Sunday, September 17, 2006

Are you hiding Jews here?

The knock resonates on the door, pulsating through your already throbbing ears. The blood pounds in your head as you push the Jewish family into the secret trapdoor under the dining room table, and then you compose yourself and walk to the door, trembling slightly. You open the door slowly, and see the four Nazi soldiers on the doorstep. The leader looks at you with a cruel stare and asks you a very simple question: “Are you hiding Jews here?” What do you say to him?

I’m sure that you’ve heard this story in many different ways and many different situations, but the basic question is a crucial one for all of us. Is it ever okay to lie? And if so, when?

A good friend of mine and I were having this discussion a few days ago, and it got me thinking. The three main verses that are often brought up (and were in this discussion) are the following:

Exodus 20:16 You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Proverbs 6:16-18 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Proverbs 12:22 The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

I’m going to address the subject using these three verses. The first thing to do is to find a definition of a lie. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of “lie” is the following:

1 : an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive
2 : something that misleads or deceives

I think we can all agree that this is an accurate description of a lie. So we are presented with this problem: Is it ever okay to “lie” (as we’ve just defined it)? Well, let’s look back at our scripture verses. We often quote these verses with the intention of showing that God hates lying in all its forms. But if we look closely at the wording used, one of the first things we notice is what it is exactly that God detests: lying lips, a lying tongue, a false witness, false testimony.

It seems that what God hates is a little deeper than just “something that misleads or deceives.” He hates specifically the lips that are lying, the tongue that is lying, the witness who is false, the testimony that is false. Now, if you learn anything about the way God views sin in general from the Bible, it’s that “man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). What you do on the outside isn’t what ultimately counts. If you’re respectful to your parents outwardly but are mad at them in your heart, you’re sinning just as much as the kid who starts yelling at his parents. This concept will help us as we look at lying specifically.

Let’s start by evaluating the two passages from Proverbs. They talk about lying lips and a lying tongue. The idea that these passages give us is more one of habit. For example, would you be considered to have lying lips if you told one white lie once in your life? No, but you still lied. But if you were known for telling outrageous whoppers, trying to get people to believe them, than you would be considered to have lying lips. It seems as though that’s what the passages mean when they say “God detests lying lips”: lips, and by extrapolation a heart, that is focused on lies and consistently lies. That’s what God hates.

But wait, you say, does that mean that God doesn’t mind the occasional white lie? Well, I think that’s where the other passage in Exodus comes in. It helps us to see exactly what kind of lie God despises. It says “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” And after considering this, it seems to me that the kind of lying that God detests is the lying that is intended to hurt somebody else. Whether you’re getting them in trouble or making them look bad or whatever, that’s what God hates. That’s what he specifically condemns in the Ten Commandments.

But what about the lie that you tell when you’re trying to get out of trouble, you might ask. How does that fit in to your definition of sinful lying? My response would be that you’re actually hurting them by depriving them of the opportunity to bring justice, and that is a real harm indeed.

Using this definition of lying, which I believe and have tried to show is biblical, it would be perfectly fine to tell those Nazi soldiers at your door that you are not hiding Jews in your house. You are not trying to hurt somebody else, but in fact you’re helping them and saving their lives, and I believe that you would have God’s support. The same would go for throwing somebody a surprise birthday party: you’re allowed to lie to them in the process of planning it in order to bless them in the future. You’re not harming them in any way.

There are stories in the Bible which I believe support this view. Specifically there are the stories of the Egyptian midwives and Rahab the prostitute. In the stories of the midwives (from Exodus 1), Pharaoh had ordered the midwives to kill all the Hebrew boys as they came out of the womb. The midwives believed this was wrong, and would instead deliver the babies and then tell Pharaoh that the babies were already born by the time they got there. And Scripture says that “God was kind to the midwives…because the midwives feared God.” Wait, they lied because they feared God? According to my view, that lines up exactly with biblical standards. They were lying in order to save lives, not to hurt somebody.

The story of Rahab shows the same principle. When the Israelite spies sought refuge with her, she hid them on the roof and told the soldiers in pursuit that they had left the city (does this sound like the Nazi scenario to anyone?). She was then rescued from the city and blessed because of her actions. Once again, she was helping people, not hurting them, and so her lie was not considered sinful.

In conclusion, I believe that Scripture supports the view that it is okay to lie at times. And like all other sin issues, it all comes down to the heart motives. What is your purpose in telling this lie? Are you trying to hurt somebody or deprive them of justice? I would venture that it is rare that we are presented with the situation where we can tell a lie without sin, but nevertheless I think the situations do exist.

