In almost every culture there is an understanding that telling lies about people is a bad thing. But in cultures shaped by the Judeo-Christian consensus lying takes on a graver tone of seriousness, because Jesus called himself The Truth, and the 8th commandment says "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour."
The case of Carl Beech
Recent news in the UK bears witness to the devastating effects of lies on those lied about. A 51 year old man by the name of Carl Beech told the police complete and utter fabrications about a number of high profile people, and now that their names have been cleared they and their families have been telling the media their stories.
Here are just two examples of the devastating effect of lies.
Example 1: MP Harvey Proctor
Harvey Proctor, a long serving honourable member of parliament, said that Beech's "false and malicious lies" had caused "ordinary people to revile and despise" him. He accused the police of "misconduct" over their handling of the investigation. Although utterly innocent of the accusations made against him by Beech, Proctor lost his job and lost his reputation. He also lost respect for the police - quite understandably - who believed the false allegations.
That's the problem with lies. Our human nature - fallen as it is - so easily believes the worst. The moment malicious lies are spread, there's no taking them back, the damage has been done.
People will inevitably say "there must have been a little fire with that smoke."
Example 2: Lord Bramall
I took this photo of my TV screen the day Beech was put away. It's my second example - Lord Bramall, an honourable man who says that he was more wounded by Beech's lies than all the scars of a life time of real-time battle!
That is some powerful statement. The conflict of military service did not hurt him as much as the outcome of lies.
"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me" is frankly, baloney!
Anyone who has felt the sting of false allegations will concur with the witness of these two examples. It is a most serious thing to make up and then spread lies about another. God says,"Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD." (Proverbs 12:22) Why? Because lies ultimately come from the pit of hell. Satan was a liar from the beginning and is the father of all lies.
But is the murder of character worth only 18 years? The murder of a body may get much more (possibly); perhaps it's time to give the murder of character the same weight as the murder of a body, for after the murder of character lives can be little more than the living-dead, with suspicions aplenty, mistrust hanging in the air, and in the eyes of some at least, certain guilt.
The suffering of Jesus
One of the most painful aspects of the emotional suffering of the Lord Jesus must have been the lies told about him. His response was full of wisdom - he said nothing. Why? Because to every response would come another barrage of lies. Jesus left justice with God's ultimate tribunal at the end of time, at which he will preside as The Judge.
And we too can leave lies told against us to the last day, when perfect justice will reign.