[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 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!
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.”
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!”
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!
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part two of a two part entry for Round 80 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
- An assortment of products along with a one hour consultation on health and wellness from Pruitt’s Tree Resin (a $265 value).
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances.
Round 80 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.