Another topic that has been brought up is that lying can often be a lack of trust in God. If you aren’t trusting God to do what he sees best, then you’ll lie in order to make things work out the way you think they should. In the scenario with the Jews, your first response might be to think “There’s nothing God can do right now, so I’m going to have to do something.” In that case, you are sinning by lying, because you are not trusting in God. However, your first response might also be “These people have placed their trust in me to keep them safe, and if I betray them, then I have essentially murdered them.” If that is what you’re thinking, then I think it would be a sin to betray them. So if you’re lying because you don’t trust God, you’re sinning. But if you’re lying to save a life, then I don’t believe you are sinning.

The most important thing to remember, though, is this: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). It is rare that the situation will be as cut-and-dried as hiding Jews from the Nazis, and when it gets grey, our tendency is to think the best of ourselves and assume we’re doing it for the right reasons. So distrust your heart, and don’t assume you’re in the right. That’s the most dangerous thing you can do.

In other words, save the Jews, but otherwise don’t take the chance.

33 comments:

Peter Wilson said...

If it were sometimes okay to lie in order to protect people I think the Bible would clearly say so.

The midwives were not blessed because they lied, they were blessed because they feared God [see the actual text]. The fact that God blessed them in the midst of their lies does not justify the fact that they did lie. God blesses sinners even in their sin.

Rahab's lie was not justified by her motives nor was she ever commended for her lie. She was commended for her faith and for her fear of God.

I totally agree with the fact that to tell a lie is to distrust God to uphold justice by himself. The truth is a policy that I think should never be broken (boy I feel like a hypocrite) even if the motives are good. I know from experience that even with good motives, foolish and sinful things can be done (trust me, it does happen :P).

The fact cannot be denied that God works through sin (in this case lying). It is true that God worked through Rahab's lie and through the lying that a few protectors of the Jews did in the Nazi era. But the fact stands that even though God works through sin, those commiting the sin are still accountable to him for what they do.

My final reason--and possibly the only truly valid reason I have-- for not lying is simply because Jesus never lied. God is our father and He never lies. Therefore to be like our father we must never lie. Furthermore, I think to tell a lie, even for a good purpose, is to distrust the just nature of the truth and the just nature of God.

"John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

Sam B. said...

You know, you never answered any of my Scriptural arguments. Why do you think that the Bible never comes straight out and says "Don't lie, God hates lying?" It only says "God hates lying lips" etc.

And in the case of the midwives, the Bible not only never condemns them for lying, but the context and tone of the passage seems to indicate that God blessed them because they lied. Their fear of God led them to lie so that they would not kill his chosen people. So I would disagree with that point of yours.

And how do you know Jesus never lied? Does it ever say that in Scripture? You need to back that up if you're going to cling to it in the way that you do.

Josh T said...

I agree with Pete. I see no distinction between what he is saying, and what you are saying abou the lying lips. When God says that He hates lying lips, I think it's pretty clear that He hates lying lips. If you tell even just one lie with your lips, you have lying lips.

I disagree with your point on Rahab and the midwives. I agree with Peter. The Bible says that they were blessed because they feared God, not because they lied. I do not think that we can necessarily say that their fear of God led to their lying. I do not think their lying was a sign of their fear of God.

I am surprised that you are even asking whether Jesus ever lied. You and I both know about how Jesus lived His life. He had no reason to lie. When He was confronted by the Pharisees, He said the truth in boldness. He told them, to their faces that "Before Abraham, I Am" He had no reason to lie. He had complete faith in God and in the will of God. This goes back to the point I mentioned to you earlier before you posted...lying is a sign of not trusting God. I believe we can easily say that Jesus never lied because we know that Jesus had a complete trust and faith in God in EVERY aspect of His life.

I would have to say now, that I believe that the Bible teaches that any lie is wrong, no matter what.

Psalm 89:35
"Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;
I will not lie to David."

1 Sam. 15:29
"And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret."

I think Scripture is clear that God cannot lie. The question is not: Did Jesus ever lie? That's out of the question. We should know that Jesus never lied. And if we want to live like Christ in every aspect, as we are called to do in Scripture, we can know that we are to never lie either.

When it comes down to it, I would much rather choose to betray the trust of the jews I am hiding, than betray the love of a Holy and Righteous God who demands justice. I would much rather trust in the sovereign work of God, then trust in my own feeble efforts. And besides, odds are, knowing the Nazis, they're gonna search the house either way. So why try to do something on your own rather than trust God to protect them?

Peter Wilson said...

Sam, I don't intend to pound this to death, but I'm with Pete and Josh here (btw this is Paul from Peter's account).

