Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Truth or Consequence?

The other day, I was having coffee with my lawyer-friend, Marsel. We had a spirited discussion on truth and lies. His position is that it's ok to tell a "white lie." But is there such a thing as a "white lie?"

One defines a lie as "an intentional violation of the truth." Lies are clearly condemned in Scripture (John 8:44; 1 Tim. 1:9, 10; Rev. 21:27; 22:15). There's no such thing as a "white lie" (or "black lie") as far as God's Word is concerned. A lie is a lie.

Scriptures, however, mentioned examples of lies made by God's men, namely: Abraham (Gen. 12:12, 13; 20:2), Isaac (26:7), and Jacob (27:24); also by the Hebrew midwives (Ex. 1:15-19), by Michal (1 Sam. 19:14), and by David (1 Sam. 20:6).

It appears that there are some situations where lies are justified by circumstances, like in the biblical case of the Hebrew midwives in Exodus 1. Should they tell the truth, or lie to save Moses or the first-borns from sure death? Was the "white lie" told by the midwives the right thing to do?

Philosopher Immanuel Kant once reasoned that you certainly don't owe the murderer the truth, so it's right to lie to him. In the biblical case of the midwives, my opinion is that they did right in not blurting out the truth. One doesn't help murderers with information. Lives were saved when they lied. It appears then to be a very good opportunity to lie for a good cause.

However, it must be said that even if you don't owe the murderer the truth, you owe it to yourself to hear and speak the truth to your conscience. Though a "white lie" in the rarest of occasions seems justified, it may still do harm to the person telling the lie. Lies introduce falsehood and inconsistency into one's mental life. The more you lie, the easier it could develop into a lying or dishonesty habit.

The question now is, how well are you in relationship to God after you've told a "white lie?' And what will you do with your newfound knowledge and power after the lie? Will you continue telling the truth after that occasion of lying?

1 comment:

Marsel said...

A lawyer is duty bound to defend client or he'll be disbarred!