Lying is an old pasttime. And many of us have done it quite well.
The ethics of lying, yes, the ethics of lying, are espoused in this book by New York Times writer Randy Cohen. Cohen was interviewed on one of the NPR programs last week and he introduced me to the phrase “Social Lubricant.” Apparently, lying is commendable when it serves as a so-called Social Lubricant, meaning: it avoids certain tensions and hurt feelings. An example would be this: you are at work and you are invited to a function which you don’t want to attend after work hours, but to decline straight away would seem rude. So inventing a little story is acceptable, Cohen says.
The Social Lubricant excuse for lying is quite convenient, and seems purposefully undefined so that we can use that excuse as it seems fit.
This brings me to my life of lying for many years in my marriage, where it was certainly a means of avoiding tension and discord for me to lie to my wife about looking at pornography. Just where does one draw the line with this idea of a Social Lubricant?
Did she need to know? Did i need to come clean? Yes.
Why? Because relationships are damaged by lying, and a secret life itself is a full-fledged deception. Moreover, if we become people who lie, even for what seem to be reasonable purposes, we are not untainted ourselves. Small lies become larger lies. And this has direct implication for men struggling with addiction to pornography.
As i spoke with a man yesterday about this very thing, he recoiled at the thought of coming clean to his loved one. But lies breed more lies and eventually he will need to be honest. We all need to be honest.