Before I adress your arguments, I would like to make a very obvious statement about God, his character, and his law. He don't do no exception thingy. Could you imagine if there were exceptions to other commandments? Like "do not murder," or "do not commit adultery." I anticipate a few objections or and arguments to this which I will adress in an appendix. But for now, I think this is a good way to start.

To start with, I accept your definition of a lie. No reason to bicker about that.

I would start, however with a question about your use of scripture. Please, I'm not trying to pass judegement on you, but it seems to me that you are not looking for the truth in the scriptures but instead attempting to limit the application of the scriptures. You said that Peter did not answer your scriptural arguments.

"You know, you never answered any of my Scriptural arguments. Why do you think that the Bible never comes straight out and says "Don't lie, God hates lying?" It only says "God hates lying lips" etc. "

I think he did. You see, I would not evaluate those to be scriptural arguments because your argument was not complimentary to the scripture. Instead, you only used them to declare where you think they are limited. In other words, they weren't scriptural arguments, but arguments about scripture. Your truly scriptural arguments, I think Peter did answer very well. I would be referring to the references to the midwives and Rahab. Peter's responses were logical and true. (granted, they are no proof that it is never ok to lie, but I do not think they can be used as an example of when God accepted a lie.) As for your response, it is quite rare for the historical books of the bible to offer any rebuke for the sins of the people unless it is the sin of a ruler or of the entire tribe of Israel.

John Macarthur writes, reffering to Rahab's ethics, "Still, that isn't the point of Rahab's story. There's no need for clever rationalization to try to justify her lie. Scripture never commends the lie. Rahab isn't applauded for her ethics. Rahab is a positive example of faith."(Twelve Extraordinary Women, 59).

One more example of someone who lied to save someone would be that of Sarah, Abram's wife. She lied three different times to three different kings in order to protect her husband from harm. These ocasions were not treated so well as the other examples you brought up if you know what I'm talking about.

Anyhow, there is one more doctrine that I think aplies to our understanding of these stories. That is the doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture. According to Wayne Grudem in "Bible Doctrine" the sufficiency of scripture means that "Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything that we need God to tell us for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly." For the midwives, there had not yet been a command to not lie. (I am not saying that God did not yet disapprove of lying, but they were not directly disobeying God's word when they did.) For Rahab, although she lied after the commandments were given, there is no need to condemn her for her ethics.

Also, if it is helpful, the Bible harshly condemns people who sin in one way in order to save someone. Here is an example from Old Testament law.
Deu 25:11 "When men fight with one another and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts,
Deu 25:12 then you shall cut off her hand. Your eye shall have no pity.
You see, she is not even allowed to save her own husband in this manner.

Thank you Josh for bringing up the scriptures that God can not lie. Here are a few more references. Titus 1:2, Numbers 23:19, Heb 6:18, Jn 7:18. Sam, be careful. I know you were just trying to defend your argument, but please do not suggest that Jesus may have lied. He is God, our Holy God. Even if you are not convinced that lying is wrong. I would be terified if I were you to make such a statement.

I think that is a fairly complete rebuttle to the original argument. But now we must give a few reasons why lying is wrong.

1. God's word condemns it. Not just in those three verses. I have an incomplete list of 109 references from 30 different books in the Bible that condemn lying. Here are a few of my favorites:
Rev 14:5 and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.
1Pe 2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.
Zep 3:13 those who are left in Israel; they shall do no injustice and speak no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid."
Psa 119:163 I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law.
Lev 19:11 "You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.
Zec 13:3 And if anyone again prophesies, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, 'You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the LORD.' And his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies.

This passage is talking about false prophesy, but the terms which are used are "speaking lies in the name of the Lord." This is a vicious way to put it, but isn't that what you are doing in your hypothetical situation.

Let no one ever read this as the defense of "just another rule." We don't tell the truth just to obey, though that is good enough reason alone. We tell the truth because we love and honor God, who loves the truth. Truth will never dishonor God. That is why education is not a secular thing. Let us praise God and honor him by our honesty and our boldness. So when America is overrun by racists ans those KKK folks come knocking on my door with burning crosses and rough nooses and ask "are you hiding any Black folks here?" may God give me the courage to say, "proudly, do you know that God sent his Son to save your black soul?" Let me die as a martre or live to see an amazing miracle!

Peter Wilson said...

That was Paul.

Jesus cannot lie simply because it is against the very nature and character of God. Part of God being a holy God is that He has the power of Divine Fiat or Divine imperative by which what God says becomes true. So Jesus cannot tell a lie simply because just for him to say something by his very nature causes it to be true.

