Some Thoughts About Lying- Part 2, by ShepherdFarmerGeek

[Editor’s Note: It is the position of the editor’s of SurvivalBlog that the end does not justify the means. Deuteronomy 16:20 states “That which is altogether just shalt thou follow” (KJV), though a more accurate word-for-word translation would be “Righteous justice you shall pursue.” We believe that we are to model our Lord and Savior who did not lie.]

We are considering some thoughts about lying, based upon Paul Copan’s Enrichment Journal article called “Is It Ever Morally Permissible To Deceive?…

As an introduction, in Ephesians, the apostle Paul says to “put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts” (4:22). Then he says, “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors” (4:25).

Judging from these verses (and others) and the many shallow “Christian” articles online, a Christian may never, ever lie; it is a sin condemned by God. But that is not only a simplistic conclusion, it’s not Biblical in any way. The truth is more complicated.

We have been reading an excerpt from Paul Copan’s article called “Is It Ever Morally Permissible to Deceive?…” In Part 1, we read about the three main conditions under which deception is morally permissible– inconsequential social arrangements, war, and opposing criminals. Let’s move on with the excerpt from Mr. Copan’s article:

God-suggested Diversion

God-suggested diversion could be used if necessary (1 Samuel 16:1–5). God had told Samuel to anoint a king, and Samuel replied that if the jealous, ruthless, and irrational King Saul heard of it, he would kill Samuel. So God gave this advice to him: “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord’ ” (verse 2). Because Saul was a standing threat to various innocent lives, he had forfeited the right to [be told the truth] full or even partial disclosure of what Samuel was doing.

Obadiah Foiled Jezebel’s Plans

King Ahab’s own steward, Obadiah, whom the Bible describes as a devout believer in the Lord, foiled Jezebel’s plan to kill all the prophets by hiding 100 of them in caves (1 Kings 18:3,4). Through civil disobedience, he spared the lives of these men of God.

A Homeowner Away On a Trip

What about in today’s world? If a homeowner, away on a trip, has left a timer hooked up to his light system to deceive potential robbers into thinking that he is home, surely he isn’t sinning. Also, deceptive police activity is a good thing when needed to apprehend a criminal (for example, sting operations to break up drug or prostitution rings).

Robber’s Deceiver Morally Permissible

When a robber demands entrance to a home or access to possessions or people within and he can be deflected by deception, the deceiver has not chosen the “lesser of two evils,” for which he must repent. Rather, he has done what is morally permissible.

Isn’t Some Version of “Situation Ethics”

Note that this isn’t some version of “situation ethics” — that acts are right or wrong based solely on “the loving thing to do” in the situation, nor is this a matter of making a tragic moral choice, as if somehow both courses of action (deceiving versus letting an innocent person be murdered) are wrong. Rather, deception is generally wrong except where Scripture permits or advocates it, which is also very much in keeping with reason.

These three reasons are inconsequential social arrangements, war, and criminal resistance. In the instances cited, God himself took such action, commanded it, or is said to have approved of those who did.

Some Concluding Remarks

In the wise words of ethicists Glen Stassen and David Gushee: “Those … who are threatened and oppressed may be permitted in times of moral emergency to suspend truth telling temporarily in some contexts in order to honor central covenant obligations — and to work clandestinely, if necessary, for a just and peaceful public square in which truth may be freely spoken once again.”3

Note that I am not making exceptions here based on what is merely “loving and reasonable”; rather, these exceptions come from Scripture itself, which serves as a safeguard against rationalization and corruption of character.

We have also seen that when it comes to truth telling and deception, we must not only consider the act itself, but the character, motive, and context (such as warfare or criminal activity) involved. …”

The General Principle

True Bible guidelines actually describe a guideline, such as this …it is also possible to be a person who fears the Lord, walks by faith and yet feels constrained in extreme, life-threatening situations to oppose evil by lying.”

