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Is it right to lie for the sake of politeness? To keep a surprise party secret?

We know that lying is defined as "making an untrue statement with the intent to deceive." We know it is a sin (Leviticus 19:11; Proverbs 12:22).

But is it right to lie for the sake of politeness?
Should we ruin every single surprise party we know when someone asks us a question related to it?

Clarify Share Report Asked November 29 2013 Mini Samuel Bourassa

For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.

Mini Victor Caldeira

To lie is a sin doesn't matter in which circumstances a lie is spoken.Can you imagine JESUS lying in order to surprise the disciples?How could HE have saved us?HE never sinned therefore HE never lied.

November 29 2013 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

(Mark 3:23-34)

Was Mary not his mother? Of course she was. Jesus was making the point that spiritual bonds were more important than the physical. (He also did this right after pointing out the evils of slander, and the unforgivable sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit).

(Matt 26:59-67)

Why did Jesus remain silent? (Not tell the whole truth" to every question ever put him?) Because one should not cast their pearls before swine (Matt 7:6), and they would not have understood anyway (Acts 28:23-28).

Jesus did not tell falsehoods, but he also did not speak the 'clear truth' in many instances. He did indeed keep silent or veil the truth or hide the truth until later (Mark 4:30-33. II Cor 4:3, Mark 8:27-30, Matt 9:30, Matt 11:27, Luke 9:45).

Furthermore, prophesy itself is veiling Truth (with a capital T), often with something that is on the surface 'not quite true'.

For example: Isaiah 7:10-17. Ahaz -never- saw this sign, which was supposedly given to him as an assurance to him of future victory over Aram. Yet, it was a perfectly true sign - Jesus was born of a virgin, and gained the dominion over all kingdoms of the earth, and one day all of them will be subject to Him in finality. Was this a lie? No!

In fact, the Eternal Plan could be considered one big 'Surprise', known only to God the Father and revealed in portions throughout time. (Matt 24:36, 1 Peter 1:3-5, I Peter 1:10-12, Isaiah 53, I Cor 13:12, etc)

November 29 2013 Report

Stringio Colin Wong

Jennifer. Thank you so much for illuminating this issue. You are an amazing blessing to the eBible community.

November 29 2013 Report

Mini Jose de Carvalho

These are all interesting analogies. The question that begs asking is then: If criminals want to kill my son, and knock on the door looking for him, in order not to lie I should let them kill him?

July 01 2014 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

If one follows the pattern of Psalm 34 (written by David about his pretending to be mad before Ahab to escape with his life 1 Sam 21:12-14), Josh 6:17 (Where Rahab is spared because she hid the spies and lied to their pursuers), Ex 1:15-20 (where the midwives are commended for not listening to the king and instead letting the children live), etc-

It does not appear we "must tell the truth" when it serves the purposes of injustice to do so. Rather, if we know the person intends harm or that to give them the information will lead to an unjust act perpetrated against an innocent, then we are to serve the higher justice.

Likewise, we are not to bear false witness and thus pervert a just judgement (such as lying to protect a friend from jail, or to get a person we dislike into trouble, or to cover up our own unlawful deeds, etc). Similarly we are not to spread tales or slander.

Just as many other things in the Bible have a 'standard' rule, but with exceptions [Such as 'honor the king' even if we dislike something - but not in things where the king is asking us to serve idols or oppose God], we should likewise err on the side of truth but be willing to see the larger moral truth/justice of the matter and weigh things accordingly.

Truth trumps truth, so to speak, in cases like the one mentioned above. Now, if it were the police (not criminals) out to arrest your son because he was a serial killer, then you would not be justified in lying to them.

July 01 2014 Report

Stringio Colin Wong

Well said Jennifer.

July 01 2014 Report

Mini Jose de Carvalho

Thank you Jenifer for the additional comments.

It is clear that I was referring to an injustice rather than the derailing of the purposes of justice; this vindicated by the fact that I stated ‘criminals wanting to kill my son’.

Nevertheless it appears that we agree.

I inserted my question in the wrong place, or I must address my question to the originator, as I was actually questioning Victor Caldeira’s line of reasoning for the purposed of application, not yours, which was as follows:

“To lie is a sin doesn't matter in which circumstances a lie is spoken. Can you imagine JESUS lying in order to surprise the disciples? How could HE have saved us? HE never sinned therefore HE never lied.”

July 02 2014 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

Notes on John 7:8

"Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because my time has not yet fully come"
{NASB lexicon}

"You go up to this festival, I do not yet go up to this festival because my season has not yet fully come". (KJV lexicon)

Jesus ended up going to the festival, even though his time still hadn't come - in secret, without his brothers - so regardless of the reading, He still misled them. (While furthering a higher truth - He was not going to yet publically announce Himself as Messiah) It's also a play on words (John 3:14, 6:62, 20:17)

ouk - objectively negates a statement, "ruling it out as fact." {mss À, D, K, P, lat, syr s, c, co bo; Chrisostam, Nonnus, Griesbach, Scholz, Old Syriac Aramaic Curetonian 1858, Netsle-Aland Greek New Testament/United Bible Society, Latin Vulgate, Nestle 1904, Tischendorf, OL manuscripts (codices vercenellis, aureus, colbertinus, palatinus, etc), NASB, RSV, ESV, UBs Greek NT 4th edition, etc

Oupo - not, hitherto not, not yet, still not. {mss p66, p75, etc; Greek Orthodox church 1904, Byzantine Majority Text 2005, Stephanus Textus Receptus 1550, 1599 Geneva, KJV, NIV, etc}

There's no way to be dogmatic about which reading is correct. It would be easier for a scribe to err from ouk to oupo than the reverse, but that is not a proof. And, since oupo can mean 'not' and ouk (do to the greek present tense) can mean 'not yet', then either/or is acceptable. Most translations now pick one and footnote the other.

July 14 2014 Report

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