Heb 6:17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,
Heb 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

Note that it is (INSERT BOLD HERE) IMPOSSIBLE (END BOLD) for God to lie according to the cited verse. Therefore, it is impossible for Jesus to lie.

Josh T said...

Amen. I like both of your thoughts.

THAT was the verse I was looking for, Pete. Thanks for finding it and bringing it up.

Sam B. said...

I seem to be all alone here. First let me clarify: I never actually believed that Jesus had ever lied. I was playing devil's advocate for a moment to see how you'd respond. You responded very well, so now I'll shut up about that.

Paul, what I'm trying to say is that saving the Jews is not "an exception" as you put it. I'm trying to show that by saying "You shall not bear false witness", God narrows down the kind of lying he condemns. It's not just any lying he condemns, he condemns lying that harms someone else.

Here's a dilemma for you: are you allowed to lie to someone to put on a surprise birthday party? Are you sinning by lying to them? I would venture that no, you're not. And that's the kind of lie I'm defending here: the kind that is actually intended to bless someone.

With all due respect, Paul, I am merely trying not arguing about Scripture, but arguing from Scripture. I think that the fact that you find the same wording in all of these very important passages indicates something very important about the nature of sinful lying.

I drop the argument about Rahab. The whole story is a little too ambiguous. But the story of the midwives I cling to as proof of my point. If you read the passage (Exodus 1), you'll see that the unmistakable implication is that the midwives' fear was evidenced in their lying. Immediately after their lie, it says "So God was kind to the midwives." That "so" implies a direct relationship with the preceding sentence: the lie. God was kind to them because of their lie, which came from their fear of God. So I believe that this story completely supports my story.

Those verses you quote about lying are very good, but at the same time you notice that they all seem to be talking about "deceitfulness". Deceit, as defined in Webster's, is "to ensnare, to be false, to cause to accept as true and valid what is false or invalid." It then goes on to say "Deceive implies imposing a false idea or belief that causes ignorance, bewilderment, or helplessness." That would meet my definition of sinful lying, and that seems to be the idea all your verses are going for.

I honestly don't think that God would want us to condemn somebody to death by telling the truth to a bunch of inhuman thugs like that. I think I have the scriptural support for it, as well, as I've shown. I also don't believe it is sinful to lie to someone in order to bless them, as in a surprise party. So I stand by my argument.

David S said...

Wow Deep thoughts here folks... pete paul and josh i see the logic in what your saying, however betraying innocents doesnt seem morally right to me. I can see where sam is coming from
and personally my first inclination is to say that it isnt wrong to lie to the nazi's however you guys raided EXCELLENT points and im gonna have to think on them before i give my opinion.
Just wanted to commend you guys for the thought you've given this, ill post my complete response later on.

Josh T said...

Well, I'm going to respond about the midwives, because of the two stories, I actually thought it was the weaker evidence.... :-)

I don't think the midwives were blessed because they lied. I believe they were blessed because Pharoah told them to kill the babies, and instead, they chose to deliver them. I believe God blessed them for not killing innocent children just because they were told to. And I believe they were blessed because they were not set back by threats from a human, but instead chose to fear God. Their lie was not necessarily the only thing they did that they could have received a blessing for. I would say that they were blessed for the other things they did - not for lying. God chose to bless them, despite their sin, not because of it.

As far as the surprise party goes, I don't know exactly how to answer that other than this...

Usually you aren't going up to the person and saying, "Hey, guess what?! We AREN'T planning a surprise party for you!" That would be dumb. They would figure it out. (or i should hope they would) However, if the situation arises in which let's say they specifically ask, "Are you planning a surprise party for me?" (which rarely happens), what do you say? First, you don't have to flat out lie. There are many ways to get out of that situation without lying...

1. Sarcasm. If you say, very sarcastic SOUNDING, "Oh! Yeah! We aaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrreee...." they would probably just think you are joking, even though you are really telling the truth.

2. Vagueness rules the day. Be vague. Don't lie, but don't necessarily tell the truth either.

3. Tell them to ask their parents. It's usually them planning it anyway. If the parent's decide to tell them, it's up to them.

Those are all kinda dumb, but what I'm saying is that I don't think that is such a valid point, mainly because you usually just don't even mention anything to the person. You usually aren't talking to them about a party, you just play it low.

I do believe that it would be a sin to lie to them. The Bible says, "Let your yes be yes, and let your no be no" If you say, "No, we are not planning a surprise party for you." than you better not be. If you are, than you've just disobeyed Christ.

And another point,....
Now that we all agree that Jesus never lied, you haven't managed to deter us from the original point he was trying to make. Since we all know that Jesus never lied, and since we are to live our lives like Christ, and following Him in our every action, trying to be just like him (even though we never will be), because he never sinned, we shouldn't either. I don't care what about.

