Monday, August 22, 2005

The Dog Ate My Excuse


The dog ate my homework.

I didn't knowingly take steroids.

I didn't intentionally reveal the name of a covert operative to a member of the media.

Saddam and 9/11 are connected.

It all depends on what your definition of "is" is.

Why do people lie? When our back's up against the wall, and we're placed in one of those "fish or cut bait" moments (let me see what other tired cliches' I can muster before I'm done with this), there's a conscious choice that we all face - that, at the end of the day (last one, promise!) do we go with unadulterated truth, or do we "spin" it to shield us from taking responsibility.

When we look at highly publicized episodes where the "mighty" have had to dance around the truth, there is something strangely entertaining about it. "Whew, better them than me," or, "Wonder how they'll get out of that one?"

I remember well the words of the confessional liturgies of my youth, which included the words
"forgive us, O God, our sins of commission and omission."

I've come to understand this confession a bit differently over the years. Too often, our sins of commission are thought of as those things we intentionally do to another. The sins of omission, those things left undone that we should have had presence of mind to do.

Because we do have what Charles Wesley calls our "bent toward sinning," those sins of commission may also include that intentional choice to bend the truth either toward us if it favors us, or away if we want to avoid the consequences the light of such truths may shine upon us.

Part of the role of "watching over one another in love," it seems to me, is to keep the truth from being bent in any regard whatsoever, and honoring it for what it is. And if the truth indicts us, so be it. But we can't know what grace looks like until we're held accountable for who we are.

The courage it takes to be truthful isn't nearly as great as the courage required to hold someone to the truth, especially when you know they've violated it--and then love them anyway.

No comments: