Telling the Truth is Not like Horseshoes

From Rev. Eric Carswell, Head Pastor
August 7, 2017

Many of us have heard the aphorism “Close only counts in horseshoes” referring to the idea that a person can score points just by throwing a horseshoe close enough to the throwing target or stake. It doesn’t have to be a ringer or to actually touch the stake.
It is a not uncommon human tendency to functionally operate as though telling the truth works similarly. A person called out for stretching or even directly misrepresenting what really happened may think or even say “Don’t be so picky. What I said was close enough to being the truth.”
For preschool-aged children, coming to recognize the difference between healthy imagination and lying is not easy. It is however an important lesson to learn early.
In my early college years, I was with a group of mostly young adults talking to a published historian of some renown. At some point a remark was made about accuracy not being crucial since we were only talking about past history and the historian responded emphatically that a historian had no business asserting something as happening unless he had strong evidence to support the statement. Nearly 45 years later I remember his eloquent defense of a commitment to telling the truth.
I’ve known someone whom I gathered grew up with a parent regularly saying “Let’s not tell mom what we were doing. Instead say …” This is the kind of repeated experience which encourages regular blurring of the truth to such an extent that what really happened is almost forgotten or becomes unknown to the person.
The Lord is clear about the importance of working on habits of honesty as in the following teaching.

It is not so hard to lead the life of heaven as people think, because it is simply a matter of recognizing, when something attractive comes up that we know is dishonest or unfair, that this is not to be done because it is against the Divine commandments. If we get used to thinking like this, and from this familiarity form a habit, then we are gradually united to heaven. To the extent that we are united to heaven, the higher levels of our minds are opened, and to the extent that they are opened, we see what is dishonest and unfair; and to the extent that we see this, these qualities can be dispelled. It is important to realize, though, that the difficulty of thinking like this and also of resisting evils increases to the extent that we deliberately do evil things–in fact, to that extent we become used to doing them until ultimately we no longer see them. Then we come to love them and to excuse them to gratify our love and to rationalize them with all kinds of self-deceptions and call them permissible and good. (Heaven and Hell 533)

It is a sad state of mind that rationalizes dishonesty and even gets to a point where the misstatement is no longer seen by the person making it. Blessed is the person who from early childhood is encouraged to have a strong sense of what is true and honest.


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