Is it ok ever to lie?

Discussion in 'Family, Relationships, and Single Life' started by bwallac2335, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I would say only in extreme circumstances where not lying would lead to greater sins. A great example of this would be lying to Nazi's to hide Jews.
     
  2. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Truth is a virtue, and scripture tells us it will set us free.

    Of course this leads to a discussion of Pilate's Question What is Truth?, or in the context here, what amounts to lying or bearing false witness?

    Clearly lying outright for personal benefit is wrong. Sometimes in order to preserve a confidence one might deflect, engage in obscurification, mishear the question and provide an alternative truth, or simply declare the no knowledge position you would have been in without that which was told you in confidence, or simply prefer a no comment answer.

    If we could live in a binomial world one might be able to be outright in an answer. However we do not, and there will always be a multitude of situations where we are called upon to evaluate the propositions in front of us and choose the greater good or the lesser evil.

    I would always prefer to equivocate, or dilute the truth, rather than tell an outright lie, when in circumstances where truth in not an option. None the less I can imagine situations where it might be the best option.

    As Christians we generally try to be helpful, kind and honest. One of our great problems that gets us in a mess is that generally when you cease to be honest, then you are neither help or kind.

    Joseph Fletcher is often maligned for his work Situation Ethics, and I think unfairly so.

    The abiding principle is Truth, however sometimes its value may need to be seen in the relevant situation.
     
  3. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    As with all things, intent is key. Sometimes a lie is the kindest thing you can give someone
     
  4. Fidei Defensor

    Fidei Defensor Active Member

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    It’s actually “Thou shalt not bear false witness” like in the court of law, not “Thou shalt not lie.” Still it is not good to make a habit of lying.

    I agree its best to reserve lies for protecting people. Like if you lived on Syria and the invading Turks who have orders to kill Syrian Christians, ask you if you’ve seen any. You can lie then.
     
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  5. strelitziaflower

    strelitziaflower Member

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    I really don’t understand this premise.

    The Imitation of Christ says “Don’t believe everything people say because people err in their speech.”

    I think maybe, in seriousness, this example is over simplified. Don’t be offended, I just a lay person.
     
  6. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Not offended. I have never read the Imitation of Christ so I don't know what it says. In most instances to lie is wrong but is it wrong to lie in protection of people? I would say not. The nazi example is shows that in my mind. If you are hiding Jew's and the Nazi's come and ask are you hiding Jews you don't say yes let me show you to them. You say no because the no is the right thing to do even if it is a lie. Rahab did the same thing.
     
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  7. strelitziaflower

    strelitziaflower Member

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    Yes. Another example would be lying to someone who worries too much.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you, lying for the sake of isolation or privacy leads to a life of guilt.

    *A silly example. I can tell people about my garden that I am trying to patch up, but I can’t really share with others that I watch the news and sort through my stamps, I think that hobby cannot be shared. I would have to ask; why do you want to know?

    I value the sacrament of the sick and confession. I think some sins should be between the individual and God. *sigh* a sin of abortion is not between God and the individual because family have lost a grandchild.
     
  8. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Yes, I think there are circumstances in which to lie would be acceptable. It isn't really the action that's the problem but the intent of it and to some degree the outcome.

    One person gave an example of lying to hide Jews from the Nazis. That's an extreme example, and I think there are far more common, everyday examples.

    Someone may ask you what you think of their appearance. The answer you give would depend on the person asking the question. My mother and my aunt used to shop together frequently. My aunt trusted my mother's honest opinion. If she tried on an item of clothing and it didn't suit her my mother would say and my aunt would accept her opinion and be glad of it. In other circumstances I know people who would be very offended and upset if I gave them my true opinion on their appearance. I believe saying you look ridiculous to be far more harmful than saying to them you look great. The intent of the lie is not to offend and upset them. Of course, if I knew they genuinely were really interested in my truthful opinion I would give it.

    I think to lie to achieve personal gain or to deceive people is wrong. Those bring about harm and if discovered can seriously damage relationships. Therefore, lying is somethig that you cannot say is wrong in each and every situation. The norm should always be to tell the truth. However, sometimes the truth can cause more harm than a lie. As with everything else in life you have to weigh the consequences in the balance, consider one's intent and attempt to predict the outcome. That should hopefully lead us to making the right choice in given circumstances. Sometimes we do have to lie.
     
  9. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Yes sometimes it can be best not to be to honest as in how does someone appear. To my shame, when I was 15 or 16, a good friend of mine who is a woman asked me how her hair looked, at homecoming probably in front of her date. I said it looked bad. She cried. 20 years later I still feel bad about it and we now laugh about it. We are still friends but there was no reason for me to say what I did even if it was the truth.
     
  10. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    A very good example of when to lie. You probably ruined her evening and what you said did not even constitute absolute truth. It was merely your opinion. You said you still feel guilty about this but I don't think you should if you're still friends and she now laughs about it. My post is certainly not intended to add to your guilt, which I think you need to get rid of for your own peace. I drew attention to it because I think it's a very good example of when lying would have been far better than the bald truth.
     
  11. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Oh it did not add to my guilt. I just still feel bad about it because it was mean. Oh yeah we are still friends. She is the only life long friend I have. Her husband is now one of my best friends and our kids are friends.
     
  12. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    There are at least four modes of misleading others by the tongue, when there is a just cause,—
    1. An untruth which is not a lie,
    2. Equivocation
    3. Evasion
    4. Silence
    5. Change the Subject
    6. Humour
    I have no difficulty whatever in recognizing as allowable the method of silence.

    Deception to protect ourselves is more problematic than deception to protect others. As Christians we like to think we can be kind, helpful, and truthful. And I don't think we should get tangled up in the small stuff. There will always be a sense of significance, scale and scope that is important.

    Complimenting the host for the meal is probably etiquette, however honest may be more important if it is a future in-law who will then conclude that you should be fed this often. I have a long story about apricot chicken.
     
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  13. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    My mother will never tell a host she does not like something even when they are very good friends. She goes to one couple for dinner who always serve pâté as the hors d’œuvre. She hates it but will not tell them.
     
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