Surely it is fair to say that there are certain circumstances where lying is justified, right?

Not many Christians would argue about an outright, blatant lie being most definitely wrong. But what about ‘white lies‘? Surely it’s fair to say that there are certain circumstances where lying is justified, right? On the surface, if you ask the question, “Is it wrong to lie?” the obvious answer would seem to be “yes“. But can it really be that simple? What about ‘grey areas’? This cannot be just a black and white issue, can it? Let’s look at some circumstances where a ‘little white lie‘ can surely be justified:

  • Your friends invite you over, but you’d rather stay in. Of course you don’t want to hurt their feelings by saying you don’t want to go – you need an excuse that may not exactly be true.
  • Someone in your church is asked to preach for the first time and they are terrible! The Bible says that we should encourage one another, so it would be nice to say how much you enjoyed it, wouldn’t it?
  • You wake up and really can’t be bothered to get up and go to work. Everyone takes sickies (fake sick leave), don’t they? The company probably even expects it….
  • It’s Christmas, and like everyone else, you tell your children that Father Christmas / Santa Claus will be bringing them presents. Actually, this probably shouldn’t even be on the list, should it? Surely it’s not a lie if everyone else, including the media, is doing the same thing; and after all the children enjoy it so much – which is what’s important, isn’t it?
  • There is a conference at your church, but you really don’t want to go. Your pastor asks if you’ll be there, to which you reply, “Well, I’m not sure, but I certainly hope to be there“.
  • Your child loses a tooth and you tell them that the Tooth Fairy will bring them a coin if they leave their tooth under their pillow. This is a bit like the Santa one – not exactly true, but totally harmless, and surely justified by the enjoyment it brings to children. Again, it probably shouldn’t even be on the list, should it?

What we need to do, is take a look at what the Bible has to say about things that are not true, and get a clear answer as to when lying is justified and when it is not. If you read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, verse 16 says, “You must not lie” (The Living Bible) – that’s seems pretty clear cut, but let’s try another verse, shall we? How about Genesis 39:7? “And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me“, oh – I think that’s talking about something different entirely, so we’ll skip that verse too!

That doesn’t make it sound like lying is very popular with God.

Solomon was given wisdom, so it seems that the Book of Proverbs would be a good place to look. Proverbs 12:22 in the Amplified Bible says, “Lying lips are extremely disgusting and hateful to the Lord, but they who deal faithfully are His delight” – that doesn’t make it sound like lying is very popular with God, does it? But maybe it’s just a one-off verse, let’s try another verse from Proverbs. Here’s one: Proverbs 19:9, “A false witness will not go unpunished, and a liar will be destroyed” (New Living Translation). Oh dear, this is not going very well is it? But maybe we can still find something that justifies lying under certain circumstances, we’ll give Proverbs one more go: Proverbs 6:16-19 (English Standard Version) “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:  haughty eyes, a lying tongueand hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,  a false witness who breathes out liesand one who sows discord among brothers“. Er, probably best if we leave Proverbs and look elsewhere in the Bible! 

Lying is wrong, FULL STOP. 

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Let’s move to the New Testament. Colossians 3:19 in The Message says, “Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire“. Ephesians 4:25 says, “We are part of the same body. Stop lying and start telling each other the truth” (Contemporary English Version). Are you beginning to get the impression, that we are not going to find any verse that would give permission for ‘white lies’? How about one more verse, back in the Old Testament? Psalm 5:6, “You destroy those who speak lies“. The Bible is actually pretty clear, isn’t it? Lying is wrong, FULL STOP. 

There is no such thing as a white lie, there are no grey areas.

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Let’s draw this to a conclusion with the words that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in John 8:44, “You belong to your father, Satan, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. From the start he was a murderer, and he has never stood by the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is speaking in character; because he is a liar — indeed, the inventor of the lie!” (Complete Jewish Bible). I don’t know about you, but I want to imitate my Father God, I do not want my actions or words to imply that the devil is my father. Let’s have a zero tolerance policy towards lying. There is no such thing as a white lie, there are no grey areas. God never says anywhere in the Bible, that it’s alright to lie to protect someone’s feelings. DSC07433Imagine if there was something similar to the Tooth Fairy or Santa, or the Easter Bunny in Jewish culture at the time of Jesus. Can you imagine Jesus telling children about it, as though it was real? Of course not – no untruth ever came from Jesus’ mouth! So if Jesus would never have done it, why is it acceptable for us to do it? There are no excuses, there are no special circumstances. As Christians, we need to be people who can be trusted, people who mean what they say, people who never say something that they know is not true. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” John 8:32. Finally, if someone lies about you, don’t worry about defending yourself. Jesus Himself is your advocate.

If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.

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