Why Children Lie – Part 2

Posted on August 14, 2008 · Posted in Lying, Parenting

   

Now Amnon had a friend named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. He asked Amnon, "Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?"
   Amnon said to him, "I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister."
"Go to bed and pretend to be ill," Jonadab said. "When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’ "
So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, "I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand." II Samuel 13:3-6

Children tend to lie in two types of circumstances. We looked at the first reason in the last post. The response of immediately trying to deny responsibility comes naturally to us and to our children. Children are fearful of the consequences of their sin and lie to avoid them. Christ must be shown as the one who can bring peace to a fearful heart. It is vital that this pattern be addressed quickly and thoroughly. If it is not, then the habit lying will take root and become a means to other ends.

The next progression in lying is to lie when there is something to
be acquired. This type of lie can range from trying to make someone
else look bad to scheming to obtain something that cannot be had in a
way that pleases God. In both situations the reason for the lie is the
same—a self-centered worldview. But in this second type of lie, the
reason for the lie moves beyond mere self-protection to the point of
lying to achieve personal desires, even if it means hurting others.

The ESV and NLT translations use the word crafty to describe Jonadab
in verse 3. The NIV and NASB translations use shrewd to describe him.
Both words provide the picture of a scheming, deliberate liar who is
following a selfish agenda. In this passage Jonadab lies to obtain
favor with a member of the royal family—no doubt an attempt to advance
his own status. Amnon embraces the lie as a means to satisfy his raging
lust. This is why lying is so despicable and dangerous. This sin uses
our own lusts against us. So, you see the progression. This is not
simply lying to avoid punishment. This type of lying bears a close
connection with the ways of darkness (Eph. 2:1-3). This lie represents
a scheming, crafty motivation. If you will, this is deceit reaching
maturity. Often a young child will blurt out a lie that is foolish –
with cookie crumbs all over his face and shirt, your son says, “I
didn’t eat the cookie, Mommy.” The scheming liar, the crafty one, makes
sure his face is clean and the cookie crumbs are on his sister’s shirt
when he lies.

Youthful lusts go hand in hand with this second type of lie. The
world encourages the indulgence of these desires. Teenagers are
unlikely to tell their parents that they want to borrow the car to go
to a party for drugs, drinking and sex. No, the story will more likely
be along the lines of “… a couple of the guys want to go catch a movie
and a pizza. And since Joe has to go back to school tomorrow I’ll be
later than normal, okay? Thanks Dad”! This is what happened with Amnon.
He didn’t care about what God wanted. He didn’t care about his father.
He only cared about what his father could provide for him—in this case
the object of his lust, Tamar. It is short leap from planting crumbs on
your sister’s shirt to attempting to deceive Dad about the car.

Notice that Amnon doesn’t even question whether it is appropriate to
lie. He eagerly buys into Jonadab’s scheme. Amnon is being driven by
his own lusts. When you see this pattern emerge in your children, pray
for courage to acknowledge it for what it is. Self-pity is often at the
base of these lies. Amnon in the throes of self-pity, and lust acts
without hesitation in following Jonadab’s scheme. It is a fatal
decision.
Parents, if your children are sullen or aloof, they are
especially vulnerable to this type of crafty scheming—or to following
the direction of those who will scheme for them. Find out why your
children are sad, withdrawn or sullen. This behavior is not simply a
phase. It indicates a self-centered, troubled heart. With young
children you have the opportunity to address issues of the heart that,
if left alone, can grow to be life-dominating sins. Merely correcting
behavior cannot be the goal here. You must address the heart. Christ
alone can take the focus away from self-centered pity. Psalm 139 speaks
of this reality. Help your children to find comfort in following God
rather than themselves.

If you see this pattern in older children and teenagers, don’t think
you can easily correct it by taking away privileges. There are
deep-seated issues that must be addressed. This is the time to stop,
pray and then begin investing yourself in your children to address
these struggles. Intentionally conceived lies indicate a troubled
heart.

Amnon trusted Jonadab. Why? The narrative makes it clear that
Jonadab was a self-serving conniver. A little later in the story we see
him trying to use Amnon’s death to advance himself with King David.
Amnon trusted Jonadab because Jonadab offered what he wanted. Amnon is
like the simple fool in Proverbs 9:13-18. He is led to the slaughter by
his own lust. Do whatever it takes to find out what is troubling your
child. Be thankful that God helped you to see these lies. Remember that
self-pity is a lie in itself. Self-pity proclaims that God cannot be
trusted, that his Word is hollow and empty. If your older child or
teenager is mired in self-pity he has lost sight of trusting God. He
does not believe that God can help him with whatever is troubling him.
He may be embarrassed or emboldened by his sinful unhappiness. He may
think that being held to Christian standards is short-changing him of
the fun his friends are having. He may be driven to lies and alienated
by pornography. He may be angry that the in-group at church or school
ignores him. It is important to know what is behind the schemes and
deceit. By pointing to Christ, you point your children in the right
direction. Work with them. Lead them toward life that is truly life.

We have one more level to look at in this progression of lying. May
God provide the grace necessary to battle this sin of lying and lead
our children to the rich life of knowing Jesus Christ. I look forward
to your comments.

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