That is the general principle!

Underground Church

Richard Wurmbrand in his book Preparing for the Underground Church wrote:

“You cannot do underground work without using stratagems. I know of one case which happened in Russia. The Communists suspected that the Christians were gathering somewhere and they surveyed a street. They knew that the meeting must be there somewhere. The young boy going toward the house where they supposed the meeting would be. They stopped the boy and the police asked him, “Where are you going?” With a sad face, he said, “My oldest brother died, and now we gather the whole family to read his testament.” The police officer was so impressed that he patted the boy and said, “Just go.” The boy had not told a lie.

We are not obliged to tell an atheist tyrant the truth. We are not obliged to tell him what we are doing. It is indecent for his side to put questions to me, an impertinence.”

From: https://www.equip.org/bible_answers/is-it-ever-morally-permissible-to-lie/

Deceiving the Enemy in Circumstances of War

“Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who had ample time to contemplate this issue from the perspective of a Nazi prison cell—held that under certain circumstances lying was not only morally permissible but morally mandated. Thus, Bonhoeffer advocated deceiving the enemy in circumstances of war, and he had no compunction about lying in order to facilitate escape for Jews facing extermination.

Lying To Preserve a Higher Moral Imperative

Furthermore, while the Bible never condones lying qua lying (lying for the sake of lying), it does condone lying in order to preserve a higher moral imperative. For example, Rahab purposed to deceive (the lesser moral law) in order to preserve the lives of two Jewish spies (the higher moral law). Likewise, a Christian father today should not hesitate to lie in order to protect his wife and daughters from the imminent threat of rape or murder.”

I Samuel 21:12 “Now David took words these to heart and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them and feigned madness in their hands; he scratched on the doors of the gate and let his saliva run down his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you can see the man is insane!”

My Conclusions

Christians who have not considered the actual conditions of a life-threatening crisis, a war, criminal threats, or tyrannical government coercion will be woefully unprepared for situations where lying is not only Biblically permitted but morally required! These will be some of the traitors who will betray their family and friends and children to death by either telling the truth when asked or interrogated, or by simply being unprepared to lie and so pulling it off unconvincingly.

Ability to Lie About Critical Information Needs Attentions

A Christian who lies habitually, who lies for selfish reasons, or whose lies hurt other innocent people is in the wrong. But in these End Times, with a sometimes hostile government determined to deprive us of inalienable, God-given rights, potentially hostile raiders, looters, rapists, and vandals – being able to lie about critical information is a skill that probably will need some attention. (Yes, I never thought I’d see myself writing that…) Not surprisingly, the Internet has a decent intro to how to lie effectively that might be a good starting point for no doubt lively discussions about using lying and deception in ways that honor and obey God.

Modern Lie Detection and Silence

With modern technological lie detection improving by leaps and bounds, and more and more people being trained in detecting micro-expressions that happen during lying, our attempts to deceive an enemy opponent may well not succeed. We might simply find ourselves resorting to silence and taking the consequences.

Brother Andrew, God’s Smuggler

ut we also have the example of Brother Andrew, God’s Smuggler, who prayed many times while crossing the border into Communist countries with illegal Bibles, “Lord, you have made blind eyes to see. Please make seeing eyes blind.” For the sake of God’s cause we might ask Him to bless our necessary deception with success, for his Kingdom, to save many innocent lives.

You probably won’t hear a sermon about that!

Trust God. Be prepared. We can do both!

See Also:

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11 Comments

  1. FIRST, if you’re just now tuning in, be sure to read the first part of this article at https://survivalblog.com/thoughts-lying-part-1-shepherdfarmergeek/ and the Comments that follow.

    SECOND, thanks to a lack of clarity in my formatting, the Paul Copan article (quoted in its entirety) actually ENDS just before the subheading above entitled “The General Principle”. From that point on the article is my own writing. Before that, it’s Copan’s article.

