Do you know how many lies you tell a week? (I don’t either.)
But according to an article posted at The Atlantic, “the average American tells 11 lies per week.” The reason for such dishonesty varies by person and situation, to be sure. Whether it’s to save money or save face, lying is one way we try to manipulate life to our benefit.
Research shows, however, that we weave these webs of deceit to our own health’s detriment. A study found that participants who consciously tried to lie less than the average experienced “fewer mental health complaints (such as feeling tense) and three fewer physical health complaints (such as headaches) than those who did not.” Considering the amount of mental energy it takes to track and manage the falsehoods we tell, it’s no wonder that the more honest you are, the better you feel.
Tense feelings and headaches aren’t the only negative effects of lying, however. The study also noted that regular lying may alter the way our brains process reality:
When we lie we tend to distort our own view of reality, and the more often we lie, the more habitual this distortion becomes. Over time, the habit of lying divorces us further and further from reality, so we see less and less clearly the choices before us and what is at stake in them. Eventually, we may find ourselves unable to see what we are really doing and how it is affecting others and ourselves. We end up leading inauthentic and irresponsible lives.
Divorced from reality? Dimmed perspective? An inauthentic and irresponsible life? That’s not what we think of when we lie. We think we are merely getting out of a speeding ticket or being an astute negotiator. However, we get much more than that.
And from a Christian perspective, truth-telling is paramount. Habitual lying divorces us from the Ultimate Reality, Jesus Christ, who is the Truth. Christ-followers are to live in Him; to do otherwise blurs our vision and skews our perspective. God’s command is not meant to be burdensome but to keep us in close fellowship.
Once you add up the physical, mental, and spiritual costs, lying doesn’t leave much to be desired.