Is It Ever Okay To Lie?

Is It Ever Okay To Lie?

Before we attempt to answer this question, we must establish the definition of a lie. I also wish to mention, that the definition I’m giving is what I call an “at least definition”, which means that regardless of the extent or details, the definition of “lie” at least must have a fundamentally basic meaning. Here is an example of what I mean by an “at least definition”.

Imagen you and your friend are driving down the road in your pickup truck, you suddenly notice a sign that says “No Trucks” and your friend asks you, “does that include us?” While there may be some debate on what constitutes a “truck”, we know that whatever the definition of “truck” includes, it at least has to include a semi. So while some topics have grey areas, those grey areas never change the parameters. And to use the grey areas to blur the parameters is unfair because words have to mean “at least” something. The person who is more interested in finding exceptions rather than establishing a rule is simply an excuse maker.

So the reason I choose to take such a narrow definition in this particular blog is that I don’t want to bog the discussion down with endless hypotheticals and qualifications. For example, we can discuss sometime if “lying” includes leaving your house lights on while traveling to trick thieves into thinking the house is occupied. Yet, even if we were to conclude that such an act is included in the definition of lying, that would do nothing to excuse you from purposely breaking the narrow definition of a lie.

So let us begin, I’m going to contend that the minimal definition of a lie is “Speaking that which is known to be false”. Here is one particular verse among many to support this definition.

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. Eph 4:25

Here we see an explicit definition, lying is speaking that which is false to your neighbor. The inference from this verse can be expressed like this…

To NOT lie = to speak the truth. Therefore, To lie = to speak that which is untrue.

So with this definition, is lying ever okay? Is it ever not a sin? The answer is no. The Scriptures are clear, lying is sinful. Since the Scripture explicitly condemns lying, the burden of proof falls on those seeking an exception. Here is some of the textual support…

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19

A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish. Proverbs 19:9

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds… Colossians 3:9-10

He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight. Psalms 101:7

Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. Leviticus 19:11

The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. Psalm 58:3

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Revelation 21:8

These verses prove the issue to be extremely important, it is not something to be taken lightly. As was said earlier, those seeking to justify lying have the burden of proof. One who seeks an exception is going to have to bring explicit Scriptures where God says “lying is okay…sometimes”. A few passages of people in the old testament lying proves nothing more than the fact that God uses sinful people to accomplish his own purposes while looking past their shortcomings for a time.

Yet, I’d like to briefly touch on two common objections for those who may be convinced by them.

1. The Egyptian midwives were not explicitly blessed for their lying, but as the text says “because they feared God” and because “they didn’t kill the babies at birth’. So while the specific midwives that appeared before Pharaoh lied, this was not the reason why God blessed the midwives in Egypt as a whole. He blessed them for not murdering the babies at birth, regardless of their shortcoming when some of them lied.

2. The same can be said about Rahab, she was praised for her faith in “housing the spies”, not because she lied. In fact, when the new testament mentions Rahab it omits the part about her lying and praises only the admirable aspects. One may ask, how can someone who lied be praised for her faith? Simple, the same way Abraham was praised for his faith even though he had his sinful shortcoming of having relations with his wife’s servant. I don’t see many Christians using God’s praising of Abraham to sanction his sinful mistakes. Abraham and Rahab both committed sinful acts, yet God blessed them for their non-sinful acts nonetheless.

I’d like to caution again, let us be careful about trying to make exceptions to such clear condemnation of lying with rather weak objections using unexplicit texts. Let us be transformed by the grace of God to put away lying from our lives completely, that we may always speak truth to our neighbors.

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