WWJS? “What Would Jesus Spin”

A recent Happily Married After post entitled The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth caught my attention because of a situations I’ve been run into recently where people are engaging in what I call spin. I define spin as selectively relaying facts to favour what you want people to hear and think, rather than what the ‘truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’ would have them hear and think. This “art” has also been called “massaging the truth” or “putting the best face on the truth”. It seems to me that the Bible calls these tactics something else – something rude and judgmental like LYING.

The Happily Married After post, by David Patrick, said: “It’s real important to be completely honest with your spouse. You don’t get to decide what or how much you think they can handle. That’s not your decision to make. Let them decide once you’ve told the whole truth.

I agree completely with David, and I want to look at that in terms of spin. I doubt I am the only husband who has ever spun the facts to his bride. It’s easy to tell ourselves that we are doing them a favour, that we are protecting them from the harsh reality. It’s easy to think that, but it’s usually not the truth. Odds are we are doing it to cover our errors, or to avoid her anger, sadness, frustration and so on. However, no matter why we do it, isn’t it wrong? How can we justify lying to our bride?!

As David has suggested, if it’s not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the (unspun) truth, it’s not the truth. So the question is this, do you have the guts to always tell you bride the truth?

11 Comments on “WWJS? “What Would Jesus Spin”

  1. I learned something that might apply here while I was fighting my ex for custody of my children (She kidnapped them 3 times and hid them from me with distant friends or in a women’s shelter, so she could validate the lies she was spreading about me to destroy my reputation and my name). However, because of Truth, when we first met in court I got initial custody of them. But, I knew that I was going to be scrutinized by those in the court system who still believed her and considered the judge’s decision, ‘a travesty’. And they were not a few. Which meant the worst thing I could do would be to try and ‘coach’ my children into saying the things I would want them to say. Instead, I realized that I had to live my life in such a way that there would never be any problem associated with them talking about the things that went on my home. In other words, I decided that the way I lived would never give them a reason to be anything but honest because I would be living my life righteously.
    That is to say, they would never be put into a position where I would ‘need’ them to lie to cover up something I did.

    From this I learned that lies become necessary only when I am not living my life according to truth and have a desire to continue living unrighteously.
    And that being truthful and honest is considerably easier when I am living my life according to Truth and desire to keep on living my life this way.

    From this I also learned that how others handle Truth and how they react to it, is beyond my ability to control. But, if I have no personal reason to fear Truth, then I am living righteously and have no reason to be scared of any other’s bad reactions and actions when Truth comes out (which it always does because Jehovah is good).

    My then future wife also came to realize these things during her own journey of desire. And so we both brought this desire to live righteously into our marriage so that we could be truthful and honest and intimate with each other, without damage being done because of Truth.
    Was it still ‘easy’? No. Did it still require courage? Yes, because we are still beings of emotion and we all have these peculiar beliefs and axioms in our heart-of-thoughts that trigger negative emotional responses (these are the things we have to discover, through emotion and ‘unlearn’). But, it was certainly a lot easier to do without having the need to cover up and mislead with ‘spin’ and that because of a distrust in each other’s ability to ‘handle it’, or, for that fear of exposure that is brought into play because of misbehavior or indiscretion.

    This is being good, just as we were created to be.

    And when you are good in a marriage, marriage is very, very good. Know what I mean? ;)

  2. While you’ve made the case that lying to your wife is wrong and honesty is good, I don’t feel you’ve made a case that spin is lying. I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, I just don’t see it yet. So I tried to think of an example where one spins the truth but it is not lying. Here’s what I thought of. One often uses spin when trying to persuade someone. For instance, I may tell my kids we will go to their favorite pizza place if they get their rooms cleaned this morning. This is spinning the truth. What I have not told them is that they have no choice in this, I require them to clean their rooms this morning. However, by only telling them part of the truth, I give them the illusion of cleaning the rooms of their own free will in order to get a reward. They are happier to do what I want them to do and learn a lesson about choices even though they never actually had a choice. So I spun the truth, but I don’t think I lied to them. What do you think?

