Monday, September 13, 2010

Godliness and Lies

I really hate telling lies. It causes a lot of heart-searching at times. I like keeping my conscience clear, but there are times when the truth will have terrible consequences to the recipient.

I was in just such a quandary yesterday when my mother who is a very ‘on fire’ Pentecostal confronted me about my assertion on Facebook (Which it never occurred to me she might see) that I am agnostic.

To her, this is ‘rejecting Christ’ and a repentant murderer is more likely to see the pearly gates than I am. She finds it personally hurtful and I could sense her withdrawal from me. In her faith, you don’t even eat at the same table with filth such as I. I know this because the same issues tore our family apart when I was in my teens and I began to openly question matters of faith.

I could explain that uncertainty is not the same as rejection, but to her, the uncertain are as bound for hell as the evil. She’s just confided in me that she might have terminal cancer, and I’m to go and support her for two weeks during an operation later this month.

She has enough to worry about without having to worry about my immortal soul, and if she spends the entire two weeks attempting my conversion, we will both become frustrated and upset. She needs to trust me now. I’m her support in this difficult time.

So I lied. I spun an enormous and almost unbelievable yarn (Which I’m ashamed to even mention) and managed to convince her that I’m born again enough to be trustworthy. I hated it.

It made me feel sick telling such lies, though I’m not doing it for my comfort but for hers. It would be pointless to debate this with her, and now is the worst possible time to embark on a course that will end in alienation unless I give in – which means a lie sooner or later – as I doubt she’ll convince me of anything I’m not convinced of yet.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I feel awful, even though I’ve rationalized as follows: If a lie is told in order to ensure positive and unselfish ends – if it builds another person up in some way – then its ok to lie. The truth should be told, but only if its constructive.

So why do I still hate myself?

Today’s pic: I’m starting to get to know the camera…


  1. I think it's OK... Holy Rollers like being ignorant to the truth so you actually helped her out. It can be tough though, parents don't realize that your life is your life & not theirs... some times my mom doesn't know when to shut up with her unsolicited advise. I just ignore her since she means well

  2. I fired my conscience years ago and have slept better ever since. Booze also helps.

    I think you did, if not the right thing, the best thing. Putting your mother's concerns ahead of your own was kind even though you could easily say she has created the situation with her rigid beliefs. Now it's up to you whether or not you maintain this ruse for the rest of her life. Maybe you could convince her the Internet is the devil's business and say she should get off it like you did. Then if she encounters you on the web she'll either have to keep quiet about her discoveries or admit she has dabbled in a bit of evil herself.

  3. I think it was personally very kind of you to think of your mother first... Sometimes, white lies must be said in order to protect the ones we love. Don't let your guilt get to you, let your kind heart rule. I looked at it as a very selfless act for the betterment of your mother's well being...

  4. Karl and Grant put it so well. I'm so sorry MM about your Mother's illness. It's horrible. And you've done the right thing.
    In a perfect world our parents accept us for who we are no matter what. It's not a perfect world.
    I'm sorry you must choose to lie to her. It's what I would do too. It's what most anyone with a heart would do. Your decision is one of courage and grace and that is what it says about you-- you have courage and grace.
    You are in my thoughts.

  5. I think you really had no other choice. The only way to keep the relationship with your mother on an even strain was to do what you did. She apparently isn't open to anything else.

  6. To thine own self be true. It's a funny little saying, but I think in this case it's giving you an "out". Be true to yourself, for yourself. And lie through your smiling teeth to your Mum. She's obviously not a strong person at the moment (who would be?) and she needs your strength. Right now, she believes that your strength can only be of use if you're a believer. You know otherwise, but now is not the time to argue the point. Let her enjoy the delusion she's accepted for a few weeks. You can have The Conversation later. Who knows - you may convert her.

  7. I think that the quality of the lie has to be weighed with what the intent of the lie is. If it helps, it may be the best alternative.

  8. Thanks everyone for your support and letting me cry on your shoulders. I try not to use this blog for 'getting things off my chest' too much, and its kind of you all to be so supportive. It really means a lot to me, you have no idea how much! I guess I knew it was the right thing to do, but it FEELS so wrong. Sigh, oh well, life is complicated, isn't it? I really needed you guys, and you came up trumps: all of you!