    THIRD, thanks to article formatting requirements driven by Google (optimizing searchability), some of my original formatting was changed by the Editor. I would like to emphasize that “The General Principle” is this:

    We may oppose evil by lying.

    FOURTH, the article at https://www.wikihow.com/Lie is just one of several good Internete resources on how to lie better. I stand by my assertion that some “will betray their family and friends and children to death by either telling the truth when asked or interrogated, or by simply being unprepared to lie and so pulling it off unconvincingly.” Do your homework.

    FIFTH, regarding silence, the principle was observed and recorded at least as far back as 1794* “…there is no other effectual mode of preserving a secret and an important secret, the discovery of which may be very hurtful to you, but a flat denial [i.e., an active lie]; for if you are silent, or hesitate, or evade, it will be held equivalent to a confession.” If one’s intention is to avoid communicating the truth (that you’re hiding Jews, for example) then silence is NOT an effective option!

    SIXTH, I’m NOT saying we need to become sociopaths to survive the End Times / Tribulation / TEOTWAWKI! While lying to an enemy is a powerful tool we may rarely employ, we must not lose our love for the truth, we must not lose ourselves and become habitual liars. We must guard our hearts, and the risks of lying are just one of the destructive influences in a sustained conflict. We must FIGHT to hold on to our humanity and our holiness before God.

    Lying is a skill that requires planning, creativity, flexibility, and insight into human nature. We MUST have an unshakable connection and relationship with God and a broad knowledge of the truths of the Bible. We must not become experts in the process of lying alone, we must become experts in the truth of God’s Word and His working in the world and in our lives, lest we lose ourselves in the struggle. We must love and value truth and wisdom above all else and pursue it with all our hearts.

    SEVENTH, to summarize the comments that have been made and my subsequent research:

    a) Lying is permissible, even a moral imperative, if it is intended to oppose/hinder/delay an evil person or act in some way. We may oppose evil by lying.

    b) Lying diminishes trust. So is maintaining the trust of the evildoer important to us? No!

    c) Our *prior obligation* to the ones we’re trying to protect overrides any new obligation we might have to the questioner.

    d) Some people do not have the moral right to ask.

    e) Some people do not have the moral right to be told the truth.

    f) We have a moral *obligation* to defend the innocent. “…protecting a Godly person from those that would kill them IS a righteous act.” – Outlaw in SB Comments https://survivalblog.com/thoughts-lying-part-1-shepherdfarmergeek/

    g) “You are never under any obligation to help someone harm you.” – Professor Wagstaff under Comments https://survivalblog.com/thoughts-lying-part-1-shepherdfarmergeek/

    h) *Lying is demonstrating love* to whom we have the higher obligation to love: family, friends, our team, the good guys…

    i) Lying to the enemy is an *expression of love toward THEM.* We love them enough to want to protect them from themselves, to prevent more blood guilt on their heads by leading them away from fresh victims. It’s what we – were we in their shoes – would want someone to do for us once we came to our senses. Once the madness of blindly following a demagogue or tyrant has past do WE want to have the guilt of *more* deaths on our heads, or the guilt of *fewer*? We lie to the henchman to fulfill our Golden Rule obligation to them.

    j) In the scenarios we have envisioned, the good consequences of lying *outweigh* the bad. Something terrible will happen if you DON’T lie. Lying is permissible to prevent an even greater harm or injustice.

    k) Lying under these conditions is rare, so it doesn’t damage the social fabric. Lying under these conditions will be broadly accepted and understood *even by unbelievers,* and so will NOT impugn our reputations as followers of Jesus and truth-tellers.

    l) “When two countries are at war, the obligation to tell the truth is thought to be heavily reduced and *deliberate deception is generally accepted* as part of the way each side will try to send its opponent in the wrong direction, or fool the enemy into not taking particular actions. All parties in hostilities accept that deliberate deception will be part of the action.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/lying/lying_1.shtml This changes the calculus of lying.

