The morality of the lie of omission (mentir….”to lie”) and living a lie

Dogged insistence on utter and absolute honesty, not a uniquely Christian assertion, has fascinated me for years. It so fascinates me that I have, in the past, baited unsuspecting people into the topic in order that I could then attempt to turn their reasoning inside out. I have a streak of that tendency in me still, not just on the topic of integrity, but on Christian manosphere topics as well. Those have returned more negatively on the invested acrimony than even a topic as seemingly cut and dry as utter integrity. So, I stopped baiting about those things for the most part.

On purist integrity, not so, I’ve yet to learn my lesson.

I became interested in this topic concurrent with my red pill experience, but not due to any overlap in the two. In other words, my red pill experience had nothing to do with a decision point regarding disclosure, partial or otherwise. It was more that my early forays into mixed company discussions regarding marriage and divorce always included a preponderance of women yammering about things that they considered “deal breakers”. One thing in particular was their insistence that they could not suffer lies and honey did they ever mean it.

Having had some personal experience hearing those claims, when I was in a completely different frame, seeing them in the context of my new red pill perception and the clarity that brought to my view of the events of my life to that point, I knew immediately and unequivocally that their crowing was and is bullshit. But knowing that I could dissect their claims given five minutes of honest discourse with them did little to convince them, and as these things go, the likelihood of anything approaching honest discourse was nil.

So I set out seeking proof. I cast about with silly examples like “honey do I look fat?”. Well, they’d say, that’s different. I’d ask the loaded question, “what about the person who may have had an affair, truly ceased, and went on with their marriage, who if never asked if they had cheated, and never volunteered that they had cheated… that person in violation of their integrity policy?” Absolutely! Universal female response. They lie! No, I explained, they do not lie, to lie is a verb. I was hair splitting.

A woman joined the fray (at Christian Forums) once who had a compelling testimony that supported my side. She had once been asked, by a friend, “if your husband cheated years ago, would you want to know/”. Yes she had vehemently replied. I have to have that information or we are “living a lie”. Turned out, the husband had had an affair, and his guilt was eating him, so he confided in the wife’s  friend and prompted her to ask his wife that question. Given the wife’s response, he confessed to a years old one night stand. Ten years hence the woman’s anguish came through her words on the page as she told she was still married and wounded beyond repair, while prior she had been party to a self described excellent marriage. The confession infected her marriage, rather then cleaning it.

The harpies would have none of that. And it quickly became obvious to me that it wasn’t integrity driving this. It was control, and a sense that some man somewhere would get away with something. Add a small bit of schadenfreude and the vicarious vengeance they craved in the base desire to experience the situation, even anonymously online. Plus, demanding integrity to the molecular level was power. It was a manifestation of that wife as holy spirit urge.

I found biblical precedent for dishonesty for the benefit of others. Do you know that story? Hint, its about King David and an army he allowed to take a resting break.

As unlikely as it is, this tendency to bait with the perils topic of dogged truth telling intersected today with my reading one of my favorite columnists, and his weighing in on the subject. This prompted me to write. I have enjoyed the meanderings of Theodore Dalrymple for many years, at first gobbling up his books, which are compilations of old articles, then seeking out and reading what he has to say about just about everything. And he has something to say about just about everything.

Today, his column was titled, Time Past, and buried in it were stories he recounts and which speak to the virtues of not being absolute regarding disclosure. Its a bit like “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”, but so much more.

He shares two stories that are germane to this topic. One story is about a disemboweled sheep along side of the road in Scotland. Follow the link and read it because it is about this same topic but with a unique twist involving more than the core players. The other story was simpler, and perfect.

Dalrymple’s mother was diagnosed with cancer years ago and had to have surgery. Him being a Dr., she told him that he should get the post op information from the surgeon and tell her everything, no matter what.

My mother said that she wanted nothing hidden from her; she wanted to be told everything, and made me promise that I would hide nothing. She exuded a kind of pride in her own rationality.

After the operation, the surgeon spoke to me. Whether he was franker with me than he would have been with a son who was not a doctor I do not know; but he told me that, while he had excised all the cancerous tissue that he could see macroscopically, histology demonstrated that my mother’s prognosis was very bad. There was an eighty per cent chance of recurrence within a year.

I told the surgeon that my mother had made me promise that I would tell her everything. The surgeon said that, on his estimate of my mother’s character and personality, this would not be a good idea. He advised me against this course of action; and since he was clearly a man of experience and integrity, I took his advice.

she lived another nineteen years without recurrence and relatively free of anxiety about her cancer because the surgeon had ‘cut it all out.’

Dalrymple has an entertaining way with words that makes reading his whole piece well worth the time. And if you haven’t read him before, read some of the other articles posted there as well….maybe grab one of his books. I recommend Our Culture, What’s Left of It, or any of the others will do.

As an added bonus, to the point of my post I will simply add, “what he said”. I dislike people laying out deal breakers about their marriages in general because these represent something more than just what they say. The women or man who, if in the midst of a decent marriage, feels the need to bow up saying that any affair (or whatever) will be a deal breaker is ignorant and prone to misguided sanctimony. The thing will manifest as what it really is, in this case jealousy, and be a rot on the marriage as the purist uses that proclamation to control the other.

On the matter of perfection in integrity it can be even worse, with suspicion leading to testing every utterance that must meet her standards, and once finding a trivial infraction, escalating until communication shuts down.

Be careful to not make weapons of virtues.


4 thoughts on “The morality of the lie of omission (mentir….”to lie”) and living a lie

  1. Pingback: Links #4 and Comments | The Society of Phineas

  2. There are many examples of approved deception in Scripture: Starting with Jacob and Esau–but this one is controversial. People assume that Jacob was being dishonest with malintent. They forget that (1) God prophesied to Rebekah that the elder would serve the younger, and (2) Esau stupidly sold his birthright to Jacob for a meal. Jacob was taking what was rightfully his. He is never criticized anywhere in Scripture for being deceitful in this. Moreover, Isaac was breaking with inheritance laws (oldest son get double portion, not the entire estate) by promising to give Esau the entire estate–on the condition that Esau cook him a meaty meal!

    You also have Rahab protecting the Hebrew spies in Jericho and lying to the government officials of the city. Some theologians have criticized her for this, but why not criticize the spies she was protecting? Spies are in the deception business. She was denoted as righteous for her deceptive acts in Hebrews 11.

    Judges 1:24-26 and Judges 3:15-25. Judges 4-5 (Jael and Sisera). God himself says that he will deceive idolators and unbelievers in Ezekiel 14:4-11 and 2 Thes 2:8-12.

    Food for thought

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