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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
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Te’o case a lesson in lying


In recent weeks, the sports world has been rocked by the revelation that Notre Dame football player and Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o’s deceased girlfriend never existed.

For those not familiar with the story, T’eo won the hearts of college football fans when he led the Fighting Irish to a 20–3 win against Michigan State just days after the loss of both his grandmother and his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua.

We watched an emotional Te’o tell of how he would fall asleep listening to Kekua breathe on the other end of the telephone line as she lay in her hospital bed fighting a battle against leukemia. We were inspired by the strength and commitment of a young man who continued to press on toward his goals in the face of such tragic loss.

Unfortunately, after the release of an investigative report by the sports website Deadspin, we now know that Lennay Kekua’s life and death were a complete fabrication.

There is no way for me to know whether or not Te’o was a perpetrator or victim of this terrible hoax, but one thing I do know for certain is that someone, somewhere lied.

I think we can all honestly say that we have not been involved in such a profound and complicated deception such as this; but, unfortunately any lie, even the so-called “little white lie,” is a sin in the eyes of God.

Proverbs 6:16–19 says, “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift to run to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among the brethren.”

Did you notice that God mentions lying twice in the list of things that He hates? He also includes it in a list with sins that we would consider horrific—including murder.

The reality is that, unlike God, we have come to accept lies and lying in our society. Our politicians lie to us and we are not even surprised; in fact, we have come to expect it. The covers of our magazines lie to us by showing us airbrushed images of unattainable perfection. We cannot even expect honesty from our heroes anymore, as evidenced by Lance Armstrong’s recent revelations.

Numbers 32:23 tells us that our “sin will find us out”—a truth that aptly describes the sin of lying. We all know that one lie tends to lead to another, and another, and then another until we are trapped by our own tangled web of deception.

Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 4:25 to “speak truth with [our] neighbor, for we are members of one another.”

Christians and followers of God must commit to be truthful in all circumstances, not just because it is pleasing to God, but because to do otherwise would damage our testimony for Christ.

I believe the two main reasons that we lie are to protect ourselves from the consequence of some other sin we have committed or to protect those around us from hurtful truth.

By embracing humility and trusting in God, we can confidently be honest in all circumstances even when we are faced with a negative outcome.

When we are worried about hurting the feelings of others, we can remember Colossians 4:6, which tells us, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each other.”

In everyday terms, we are to be tactful in the way that we answer those we love.

Since God is the God of truth and love, by staying close to Him and asking Him to give us the strength, we will be able to keep our commitment to always “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Heather Ablondi is a women’s ministry speaker and author who resides in Fredericksburg. You can contact her through her website,