    m) “Bottom-line, no one, not even kings and others in authority, have a right to the truth if they intend to use it to do harm or evil to others in violation of God’s law.” – Missouri Mule in SB Comments https://survivalblog.com/thoughts-lying-part-1-shepherdfarmergeek/

    n) Deceiving an evildoer lacks the malicious intent to even rise to the level of a “lie.” If you look at many of the Christian definitions of “lie,” the involvement of INTENT is obvious. I propose that, under the threat of an enemy to harm us or others, communicating false information would not even be defined as “lying.” Much of the disagreement going on about lying is being caused by sloppy definition of our terms. TZ in the Comments section yesterday at https://survivalblog.com/thoughts-lying-part-1-shepherdfarmergeek/, posted a link to the Catholic catechism: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a8.htm

    EIGHTH: We must NOT make this a divisive issue among our fellow preppers, brothers in arms, and followers of Jesus! Those who are refusing to endorse deceiving an enemy still have a PROFOUND love for God and his Word, and a deep commitment to our country and Constitution. We are all patriots here. This is simply one more point at which people of goodwill may sincerely disagree.

    Trust God. Be prepared. We must do both!!

    *James Boswell quoted in the biography, Life Of Johnson, https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Truth

  2. None of us are perfect under the law; no, not one. Did Jesus lie to save himself? No. Did Peter? Yes. Is there any question about Peter’s salvation? No.

    We are to strive to follow the commandments. If asked if you are of the Christian faith if it means death, should you answer in the affirmative? Yes. Like Peter, when you stand before the judgement throne, your unique case will be tried. Has the judge offered mercy? Yes.

    If asked about my faith upon sentence of death, will I answer in the affirmative? I hope so. I’m certainly no better than Peter.

    1. See the gospel of St. John, chapter 7, verses 1-10.

      Jesus’ brethren, who did not yet believe in Him, and knew the Jews were seeking to kill Him, asked if He was going up to the feast in Jerusalem. He said, “Go to the feast yourselves, I AM NOT GOING UP TO THIS FEAST, for my time has not yet fully come. So saying, He remained in Galilee. But after his brethren had gone up to the feast, THEN HE ALSO WENT UP, not publicly, but in private. (Emphasis added.)

      This is precisely the situation that so many have commented on. His brethren were not to be trusted to keep silent about His presence at the feast, and they also knew He was to be killed there.

      Thus Christ Himself gave the example that we are not required to tell the truth to people who will, directly or indirectly, get us murdered.

      It is the most difficult passages of Scripture that are often the most fruitful.

  3. Just a short comment on the ‘current’ state of affairs, as pertaining to your ‘right’ to refuse to answer any question presented to you….. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LIE!!! JUST KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!!!
    Still, under the 5th, you can choose to say NOTHING, and the powers that be may not hold that against you. They can rant and rave all the wish, but they cannot force you to ‘SAY ANYTHING’!!

  4. Note the word of the commandment is not “Lying”, but “Bearing False Witness”. The subtlety is to say you absolutely know something is true when you don’t. If you know it is in error, and you need to tell the truth in the circumstance, it is obviously a lie. But the commandment is broader than that.

    There are two common evil cases that aren’t even thought about because of their very banality.

    The first is when you disagree with an OPINION, and then accuse the other person of “Lying”. On many issues only God knows the precise truth. Much of this is seen in the very argument on what the Bible / Church / Christianity says on this very subject. When we disagree, the faithful thing to do is to discuss and present our cases and determine the root of the difference, then agree to disagree. From the Bible, Jesus says both “The Father is Greater than I”, and “I and the Father are One”. Logically, from a human perspective, this is a contradiction. Most things are, something like highlighting verses in different colors because we consider some things more or less important, and the difference is which verses get the important color.

