Rather than Be Honest

  1. michelle lobdell

    I moved the the South, (Knoxville) from the Northwest a little over a year ago. I have attended several non-denominational evangelical churches in the West over a period of 19 years. I moved to Knoxville after attending a dynamic and growing, alive in the spirit Calvary Chapel for five years. We were a “messy” bunch, and the pastor encouraged “messy” people to attend through a very focused effort of non-judgmental outreach and teaching. He was a non-apologetic; straight-from-the-Bible, former wild man, drinker and he** raiser preacher; joyfully saved from a dark past that he frequently brought up in his teachings. I only lay out this ground work to highlight my experience here.

    The majority of the women I have met here practice what I would call “churchianity”. They were all “saved” as children. Their families are Christian, going back generations. They know the lingo, do the charity work, look after the children, attend the booths at the church bazaars and bake for the bake sales. They have known each other and attended the same church for decades. What I have learned is that I am far too “messy” and entirely too “real” for most of the women I have met here in the “buckle” of the Bible belt. I attempted to make friends by jumping into Bible studies at the local Baptist church, but one day in discussion group when the ladies were asked to mention a specific sin, one piped up by saying “walking into a bar”, (sounds like the lead in to a joke, I know), and my jaw dropped in astonishment. There were many other comments made during the course of the three studies I took over 9 months that dropped my jaw and affronted the Spirit in me, including a session where the ladies wrote down and counted the “brownie points” for all of their good deeds and volunteering. (I brought up the Pharisee’s and their “perfection” that day, as well as the “our righteousness is as filthy rags” scripture – if looks could have killed, I would be dead). The lack of humility was nauseating. Finally I couldn’t take any more, especially after one SUPER Christian group “leader” made a very snide, hurtful remark to me. The self-righteousness was so thick I could have cut it with a knife.

    One of the ladies from the study did decide to become my “friend”. God has really led me to examine and defend my faith because of her, (both good thing). She is easily affronted by my frankness about my struggles, my faith, my failures, my humility and my professed and lived strength in Christ. I always quote Jesus’ and scripture to support my positions. (the quote from Animal Farm comes to mind – “in a time of universal deceit, speaking the truth is a revolutionary act”) However, being “real” is very risky in a place where everyone is “perfect”. Jesus’ words to the Pharisees often jump into my mind. Yes, yes, yes; we need more Truth!! Especially from Christians! Jesus certainly never parsed words. I have been chastised and ostracized for not “speaking the Truth in love” when I spoke truth and it was not welcomed. I have been told I am a “sandpaper Christian”. Since when did loving someone mean making sure they are never confronted about behavior or attitudes, or only saying words that make them “feel” good? I am NOT mean spirited; my heart is burdened with the knowledge of how my Lord’s teachings, which are meant to draw in, set free and uplift, are twisted to damn and condemn in a way not in keeping with the conviction of the Spirit. It seems to me that satan has prevailed in making sure that “not judging”; which is supposed to be saved for motivations and the heart; has been twisted to apply to actions, involving “tolerance” (good) or “intolerance” (bad), with the “good” Christian eagerly jumping on the bandwagon of “non-judgmentalism”. Not surprising satan’s first successful attempt to lead man away from God was by twisting God’s word. He is still good at it and still very successful.

    My point is, thank you for shining light on this and please continue to do so. I think there is a lot more that could be said on the subject; the “fakeness” you speak of has deep sinful roots in the church and like a cancer, it needs to be surgically and thoroughly removed. It is the root of the “hypocrytical Christian” stereotype that has so hurt the church and given her enemies and critics so much ammunition against her and against “Christians” in general. I have been tempted many times to “fit in” in order to be liked; being “sandpaper” does not make me popular or feel good; but I will not do it, with God’s help. I ask God every day for the continued courage of my conviction to speak Truth, as well as His revealing of my personal character flaws to me and others so that the disinfectant of the Light of the World can sanctify me. I seek out like minded Christians for fellowship. I am not perfect; far from it, but in Christ I continue to live my messy life every day, knowing that “He who began a good work in me (sic) will see it to the day of completion in Christ Jesus”. I pray daily that the Church will be revived; that God’s people will be humbled and stop looking at their filthy rags for a righteousness that can only be found in Christ Jesus. God Bless you both; thank you for what you do and for speaking the Truth in love. I will keep you in prayer.

  2. The Marriage Bed

    Dude, now you’re meddling! (Way to be.)

  3. Justin, thank you for bringing this very necessary topic to the table. I’ve been encountering a rub with some Christians lately…new people to their walk with Christ, as well as people who have been on their journey quite longer than even myself…and the rub deals with “being so busy.” Or them finding other “reasons”…errm, excuses…to seek ways to avoid connection with me. Why? I have been seeking to understand, but here’s what this post brought to light just now to me: in the past year, I have had a chance to be open with these people, to be me with them…and not long after my openness with them about my messiness in life, they sought anyway possible to distance themselves from me. Some even to the point when I say hello to them in Church on Sundays, I get the, “Hi…bye! Oh so busy!” gig.

    I even have been getting some very interesting “reasons” from seasoned ministry leaders I’ve been in connection with through small group about their reasonings for not connecting beyond Church walls and small group with me (ie: social media, or even coffee). They all sound so wonderful on the surface, but I’ve never bought any of the reasons.

    It comes down to this, I have no problem connecting with people and sharing in brevity my messiness. I don’t overload people, but evidently my messy Christian life rubs them in such a way, it places them in a space of discomfort. I am not saying I am better than them, or they are lesser than me…all I am merely pointing out is what has been spoken here: the seeking a “pristine Christian life” connection with others where everything looks sparkly, shiny and pretty versus the messy stuffy that has more meaning behind it and connects hearts. The former doesn’t call out vulnerability or growth for anyone, and the latter does.

    The former doesn’t foster any true relationship building blocks, while the latter does. In really processing this through my mind and heart right now, it’s evident not everyone is supposed to perhaps be in everyone’s space…but it needn’t mean we are to make walls out of what should be very distinct boundaries.

    Through this processing now, though, I only wonder…in noticing all this now, how do I work through this disconnect with others (beyond merely prayer for them and myself) that they seek to have with me simply because I am myself with them (messy and all) and it makes them uncomfortable, yet they seek to keep me beyond an arm’s length…even seasoned ministry leaders?