Is There Such A Thing As A Good Lie?

Posted: November 16, 2013 in Articles
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Since our government has been caught in a multitude of lies – a multitude, so many that before the people can deal with one lie, they are having to cope with the next – we thought we’d write a little bit about lying. What we are particularly interested in is this: is there such a thing as a good lie? We know what the US federal government tells us are the very worst kind of lies. They blatantly deceive the American people. They look up unashamedly and lie for their own sakes, for their own good. They do not care who they hurt, just so long as they get what they want – which is usually more power and more money. But are there good lies?

The 9th commandment is “Thou shalt not bear false witness (or testimony) against your neighbor”. We know that God hates lying lips as He frequently states in the Bible. We know that Satan is the father of all lies. We also know that Rahab lied to save the lives of two Israelites. We know that David “lied” when he acted insane to save himself from Saul’s wrath. Yet Rahab and David are held up for us to honor.

In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the boy named Huckleberry Finn runs away from his hometown with an escaped slave named Jim. Since Huck has to hide his own identity because he is believed to be dead and since he is with Jim, a runaway slave, Huck lies a lot to people he meets. There are two other characters in the book (the king and the duke) who also lie, but they do it in order to get money.

Huck tells lies to keep Jim safe and tells other lies for the good of others. The king and the duke lie and dupe people out of their money in order to benefit themselves.

Were the Christians who hid Jews in their homes wrong to lie to the Nazis? Is the child who tells a stranger his parents are home when they are not, wrong?

We can’t explain why it would be okay to break the 9th commandment in certain cases. We don’t even know if the “good” lies are breaking the 9th commandment. We wouldn’t want to use our logic to contradict the Word of God, so we plan to ask a preacher we trust. We’d also welcome any thoughts anyone has out there 🙂

  1. Jeff says:

    Great article! I have said for years that I could prove from the Bible that a lie isn’t always a sin. Many people have disagreed with me (some quite vehemently), but that doesn’t change the way i feel. It’s important to note the wording of that ninth commandment. What it does NOT say is “Thou shalt not lie.” It says not to “bear false witness” against your neighbor. That sounds a lot more like gossip to me. Saying something about someone else that is not true. You mentioned Rahab. She lied and she was rewarded by God by having her life spared when Jericho was destroyed. Another case is the Hebrew midwives who lied when Moses was born. They were also rewarded by God. People who smuggle Bibles into countries where they are illegal are also, in effect, lying.

    All that being said, we should never presume that it is okay to tell a lie. I prefer to err on the side of caution. As a Christian, I should always strive to be truthful to people. We tread a thin line when we start playing judge.

    Thanks for inviting me to read this! 🙂

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