Notable and Quotable

Q. What’s the one essential quality to a successful relationship that most people overlook?

A. Honesty. I find singles are too forgiving of people who lie to them. They think they won’t lie the next time. But liars tend to be liars.

–Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founder of, in the February 2008 Reader’s Digest, page 41

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology

12 comments on “Notable and Quotable

  1. DonGander says:

    I do find that interesting.

    Would one make a business partnership with one who lies and cheats?

    Would one worship at a church where the leadership or pastor lies and cheats?

    Would we attend a school where the teachers lie and cheat?

    Generally, the answer is “No” to all of those, yet, people today seem espescially attracted to those who lie and cheat. The result is totaly predictable.

  2. Jon says:

    Obviously I imagine we all totally agree with the guy that honesty is incredibly important in a relationship; and that moreover people often see a person lying in one place and assume it won’t happen to them later on. Most notable are cases where someone starts a relationship with someone who is already married — they don’t seem to realize that if the guy can cheat on his current wife, and justify it in the name of love, why would you assume he won’t do that to you down the road when YOU are the wife?

    That said, the thing that struck me most about this blurb is how much of the world there is in it; how much the doctor being quoted is alien to to the Christian idea of forgiveness. His understanding of forgiveness is that it is something you do only when you are sure the thing can’t happen again. The idea of 70×7 is completely outside his perception. The idea of grace, of a Love and a Mercy showered especially on those who deserve it least, on recidivist criminals bound in sin, is completely outside his conception. Forgiveness is instead for him an investment in a stock you are certain is going to go up.

  3. Dallasite says:

    John, perhaps we should forgive, but I think the Dr.’s point was that one should avoid entering into a relationship in which the need for forgiveness is bound to play such a big role.

  4. Philip Snyder says:

    Forgiveness presumes repentence. The person must turn from his or her lie and ask to be forgiven.

    Often lying is tied to some other addictive behavior. I know men who are completely honest and trustworthy about money, sex, responsibilities (such as the children) or almost anything else. But, they lie to their wives about what they eat or if they’ve been drinking or gambling or whatever. Their wives trust them on everything, except where the addictive behavior is involved where the trust level is zero (but can be earned back with a lot of work).

    So, the issue isn’t forgiveness, but honesty and reality and being honest with yourself and with the other person about behaviors and expectations. Going into a relationship with a person who lies repeatedly with the idea that you can change them or that they will stop if they love you or that this is just a “phase” is not being honest with yourself or with the other person. Going into the relationship with your eyes open and the knowledge that the other person has some serious issue to deal with and you are willing to put up with it because you love and forgive that person is much more honest.

    Phil Snyder

  5. Brent B says:

    Jesus telling us to forgive somebody 70 x 7 times, and the observation that people who lie (sin) will likely lie (sin) again seem to me to be very consistent in their assessment of human nature.

    Perhaps we too quickly jump to conclusions about what the man quoted believes, based on what he was not quoted as saying.

  6. Jon says:

    #3…. yep, you are right that he does mean that we should think twice before marrying a liar — it’ll buy us a lot of grief later on and so on. Naturally I agree with that, which I said.

    But it’s also clear that his understanding of “forgiveness” is very different from the New Testament’s understanding. Or else he wouldn’t have used that language. I can’t imagine saying what he did myself, for example. I might have said “I find singles are too naive about people who lie to them” or “I find that singles are too trusting about people they know have lied to them.” But it would really raise a big red flag in myself if I ever found myself telling someone that they should be less forgiving.

  7. Adam 12 says:

    E-harmony’s recent ads seem to emphasize filling out the form honestly…giving the impression, perhaps, that many aren’t…

  8. Richard Yale says:

    Neil Warren is a Christian, serving for many years as a professor of psychology at Fuller Seminary. I see nothing in this to suggest that he is not operating from a position devoid of grace. In fact, there is tremendous wisdom in it. I’m am sure he would not say that if your partner lies to you you should withhold forgiveness. But if lying is part of a pattern it reveals a character flaw that will dog that relationship for many a year. I have seen several relationships run aground on just such a problem.

  9. Jon says:

    #8… hey Richard. It sounds like you may know Neil personally. In which case I’m definitely sorry I said something critical of him.

    Again, I totally agree about its a bad idea to marry somebody who’s got a problem with lying. We’re all agreed on that.

    My only concern was someone (apparently) suggesting that it’s possible to be too forgiving of persons. That’s just not a phrase I would have used. Say people can be too naive, or too trusting. Say that a pattern of denial may lead to too much grief down the pike in your marriage. But forgiveness itself: we can’t have too much of that. In my opinion.

  10. Philip Snyder says:

    I think the problem is the word used, not the attitude behind it. I believe what Dr. Warren is referring to is not Christian Forgiveness where there is repentance, reconciliation, and amendment of life, but rather society’s “pseudo-forgiveness” where we say: “Not a problem” or “It’s OK” or some other platitude that is patently a lie itself.

    I believe that Dr. Warren selected the wrong word to communicate his idea. I agree that we cannot be “too forgiving” in the Christian sense, but we can be too dismissive of real issues and trouble in the secular sense.

    Phil Snyder

  11. BillS says:

    Schori lied on her resume, claiming to be dean of a non existent school of theology that was in fact a glorified Sunday School. She lied again when she said that she did not vote in favor of the DeS protocol. It is no surprise that a successful “relationship” with Schori is not possible.

  12. CharlesB says:

    The test comes when you have an adult child who you know is a liar. You have to forgive. Again and again. But it really hurts every time you find out you have been lied to yet again. God, give me the grace to keep loving this child and keep forgiving.