    But the second is worse and the cause of the greater evils both in kind and magnitude. There are some things you don’t know, or say are true but not because you have personally examined things, only that you trust someone else to have spoken the truth about them. To take a simple example, if someone asks directions, and you aren’t sure, but give directions as if you knew exactly, you could get someone lost. Or “is the road closed” – and if you don’t know, it is fine to say “It is normally open at this time”, or to give experience, or “Al said it was open yesterday”.

    Paul cautioned that not many should be teachers as they will be held to a higher standard. I know many things, but the greatest majority are mined “truth” which vary in credibility from metaphysical certainty to hearsay.

    Credibility requires appending your certainty or any qualifications when you make a statement someone else will consider to be the truth.

    Consider “Doubting” Thomas. The Apostles all spoke the truth, so why wouldn’t Thomas believe their testimony? He was less blessed because he didn’t believe. Yet Paul said the Bereans were more blessed because they verified what Paul said.

    A final note: There is a path from truth, to goodness, to beauty. Things are literally ugly, but that is how we know how serious the infection is, and it has even reached goodness and the truth itself. To the point they think nothing of bizarre pornography on the Internet including YouTube, but will ban videos that have no violence, ugly images, but simply speaks unpleasant truth.

    These two posts are very, very, important since Truth is foundational. Without it there is nothing else. The USA was founded on natural law, which is another way of saying “Truth”. Without the light of Truth we will enter another dark age.

  5. Warfare is based on deception. Closer to home, when encountering a criminal who is “interviewing” you /sizing you up as prey. It is wise imho to lie. It is a force multiplier if used wisely…

  6. Sigh…

    It’s Christmas Eve and I know this thread is already two days old and maybe no one is going to read this. But for the record, I’d just like to say that I agree with Hugh and Capt’n Rawles:

    Jesus was the perfect, sinless, spotless Lamb of God!

    JW’s comment above is spot on. What follows is what I discovered independently, to add a bit more flavor:

    John 7:2-10 (NKJV): 2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. 3 His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him.

    6 Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.” 9 When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee. 10 But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.”

    In this passage “Jesus is actually answering an evil temptation to show himself as Messiah – and will anyone say that it is wrong to lie to someone essentially doing Satan’s work?” http://www.tektonics.org/af/didjesuslie.php, an article worth reading.

    NOTE: Satan’s temptations didn’t just end in the wilderness described in Matthew 4, but CONTINUED to present themselves in different guises throughout Jesus’ ministry. The full underlying temptation here presented in the brothers’ comments may have been to announce himself as Messiah, raise an army, overthrow the Romans and rule the kingdoms of the world, thereby circumventing the cross.

    Based on our discussion of this lying issue, we would firmly insist that this was NOT a “lie” in the sense of “maliciously intending to mislead others who had a right to know or ask.” This was Jesus using deception to oppose evil and prevent an evil outcome.

    It was *essential* that Jesus’ identity as Israel’s Messiah NOT become widely known, so that his ministry could come to completion in the final training of his followers and his necessary sacrificial death on the cross. He was protecting his mission’s integrity and schedule by concealing from his brothers that he *was,* later, going to be at the festival.

    Modern *Jewish* writers point to this story as an example of Jesus lying. But from what we’ve seen, it wasn’t lying (as a sin prohibited by God) ANY MORE THAN using deception to foil evil plans is prohibited by God.

    [asterisks mine, for emphasis – SFG]

    Trust God. Be prepared. We can do both!

    ShepherdFarmerGeek

    P.S. As far as the point that “Jesus never lied” therefore we must NEVER lie, it’s worth also asking which aspects of the life of Jesus are we REQUIRED to emulate and which ONLY reflect his different situation and life mission. As it happens, I believe that Jesus was the Perfect Man in all things.

    But I also believe we have to be less glib and more thoughtful about which aspects of his life we are obliged to emulate (bacon anyone?). A situation requiring him to utilize lying to oppose evil may just not have come up (other than what JW and I describe here).

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