  3. 1GoodMan, personally, I still believe you lied to them. As a parent wouldn’t you want your children to obey you just because you are their parent and you love them, instead of to receive a reward? The lie came in when you made it sound like if they didn’t clean their rooms, there would be no pizza. But the real truth was, as you said, they didn’t have a choice. So just suppose they decided not to clean their rooms, they would probably just feel like they’d loose out on the pizza, but instead find out that they really didn’t have a choice, as you led them to believe. If you do this too much your kids will eventually catch on and you will find yourself the one being “spun” to, and they will have learned it from you.

  4. @1GoodMan – I’d only call that spin if you were going to get pizza regardless – in which case you have lied to them. I have no problem with incentives to get kids to do things, and in that it teaches them cause and effect I think it’s good.

    What I call spin is deceptive. It’s telling parts of the truth in a way that is designed to lead people to think something that is not true. You actually lied, but yo have intentionally moved people to believe something that is not the truth. In my mind if the intended and end result is people believing something that is not true, then what was done is dishonest and wrong.

    Often this is done to make us look better than we are. For example, a widow’s house is in need of repair. I tell her I’d like to give her a few hours of help. She says she will pay me to do a couple of days of help. I tell folks I saw her need, and I went and worked for days to make her home better – and I don’t mention that I got paid. I’ve not lied, but neither have I told the truth. I have tried to make myself look better by intentionally making folks think I volunteered to do days of work, and did it for no pay. The truth, which still seems very good to me, is that I volunteered to do some work, and she paid me to do more. My failure to relay the full truth is a lie – and says something about me and my need to be seen as something more than I am.

    Taking more credit that is due is very tempting, and it’s easy to think “why not”. But in my mind it’s not honesty.

  5. The difficult issue here is what constitutes a sinful lie or deception. I believe God looks at the heart when deciding these issues. Where you trying to deceive and be manipulative? Then it is probably sin. What if my wife asks me if her pants make her butt look big (example only, my wife has a great butt!!)? If I knew that saying yes would crush her spirit then I would be inclined to say no (even if I really thought yes). I personally don’t believe this is a sin because God looks at the heart… The most extreme example would be if a person lived during WWII and a Nazi asked if you were hiding Jews (you were) and you responded “no”. I would hope everybody would say no! This is not a sin because once again God is looking at your heart and motivations.

    • @midwest_husband – You are hitting some of the more difficult point here, but you have covered the heart of what I was saying in your first 4 sentences. Spin is selfish, it’s about making yourself look better than you are, or not as bad as you are.

      As to “white lies” the likes of “does this make my butt look big” – I would like to think that a healthy marriage moves to the point that the truth, the whole and real truth, is what both husband and wife want to hear. When one of them wants to be lied to for their vanity, I think that’s an entirely different problem. I mean I don’t want my bride to spin to save my feelings – I want the truth. Of course there were times and areas of my life where that was not true.

      Is it a sin to lie to save a life? We all want to say no, but can anyone prove that scripturally? Maybe lie is the wrong word to use in that context, I don’t know.

  6. Let’s not forget about speaking the truth in love rather than anger. Speaking the truth to your wife while you’re mad only hurts her. Chances are she won’t be able to deal with the truth spoken in that way. But if you make it clear that you are speaking the truth because you love her and are concerned for her, that’s a different story. You have a much better chance that she will hear you and be able to react in a positive way.

  7. I totally agree with midwest_husband. There’s all sorts of examples of people in the Bible who deceive others in order to serve God’s heart. What about the Hebrew midwives who lied to Pharaoh, telling him they had carried out his order of infanticide. That was a straight up lie, but God knew what was in their hearts.
    It comes back to legalism again. We’re not living in the Old Covenant any more, we don’t have to follow specific rules to the letter to achieve righteousness. It’s what’s inside you now that counts. So perhaps it isn’t always at all times : lying = wrong, truth = right. Thank goodness we have the Spirit to guide us in each and every situation!

    • That just sounds like you’re trying to justify “spinning”. Remember we are talking about “spinning” within marriage, not throughout our entire life. Of course yes lying to protect someone’s life is righteous. But when you lie(spin) to your spouse to either avoid an arguement, the “cold shoulder”, etc. It’s never a good idea. Same with sarcasm in any situation. Not only is sarcasm a form of anger but it also leaves the receiver of the sarcasm guessing what’s true and what’s lying or spinning.

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