Theodore Dalrymple is the pen name for an English writer and retired prison doctor and psychiatrist named Anthony Daniels. He consistently argues against those who dislike holding individuals responsible for their own actions, and he draws on decades of experience treating criminals and the mentally ill. Daniels has some amazing insight on the debilitating, soul-sickening effects of lies:
“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is…in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.”
When I first read this quote, I was shocked. In a few sentences, Dalrymple had described a large part of my journey to the end of myself. We live in a world that rewards lying, and people are crippled and heartsick and spiritually dead from day after day of telling and receiving lies. The world is being eaten alive by lies.
We claim to discourage lying, and certain lies are against the law (perjury), but that’s just a smokescreen. If you want the approval of man, lies are the only way to go. I can think of countless times when I’ve heard lies told about others out of jealousy or spite, and I nodded along even though I knew it wasn’t true. I’ve lied about other people for the same reasons – and all because I wanted to be loved or admired, or saddest of all, noticed.
I’ve never experienced the daily onslaught of communism or fascism, but I’m well acquainted with the growing sense of despair that manifests after years of compromising myself and those around me with deceit. A thousand different deceits! Some big, but most were small and seemingly harmless. But the effects were very real.
I didn’t like or respect myself. Ultimately, I poisoned myself. And for what? Fair-weather love, fleeting admiration, and sometimes just a curt acknowledgment that I existed. I sold my soul for empty promises and unreality and I reaped the reward in full.
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both an abomination [exceedingly disgusting and hateful] to the Lord.
Proverbs 17:15 AMP
I know well what it is to be “exceedingly disgusting and hateful to the Lord,” and I also know what it is to be forgiven. I didn’t think that I’d ever feel clean again, but the Truth and the Way and the Life came and gave me a whole new spirit, one untouched by the vile sludge that coated and smothered my soul.
I can never say enough about the wonder and glory of the Light of Truth! He is beautiful and loving beyond my limited understanding, and His mercies are ever new.