That actually makes me think of another response. Be like Jesus, answer their question with another question...

"Are you planning a surprise party for me?"

"Wait...When's your birthday?!"

That would most likely convince them, and you never actually lied. You never said, "I don't know when your birthday is." You just simply asked a question.

Anyway, those are all a bunch of thoughts as I sit here with a headache....they may seem crazy, i dunno. I'm tired. :-)

But anyway Sam, just in case, I want to say, don't get discouraged by all the opposition. This was the first post on the blog, it's a subject that everyone will have an opinion on, and even though you're wrong ( :-) ) I still think it's a good way to launch the blog. Now we can see an ideal post, and show people how to respond. Don't feel discouraged just because no one agrees with you. :-P

Josh T said...

oh, and you can't necessarily say that you are condemning them to death...there's where you have to trust God.

I'm assuming that if you're hiding jews, then you probably have worked out a way to hide them well when, not if, but when the Nazis search your house. Now you just have to trust God that He will hide them from the Nazis' eyes.

It's like the story I told you...

The jews hid under a small, insignificant table in a small room. The nazis came, asked if there were jews there, the person said, "Yeah, they're hiding under the table." So the nazis came in, searched under the dining room table, and found nothing. They didn't even think to look under any other tables. They decided the guy was lying, and that there really were no jews there, so they left, and the jews were safe.

Moral of the story: If you are truly trusting God, you cannot say that you are condemning them to death. You would have to say that you are putting them in God's hands. I would much rather put them in God's hands, than keep them in my own. Not only for the obvious reasons, but also because I believe He will reward me if I trust in Him even when it seems impossible for things to go well. Not only that, but it will actually be a blessing to the jews. It will show them that the God we serve is powerful enough to protect them from the nazis, and it would really be a good conversation starter in order to share the Gospel with them. If the nazis DO end up finding the jews, you couldn't hold yourself responsible. You would have to trust that God is working something powerful here, that we cannot understand, and you would have to trust in God to protect them.

Josh t said...

But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

Ok, so I can see how you could assume that the "so" is referring to the lie, however, given the nature of God, and the REST of the Bible, (that's part of hermenuetics, looking at what the whole Bible teaches in order to interpret a confusing verse), I would say that, no, they are being rewarded for their fear of God, not for their lie. I do not believe they go hand in hand. More thoughts to come...Sam and I are gonna ask someone wiser...a pastor. :-)

Peter Wilson said...

Sam, did you read my post? Did you skip the part about the sufficiency of scripture? The midwives were never commanded by God not to lie. There was no Bible at that time. Besides (you may hate this argument, but it's true) The Bible never said that the midwives lied. Haha! they may have just taken their merry time in showing up. Or what they said may have been true. OK, that's an annoying one, I admit it. But it is impossible to use this as an example of a time God was OK with a lie.

One inconsistency in your argument (I assume that you mis-spoke or mis-typed). You said, "Here's a dilemma for you: are you allowed to lie to someone to put on a surprise birthday party? Are you sinning by lying to them? I would venture that no, you're not. And that's the kind of lie I'm defending here: the kind that is actually intended to bless someone." Excuse me for being blunt but that is not true, this is not at all the sort of lie that you were talking about in the beginning. . . Unless I missed the part about throwing a surprise party for the Nazis.

Also, if you look at all of the scriptures, they do not categorize lying the way you do. Look at the very first one I mentioned. I've got about 100 more for you if you want to read them.

And no, don't be silly with this definitions thing. That definition of deceit would work just as well for any of your proposed situations.

Sam, God is sovereign. The duty is ours, the consequences are God's. And the duty is not unclear.
1Co 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

oops. . . I forgot my appendix. No matter, the arguments I anticipated were never brought up.

Sam and anybody else who would feel comfortable lying for a "good cause", I would encourage you to evaluate your own life and opinion from scripture. Here is one that is not directly about lying, but it gives a sober perspective on what God thinks about lying.

Ecc 5:2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.


By the way, I would not be pleased if you lied to save my life.

Peter Wilson said...

btw that was Paul

Peter Wilson said...

haha! here's yet another thing about what the midwives said. They didn't say it for any altruistic reason. They said it to save themselves. Look. They saved the babies by not killing them. What they said was before the king to justify themselves. And I wholeheartedly endorse Josh's point about proper hermanuetics.

Paul again

Peter Wilson said...

I'm going to make Paul get his own blogger account soon.

Paul pretty much said any important thing I was going to say. But here's another bit that I have trouble with.

