Q: What is the ninth commandment?
A: The ninth commandment is: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
The ninth commandment can be a tricky one. Various forms of lying are often integral to our society and social norms. Even little kids, if they give it some thought, can find lots of gray areas. Do white lies count? How about half-truths? What about fiction and stories? What about politicians lying, or lying for the sake of an argument? What about branding or statements of affirmation? Ironically, thinking about lying generates a lot of “what ifs.”
It may have been a while since you’ve considered these seriously, and I urge you to do so before I compose my own comments. It’s always okay to tell your own kids, “You know what, I’m not sure myself. Let me think about it some more.” Or, even better, “Let’s think about it together.”
Here’s two links to podcast episodes that focus on lying from various neuroscience, social science, and philosophical vantage points. You’d probably want to listen in on these on your own (sans kids), at least at first.
IDEAS producer Nicola Luksic looks at our instinct to lie, why we do it, how we teach children to do the same — and why it can sometimes be a good thing.
[CBC Ideas] Born to Lie Audio
Everyone agrees that lying is, generally, a bad thing to do. But it’s actually quite hard to figure out what’s wrong with it! In this IDEAS Classic from 2002, philosophers Michael Blake, Samantha Brennan, Arthur Ripstein and IDEAS host Paul Kennedy tell us the truth about lying.
[CBC Ideas] The Truth About Lying Audio
I think you’ll find a good introduction to the Biblical perspective as you go through the catechism discussion questions in Training Hearts, Teaching Minds, but I’ll toss in my two cents next week.