Don’t Make Children Lie

Last night, my husband and I watched, “The Andy Griffith Show,” and it was the one where Opie was having fun pretending to have a black horse named Blackie.  Andy, Opie’s dad, and Barney and Aunt Bea all had fun with this.  Well, Opie goes off into the woods and meets a lineman named, Mr. McBeevee.  Because Andy had played the Blackie game earlier, and well, since Mr. McBeevee is a rather strange name, Andy doesn’t believe Opie when Opie tells him that this is a real man who really gave Opie a hatchet and then a quarter.  When Andy takes Opie out to the woods to meet this Mr. McBeevee guy, Mr. McBeevee just happens to get called away, making Opie look like a big liar.

When Opie and Andy get home, Opie knows he’s in trouble and Andy is prepared to spank Opie.  Andy calmly enters Opie’s room where Opie is clearly downcast and on the verge of tears.  Andy calmly explains that while make believe is fun and ok, there comes a point where it has been taken too far.  Then, Andy gives Opie one final chance to redeem himself and avoid being spanked/hit.  He tells Opie to say, “Mr. McBeevee is just make believe.”  That’s all Opie has to do and he will not get spanked/hit.

At this point in the show I always tear up.  Poor Opie has all this pressure to lie… to tell his dad what he wants to hear.  And he tries quiveringly to obey Andy, but he’s too good of a child to lie.  So he tells Andy that Mr. McBeevee is real and asks Andy, pleadingly, if Andy believes him.  Thankfully, Andy looks into Opie’s wide, teary, pleading eyes and says, “Yes, Son, I believe you.”  The show ends with Andy meeting Mr. McBeevee in the woods.

Every time I watch this show, I can’t help but wonder how many times we force our children to lie in order to avoid being punished?  And how many times children get spanked/hit for actually telling the truth?  Jesus said, “The truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).  Why doesn’t this apply to children when they tell us the truth if it isn’t exactly what we want to hear?  We spend so much time trying to teach children not to lie only to force them to lie in order to avoid pain and punishment.  This is not setting them free.  It is binding them up.

The Bible also tells us to confess our sins to one another in order to be healed (James 5:16).  We make this almost impossible for our children to do when we are punitive towards them.  Despite what many Christian pro-spankers claim, spanking/hitting children does not heal them.  It only produces fear, anger, and resentment in them.  (See my series entitled, “The Effects of Spanking” for more info).

If we want children to tell the truth, we must not punish them for it.  And if we catch them in a lie, we must gently but firmly guide them towards the truth so that they can be set free and healed.  Only true discipleship can accomplish this.  Pain and punishment never will.  Pain makes people hide the truth and learn to use flattery, which God absolutely hates (Proverbs 27:14 & Psalm 5:9).   So, help children to speak the truth and want to constantly seek the truth in order that they may be set free.  And remember, Jesus paid it all.  It is only through His sacrifice on the cross that we may be cleansed from our sins.  Spanking/hitting never will cleanse, heal, or save children from their sins.  “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.  For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:

This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.  I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’

Then he adds:

‘Their sins and lawless acts

I will remember no more.’

And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary” (Hebrews 10:11-18).

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Don’t Make Children Lie by Steph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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  1. Zooey on May 7, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Wonderful post. Thank you so much for it.

    • Steph on May 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      You’re welcome, Zooey. Glad you enjoyed it.

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