God is the God of truth and CANNOT tell a lie. God is fully just and will deliver mercy to whom HE will have mercy and pour out wrath upon those whom he will have wrath. He is completely omnipotent and is fully able to enforce justice in spite of a bleak looking truth. Since God is a just God and an omnipotent God, we've no business disobeying his law or putting exceptions in his law in order to enforce his law as WE see fit. And since God is a God of truth and nothing but truth and we are his people, we are therefore obligated to be people of the truth and nothing but the truth.

Josh T said...

Alright, I just searched the entire Bible on this subject, and am now thoroughly convinced that lying, no matter what is wrong. One verse that clearly stood out was this:

Romans 3:7-8
“But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.”

Even if through my lie God's truth abounds, the condemnation is just. A lie is a lie. God is a God of truth.

Josh T said...

Even if it seems like something insignificant, like throwing a surprise party, Scripture teaches that everyone will give an account for every careless word.

Juli said...

Wow, good thoughts, guys. Here are a few more that came to my mind while I was reading all of yours... the story Josh told about the table was either "telephoned" and got a little distorted or happened twice, because in Corrie ten Boom's book "The Hiding Place" she tells the story of her young niece, who couldn't bear to lie, telling the Gestapo that the Jews they were hiding (in a root cellar whose trap door was covered by a rug on top of which was the kitchen table) were "under the table." The men looked under the table and then everyone laughed, the men felt stupid, got mad, and left.

Another random thought: the Quakers always told the truth becuase they believed that he who lies makes only trouble for himself, as he cannot remember to whom he lied about what and ends up trapping himself in a web. (Who was first, Shakespeare or the Quakers?) Subsequently they had such a reputation that even their enemies believed them.

Here's the thing though: it IS about your heart. So if your intent is to deceive, does techinically uttering the letter of the law "truth" make your heart any less deceitful? I think we would probably say no. For instance, when I was younger a common shortcoming of mine was reading when I was supposed to be doing something else. My mom would yell up the stairs "are you reading?" and I would stop reading, as in, look up from my book, and yell "no!" At the moment I was saying the word, I wasn't reading. Okay, now by a show a hands, who doesn't think I was lying? That's what I thought. Can't you flip it around, though? If you were hiding Jews, your intent was to decieve. To make the SS believe that you were not hiding Jews. So if you technically tell the "truth" but in other ways (context, body language, the way the room is set up, etc.) intend to deceive, is that any different?

And Josh, some of your non-answer ansers to the suprise party question still seem to me to be deceitful (not for ill will, we can all agree). I just think you have to use the same criteria to judge regardless of the bless/harm dicotemy, unless you admit there's a difference, which as far as I can tell neither you (Josh), Peter or Paul is doing. If you're a kid trying to get out of trouble by deceiving your parents about something, the general populous would say you're "lying" if you intend to deceive in any way: if you hide the truth, if you only give half the truth, if you're vague, if you're sarcastic, if you answer with a question... whatever. There's much more to it than a flat-out full-sentence contradiction. ("Billy, did you break this window?" "No, I did not break this window.") So shouldn't we apply the same judging methods to any attempts to deceive?

I'm sure this makes more sense in my brain than it does typed out. I'm not really sure where I fall on all this, which I why I'm throwing out disconnected thoughts which sort of support both views. Just more food for thought. I'm sure I'll have more to add later. Very curious to hear a pastor's (or pastors') take (or takes) on it.

And one thing I think we've all learned from this: avoid any contact with anyone if your birthday's coming up.

David Sav said...

Josh sorry bud but i totally disagree with your argument that you can evade the question and still be in the right. God doesnt just hate the act of lying but the heart attitude of decitfullness. personally if i was faced with the choice to betray innocent jews to nazi's who i knew would kill them the choice would be obvious to me, I would lie. Condemn me if you want, but i truly believe that handing over innocent men women and children to be tortured and killed simply for the sake of "not lying" would be morally wrong. Romans 13 says, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment." Now this would appear to claim that we MUST always obey the government, however Shadrach meshach and abendigo (spelling? lol) disobeyed the governing authority because they were subject to a higher law, they disobeyed and showed disrespect because the greater sin would be to disobey the first commandment "you shall have no other gods before me" similarly
in this case i would contend that the greater sin would to be let the
"strong" (nazi's) opress the weak.
those who are strong are commanded to defend the weak not to hand them over to butchers.


These arnt by any means exhaustive arguments and im still not 100% convinced either way i only write what my consience tells me. i look forward to seeing your responses


David

PuppetMom said...

