Friday, 2 May 2008


Is it ever right to lie?

After our weekly CU prayer meeting this morning, we went for breakfast (as we often do!). Whilst eating a (particularly delicious) bacon sandwich (though obviously not speaking with my mouth full), we got on to discussing the aforementioned question.

What do you think? Let me give you a few scenarios.

It is world war two, you have a family of Jews hidden in your house. You hear a knock on the door - it is the authorities, with the question 'do you have anyone hiding in this house?'

You are a Christian living in a country known for its persecution of Christians. You know of a group of Christians meeting secretly. You hear a knock on the door - it is the authorities, with the question 'do you know anything about this group - can you tell us where they meet?'

What do you do? Do you tell the truth, or is it right in these situations to lie? I think I know what I think, but even in a small group of four or five discussing over breakfast there were differences of opinion. Let me know your thoughts (either leave a comment or drop me an email and i'll publish some of them), and i'll post my opinion in a little while.


opentoesandals said...

Does lieing show a lack of trust in God's power and sovereignty?

I remember hearing a story of a Christian in China who asked a senior official if he could bring a team with him into a university. When asked if the team he was going to bring was Christian, he replied yes they were.

For a split second he apparently was going to lie and say they weren't Christian, but he decided that he trusted God's will would be done and he told the official the truth.

The official could have turned them away and prevented the team coming onto campus, but rather he said he admired Christians for their hard work and said that they could come onto campus.

That's just one illustration, there are plenty more in books like it in Brother Andrew's "God's Smuggler".

I think sometimes lieing can be a symptom of a deeper lack of trust in God - rather than relying on him to work through a situation, you are taking the initiative on yourself. It's not a good thing to do and it doesn't glorify God.

On the other hand, I imagine there are times in closed Christian countries where it is necessary to not tell the truth to authorities to maintain a Christian witness. However, I think in these circumstances rather than telling a lie the best course of action is to not say anything unless the Spirit directs you... which is again relying on God to get you out of a situation rather than relying on yourself...

These are just some quick thoughts so don't tear me down!

PostTenebrasLux said...

There are clear instances in Scripture when it was commendable to lie, e.g., Rahab (Josh. 2 & Heb. 11:31). There are also instances in which it was right to hate your enemy (e.g., the Israelites entering Canaan). It was clearly right for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, but what about "Thou shall not kill"? Love and honesty are virtues; however, the application of those virtues can change depending on the kingdom-stage. The question, "who is my neighbor" doesn't always have the same answer.

For example, how long will Christ love His enemies, i.e., the reprobate? Surely, not eternally. And we recall that Lazarus wasn't allowed to even cool the tongue of his enemy that was being punished in the flames. In the new creation, glorified saints surely won't call the reprobate their neighbors.

My point in all that is that we can't over-simplify ethics in redemptive history, especially because different principles are at work at different times, in order to unveil Christ.

I don't know if it's ok to lie in this kingdom-age or not. It seems like the answer would be "no". The aforementioned instances at times when common grace was mitigated for a time to either symbolize Christ (e.g., Abraham & Isaac) or give a symbolic expression of God's eschatological kingdom (e.g., The Israelite theocracy under the Mosaic Covenant). Both instances required an "intrusion" of eschatological ethics rather than the common grace ethics that we function under right now.

Bart said...

Isn't keeping your conscience clean even at the expense of someone else's life selfish and idolatrous? God will forgive me, and love for my neighbor is more important.

If you can't lie to the Nazis, don't hide Jews in your house. As for me, I would lie and enjoy it.

Wartime ethics. Was it sinful for the Allies to mislead Hitler as the date and landing location on D-Day? Was it sinful for Joshua to set up an ambush against the city of Ai?