PartI: Responsibility to be Truthful
Personalintegrity in relation to truthfulness
Christiansare called to imitate Christ, and being truthful is one of the manyways of demonstrating that someone wishes to lead a life thatreflects the image of Jesus. Human beings have a personalresponsibility to be honest to themselves and other people.Personally, I believe that being truthful and honest about one’sfeelings and other things is the foundation of integrity in the lifeof an individual and the society at large. The aspect of personalresponsibility is derived from the biblical notion that people shouldlearn about the virtues, rules, and moral norms that guide them bystudying the work and the life of Jesus. 5A decision to live by the values that one learns from Jesus providesan opportunity for an individual to develop strong moral principlesthat distinguish women and men of integrity from other members of thesociety. Many people understand the significance as well as thedefinition of the concept of honesty, but they do not know how tolive by it. Truthfulness acts as the basic building block forrelationships between people since it has short-term as well aslong-term consequences to individuals and members of the society thatthey interact with on a daily basis.
Importanceof Truthful Living
Truthfulliving benefits an individual and the society. Being true to oneselfbrings happiness and joy. For example, people who always tell thetruth live in confidence because they are not afraid of being ashamedwhen the reality is discovered in the future.
1.Boulton, Wayne G., Thomas D. Kennedy, and Allen Verhey, eds., FromChrist to the World: Introductory Readings in Christian Ethics (GrandRapids: Eerdmans, 1994), p. 5.
Thiskind of courage is associated with the fact that truth cannot behidden, and it will always be discovered, no matter how long ittakes. Therefore, truthfulness gives a clean conscious to anindividual, which enhances their confidence and happiness.2
Inaddition, a truthful living enhances interpersonal relationships.These associations are mainly based on the concept of trust. Peoplefind it easy to relate with individuals who can be trusted. However,trust can only develop in a relationship when both parties areassured that their association is based on truth. 3
Themodern society struggles to find honest leaders who can be entrustedwith the public resources. Truthful living can provide a viablesolution to this challenge because it fosters the sense of integrity.The relationship between integrity and truthfulness is attributed tothe quality of genuine leadership. People who are able to demonstratethe truthfulness in their personal as well as their professionallives are easily trusted by their juniors and influence them toportray the value of honesty. 4Therefore truthful people are able to influence other members of thesociety in a positive way, which benefits the community in thelong-run.
Challengesthat One Faces as a Result of Truthful Living
Althoughpeople are encouraged to tell the truth as a way of enhancing thestrength of their relationships, there are instances whentruthfulness increases the risk of breaking friendships. Theseinstances motivate people to tell the white lie or conceal the truthin order
2.Boulton, Wayne G., Thomas D. Kennedy, and Allen Verhey, eds., FromChrist to the World: Introductory Readings in Christian Ethics (GrandRapids: Eerdmans, 1994), p. 118.
3.Duggar, Jan, W., “The role of integrity in individual and effectivecorporate leadership”, Journalof Academic and Business Ethics,1, (2015), p.2.
tosave their relationships. 5For example, it is quite challenging for people in a romanticrelationship to tell the truth about their past affairs, especiallythey perceive that such a decision could lead to a break up.
Inaddition, people who have a habit of telling the truth do not getalong well with dishonest colleagues. From the biblical perspective,it is difficult for the darkness and light to be yoked together. Forexample, dishonest employees who engage in corrupt behaviors avoidinteracting with the people who believe in truthfulness because theyfear being reported, while truthful people consider them to beunreliable. 6In essence, being truthful brings the satisfaction that one is livingaccording to the moral standards set by the society as well as theChristian faith, but it comes with a fair share of challenges.
Thispart will provide the analysis of a case in which a pastor wishes toguide a coworker on how to live in the light and tell the truth. Hevisited the area without revealing the fact that he wanted to engagein Christian evangelism, which is considered illegal in the area. Thediscussion is based on theological, moral, and personal issues.