Well...Josh left his blog open so now mom is on. If a lie is not a lie, then God is not holy. I have to agree with Josh...Jesus consistently answered questions and accusations so that the truth would be revealed at it's proper time...no sooner. But, he was never a liar...he just chose his words well. When he told the truth, God kept him safe...even from stoning.

54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ [3] 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” [4] 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

When it was his time, he was crucified...God's sovereign plan. It requires faith to believe that acting in accordance to God's commands will sovereignly allow his will to be done.

PuppetMom said...

So...if your wife asks you if she looks fat??????

The answer is "You are the most beautiful person in the world to me."

Josh T said...

I agree with Juli, that if you have the heart motive of deception, then you are still lying, even if you are technically telling the truth.

David, I disagree with what you said about evading the question. As my mom started to point out, Jesus Christ, Himself "evaded" questions. He would answer a question with another question... "Whose face is on that coin?" etc... Evading the question is not a sin...however, if your heart is still to deceive and you tell a half-truth or twist the truth such as Juli was saying, then I believe it qualifies as a lie.

And David, I keep saying, you are not necessarily handing them over. If you do not trust that God can still protect them from being found, your faith is weak!

But first, let's make something clear...I think that if any of us were actually in that situation, we would most likely choose to lie to the Nazis. However, that does not make it right. God is a Holy God. Lying may not seem so bad in that situation, but God is a Holy God. He cannot be near sin, and can have nothing to do with sin. He has declared that lying is wrong, and even if it brings Him glory in the end, it is still wrong for the person to do. Because of this law, made by God, lying in any form is a sin, and worthy of a just punishment by God. Thanks be to God and Christ that our sins are payed for!

And your point about Romans 13...David, please, we were both in the same debate last year. Romans 13 is an invalid point because there are some governments that are evil, and shouldn't be followed.

But that's all a moot point because it has nothing to do with what I'm saying. I'm not saying you should tell the Nazis because they are your government. I am saying that you should not lie because God has declared that lying is a sin. And even though everything inside of us might be telling us to protect the Jews, we have to realize that our hearts are deceitful, and the right thing to do would be to trust in God and put our faith in Him to protect them, not in ourselves.

Peter Wilson said...

I know that y'all would feel badly by turning over the Jews to the Nazis. All human beings should. But we need to get past our subjective gut reaction to the issue in order to get to the objective reality of the issue.

It is not a sin on your part if you allowed the nazis to march in and take the Jews you were hiding. It wouldn't even be a sin if they were counting on you for protection. It would be a sin if you had promised them that you would lie to protect them in which you are caught between two dishonest courses of action.

Although evil might happen because you stand up for the truth does not make you accountable to God for the evil that happens because of your steady hold onto righteousness. Those who commit the evil are the ones who will be accountable for it. That said, I conclude that there is no sin on your part in "turning over" the Jews to the Nazis.

Ummm. I don't really see how you're applying Romans 13 to the context of lying. That's talking about obedience to human authority. We're talking about obedience to God's authority.

Also Dave, you're writing what your conscience tells you, which is a good thing I guess. But it is FAR better to write things that scripture tells us. It is important to understand that our consciences are corrupted by the fall and by sin. Scripture is not.

Josh, Paul, Mrs. T, and I have brought up several biblical arguments that as of now have not been answered.

Paulucus said...

one quick comment on your moot point, Romans 13 had better apply to evil governments because Nero happened to be king at the time it was written. Also, it says every ruler. The exception is if they tell you to do something evil. "we must obey God rather than man."

Paulucus said...

And guys, everything that should be said about lying (at least for our level of thinking) has already been said. I would caution you against a mistake I have made many times in my thinking. Don't try to say more than what the Bible actually says. You may find yourself scratching for meaning from a passage of scripture that simply is not adressing that topic (stories abour midwives and Rahab come to mind).

Here's an important premise for this argument. Again, this is no new argument. I have no more of those. But remember how Jesus responde when he was asked "what is the greatest commandment?" (I will be paraphrasing because I have no Bible with me). You all know what he said. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Now Sam and David seem rightly concerned with loving the neighbor as self. But would you lie to save yourself? I can't tell from your arguments. Really. Would you? If not, then I don't think you should feel pressure to do the same for someone else. Don't get me wrong, I think it is good to do more for others than yourself. But you hear what I am saying. If obedience to the greatest commandment means not lying (which I think it does) then you can still obey the second greatest without lying. It is true that we must do everything in our power to help those in need. Why? Because God loves them, and we immitate him when we help them. For the same reason, everything that we say must be true. Why? Because God loves truth. He hates falsehood. And because we immitate him when we boldly tell the truth and we immitate the devil if we lie. It is quite arrogant and distrusting of God ALMIGHTY if we think that by lying or telling the truth, we actually change the fate of another person. God is in sovereign control over everything that happens. If this situation evercomes upon you, I would say pray. Pray that God would make the nazis pass by your house. Or even give you the opportunity to share the gospel with them as they search your house. Which of you would rather live and say "I saved a Jew" than die and say "I layed down my life for the sake of the gospel". Oh, and I assume that if I told the truth, I would die, because even though I "betrayed" those living in my house, they would still not be taken from it but over my dead body.

