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Little White Lies

  • Dr. Les Parrott for the eHarmony Research Library
  • 2003 26 Jun
Little White Lies

"An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips."  - Proverbs 24:26

Did you know the word "kiss" comes from a prehistoric syllable that is believed to be the sound of kissing? However the word originated and whoever named it really doesn't matter. People just like kissing. 

And why shouldn't they? Kisses, according to a Danish saying, are the messengers of love.

No wonder then that Solomon, in all his wisdom, equaled a kiss on the lips to an honest answer. Love cannot last without honesty. Our honest answers create trust, the very bedrock of a relationship.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "The sound of a kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer." In many ways, an honest answer rings as loudly in a relationship as does a kiss. 

Unfortunately, many people in the throes of a new and wonderful relationship forget that the opposite is also true. Even a small dishonesty can set a pattern and lose the trust that a solid relationship must be built upon.

Yet every couple tells little white lies to one another in an attempt to be more loving. If we don't like our loved one's cooking, for example, we might say, "Oh, it's wonderful." A little white lie won't hurt our relationship, will it?


Consider "Ron" and "Cindy," who had been dating for only a few weeks when he cooked his famous barbecue ribs for her on his brand new grill in the backyard. As they were eating, Ron asked Cindy if she liked the ribs. 

Cindy knew Ron had worked hard to make them and was afraid that she would offend him if she were honest.

"Oh yes," she told Ron. "They're great!"

Believing that Cindy really liked his famous dish, Ron began barbecuing quite regularly, and there were always leftovers that had to be eaten. After a while, Cindy could bear it no longer; in a moment of anger about something else, she confessed that his barbecued ribs made her gag, and she never wanted to see him cook them again!

Ron was shocked and hurt. She had lied to him.

"How can I ever believe you again?" he asked.

Should Cindy have told Ron right from the beginning that his ribs made her "gag?" 

Well, not in those words. Not if she cared about their relationship. Honesty does not require brutality. 

Truth is brutal only when it is a partial truth or when it is meant to cause pain. To be both honest and loving, she could have said something with a little more kindness.

"Not really, I've never liked barbecue on the grill-but I love seeing you cook."

The tragedy of most small deceptions is that they mushroom, ultimately creating a cloud of distrust that hovers over a relationship. Surely that's what was on King Solomon's mind when he wrote this proverb. So take his advice and, whenever possible, kiss your special someone on the lips with honesty.

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