Moralguidance is one of the key determinants of the success of pastors inhelping people believe in Christ and lead a holy life. The idea thathe should observe moral values in their work is based on theassumption that many people look up to them in order to determine howthey should conduct themselves in their daily activities. 7From a theological perspective, the priest in the present case wouldbe expected to inform the coworkers about
5.Duggar, Jan, W., “The role of integrity in individual and effectivecorporate leadership”, Journalof Academic and Business Ethics,1, (2015), p.3.
7.Miles, Rebekah L. ThePastor as Moral Guide(Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999), p. 3.
theimportance of leading a truthful life, irrespective of the prevailingcircumstances. In John Chapter 14: 6, Jesus told his disciples thatHe is the way, the truth, and the life. Consequently, the pastoralguidance should be based on truth and in order to help people lead atruthful life. The pastor should advise the coworker to be true tohimself and always tell the truth to other people, since that is theonly way that he can be able to live in the light.
However,the theological perspective, which is based on the Bible, couldsubject the pastor to a controversy because of his decision toconceal the truth about the actual purpose of visiting the area. Theconcept of “living in the light” is a metaphor that is used toimply that Christians should “live openly”, “act correctly”,and in accordance with the biblical teachings. Concealing the truthmay not be equated to telling a lie, but it indicates a failure tolive in the light. The use of this perspective would deny the pastorthe authority to guide the coworker on how to live in the light.However, he could advise him to always tell the truth, which could beaccomplished by encouraging him to take it as a personalresponsibility.
Theuse of moral perspective in guiding the coworker on how to live inthe light and tell the truth would depend on the ethical theory thatpastor chooses to apply. Pastoral guidance could be based on twomajor theoretical perspectives. First, the pastor could apply theutilitarian perspective and advice the coworker to always considerthe possible outcome of telling the truth or living in the light.This perspective encourages people to consider the consequences oftheir actions and select those that will maximize happiness to themajority of the people. 8The perspective would also allow the pastor to defend his decision toconceal the truth about the purpose of visiting the areas. Forexample, the pastor can explain that a
8.Hollinger, Dennis, Choosingthe Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World(Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), p. 31.
decisionto tell the truth would lead to undesirable consequences, such asunnecessary punishment.
Secondly,the pastor could choose to apply the deontology theory to help thecoworkers consider the decision to live in the light and always tellthe truth as his personal obligation, not just as a Christian, butalso as an honest human being. This view is based on an assumptionthat the duty to be truthful is inherent and it does not depend onthe prevailing circumstances.9However, the application of the principle of “duty” would demeanthe evangelical mission that the pastor wanted to accomplish since hedoes not seem to live as per the standards that he purports to teach.People consider preachers as their moral guide, which implies thatthe coworker is likely to learn more about truthfulness from pastor’sconduct than what he teaches. 10The coworker would expect the priest to demonstrate the values andmoral standards that he intends to impart in other people in his ownlifestyle. Therefore, it would be difficult to separate pastoral frompersonal issues.
Inconclusion, the most suitable way of moving forward towardsredemption in the present case is for pastor to combine moral andtheological perspectives in teaching the coworker. For example,failing to reveal a given truth does not make one a liar, but it canprevent negative consequences. Therefore, an ethical perspective thatis based on consequences can help the pastor enlighten his followerson the right way of redemption without deviating from theologicalprinciples.
9.Ibid, p. 36.
10.Miles, Rebekah L. ThePastor as Moral Guide(Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999), p. 4.
Boulton,Wayne G., Thomas D. Kennedy, and Allen Verhey, eds., FromChrist to the World: Introductory Readings in Christian Ethics(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994).
Duggar,Jan, W., “The role of integrity in individual and effectivecorporate leadership”, Journalof Academic and Business Ethics,1, (2015): 1-7.
Hollinger,Dennis, Choosingthe Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World(Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002).
Miles,Rebekah L. ThePastor as Moral Guide(Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999).