David said...

just for the record i wasnt using romans 13 to prove that lying is permissable i was just using the passage to show how there is a precident for disobeying. to quote paul "The exception is if they tell you to do something evil. "we must obey God rather than man."' i was just saying that just as shadrach and crew :) disobeyed this there might be precident for lying in the face of a corrupt and evil government making evil demands with the intent of murdering innocents. Paul EXCELLENT points made, i have to admit i would not lie to save my self, to do so would be to deny Christ. Pete i see what your saying and i may need to reorient my perspective and be more "objective" i can see where your arguments have merit and scriptual support and honestly i am really enjoying this discussion. still im interested in finding out what a pastor thinks of all this.

Josh T said...

After talking to Mr. Boisvert today at caregroup, (Sam, you can fill in here) he basically sided with us (the ones against any type of lying). He said that although it would seem better than turning the Nazis over, it would still be wrong. It would be an evil with lesser consequences. Also, this would be a situation that is asked, "Would you lie or would you tell the truth?" however, that is not the way to approach this scenario. You cannot give the scenario and only allow two options. There are others.

As far as the surprise party goes, he said that there would be a better course of action to take than lying. He wasn't totally sure how to answer the question (as were we all), but he does believe that it wouldn't be the best thing to do, and it could be seen as wrong.

Great discussion guys. After speaking with Paul, I am going to post something in a few days (not my official post) about this blog in general.

If you have any more thoughts on this subject, please continue to comment. My mind is made up, I am not going to be convinced otherwise. I believe that lying is wrong whatever the case.

Thanks to everyone for participating.

Paulucus said...

Amen! kudos to david for posting with the greatest level of humility. That is so much more important than scholarly arguments!

John S. said...

I'm definitely leaning towards the side that all lying is wrong no matter what, but here's an interesting question responding to Paul's last comment:

I would not lie to save myself (at least, not in principle), because after all, what would be cooler than to be a martyr?
But what if you were tempted to lie to save people who did not know Christ?

I think I can see the answer to this coming, but I want to see what y'all think...

Josh T said...

It would still be wrong. What better witness than to show that we will not back down on what Christ has taught us? And also, we have to know and realize that God has either written them into His book or He hasn't. But I'm not going to get into that discussion.

The same principle applies...lying would still be wrong, whether you feel good about it or not.

Annie G. said...

My thoughts:
I am in no way saying I'm right, in fact, please tell me if I'm wrong. (which I probably am)
OK, Exodus 1:17 says, "The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live." I think in this passage of scripture the way the midwives are fearing God is by disobeying Pharoah. They are also hiding their disobedience from him, they aren't coming straight out and saying "we aren't going to do this because it's wrong," shown by the fact Pharoah has to SUMMON them to find out why the Hebrew boys aren't being killed. Since he has to summon them to find out why, this must mean that he believed the midwives had agreed to killing the boys. And if they had given him that belief, then their fearing God would be lying to Pharoah, because they told him or at least gave him the impression they would follow his directions and then went back on that, wouldn't that be a lie? Definition of a lie I'm using here: something intended or serving to convey a false impression. In this case wouldn't their fear of God be based upon a lie? Which means God HAS blessed them for lying in order to save His people. What do you all think?

Paulucus said...

Very good thought, annie. I can see your point. However, the earlier point about the sufficiency of scripture would still apply (this argument is able to stand alone regardless of the other circumstances surrounding the event). Also, Pharoah was a god (in his own eyes), the midwives were slaves. They would not have been given any choice or even an opportunity to show disapproval. I doubt the Pharoah even saw the midwives' faces before he called them to account for what they did. Even if they did lie, which they may or may not have, what God blessed them for was their courage towards Pharoah and fear of God.

Zarcon said...

holy christmas i wish i saw all this three days ago...geez. Ok so since were sorta at a point nearby and...actually i only read the first 2/3 of this comment page...ok um what about joking. Like seriously, if i outright say to Josh, "Dude, your mom just left, i think your stranded here." And of course she's right around the corner, where does that fit into sin? Like the scriptures about the man who said "i was just joking" and your 3000 scriptures about lying.