Step one of this lesson also on video!
Real Life Downloaded | Adult Lesson 11 from David C Cook on Vimeo.
OPENING ACTIVITY: What a Tangled Web We Weave
Write the following on a board or sheet of newsprint, or read it aloud to your students:
Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive! (Sir Walter Scott)
Ask students what this quote is illustrating about lying and how they have seen the truth of it in their lives. One lie can easily lead to another as a person tries to cover up earlier lies by coming up with additional and sometimes greater lies. That may give a person a reputation for not telling the truth.
This week’s article focuses on why people do things that are deceptive and why doing so is a poor choice.
OPENING STORY: [Read the story aloud or make copies and pass them around.]
WHY WE LIE, AND WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA TO DO SO
Deception can be defined as a deliberate attempt to cause someone to believe something that is untrue. Sometimes it is an outward-facing act—something we do to try to deceive another person. Sometimes it is an inward-facing act—a lie we believe about ourselves. Researchers agree about one thing in this respect: we all lie at times even though we know it’s wrong. But why do we lie? And what are the consequences when we do?
To be honest, sometimes we lie because telling the truth can be more harmful than the alternative. If a young woman in a wedding dress waiting to walk down the aisle to her groom asks, “How do I look?” the best answer is usually, “You look beautiful!” even if it isn’t so. And in World War II, when Jews were hidden in the homes of sympathizers, it was best for those sympathizers to lie when asked, “Is anyone hiding in your home?”
Although there might be very limited times when telling a lie is the best option available, often this becomes the preferred option simply because telling the truth is troublesome. And when we choose to be deceptive in order to avoid the consequences of being honest, we can develop a pattern of dishonesty that affects how others view us as well as what we think about ourselves.
Researchers have concluded that we lie because we see some benefit in doing so. Sometimes we lie to avoid the negative consequences of telling the truth. Sometimes we lie so that we can enjoy the benefits of being dishonest. But Tali Sharot, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College in London, noted following a study he did on the issue of deception, “If you give people multiple opportunities to lie for their own benefit, they start with little lies that get bigger and bigger over time.”
The consequences of lying can affect your brain. One study indicated that “dishonesty alters people’s brains, making it easier to tell lies in the future.” It can affect a person’s reputation as well, and that person may become known as someone whose integrity is questionable. It can also be dangerous if people are deceiving themselves about their physical condition, or limitations, or about the potential affects of doing something that is potentially harmful.
Although researchers have confirmed “the power that small falsehoods have to influence bigger lies” and that “when people rationalize and lie in small ways, it affects their whole identity,” they have also concluded that the reverse is true. Jason Whiting, a professor at Brigham Young University who studies deception, conflict, and abuse in relationships, noted that when partners in a relationship are honest with each other, “good things happen. When a spouse resists saying something distorted, they are choosing integrity, and this sends a message to their psyche. They are moving toward the light.”
Have your students form small groups to discuss their answers to these questions.
- What are some ways we practice deception?
- Have you ever lied to protect someone? Explain your answer.
- What are some consequences of being deceptive, even if you are telling “little white lies”?
Looking for Steps 2 & 3?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide; your Step 4 appears below. To purchase a teacher's guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes
THERE ARE NO ‘LITTLE’ LIES!
A lie is a lie, even if done for a good reason. And if we choose to be deceptive, it can lead to more and often greater lies. In addition, if we choose to lie rather than tell the truth, it can affect our relationship with others and with God and how we view ourselves.
There may be times when telling the complete truth about something is not advisable. But being honest is the best and biblical choice, even if the results of doing so are troublesome.
Ask students to return to the groups they had in Step 1 discuss their responses to the following.
- In what ways are you currently deceiving others or yourself? How can you change that situation?
If students are not comfortable sharing the above with others, have them privately consider their response or write it on a notecard. Then close the class by praying for clear conviction in our lives of ways we are being deceptive and for the courage to be honest so that we don’t fall into a pattern of being dishonest.
THE BIBLE IN THE NEWS
Good news from a recent Harvard study about kids raised in church:
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