Monday, June 11, 2012

Lying is Wrong-Right?

Lying is wrong - right? Not just because your Momma told you so. It is a law written into the universe. All religions forbid lying.

But is lying always wrong?

Consider the lie told by an Italian physician during World War II. As the Gestapo entered the Jewish ghetto, the Gentile doctor gathered as many Jews as possible, 45 in all, into his small hospital. He admitted the Jews as patients, and wrote on their medical charts they were suffering from a made-up disease he called "K Syndrome." When the Nazis came to collect the Jews, he warned them that "K Syndrome" was highly contagious and deadly. He told them to enter the hospital at their own risk.

Afraid of contracting "K syndrome," the Nazis fled and never returned.

Should the good doctor have told the Nazi soldiers the truth?


  1. The older I get the more I see the 'grey' in life and following after Christ~ I think many see 'Christianity' as a black and white rule book of unbreakable definitive's. There are many unarguable parts of the Bible, i.e. God is who He says He is, He can do what He says He can do.... but as in this story of the gentile Dr. hiding Jews- Jesus did alot of 'unorthodox', things (living in the grey- by Sadducee judgement ) during His stint on earth. That 'still small voice' is sometimes very loud and clear on what is the 'right' thing to do.... even when it is labeled as the 'wrong thing'. As trite as the adage has become, "what would Jesus do" (love one another), does fill in the grey matter between the black and white bookends we humans impose on ourselves and others. I think Jesus is in the grey and invites us to join Him. The grey can often cause us some consternation as we grapple with it- it pushes us into deeper relationship with Christ as we seek Him more to discern 'what He would do' in any given 'grey' situation. And growing closer to Christ is precisely the point! We walk by faith in, and hence closer to, Jesus in the grey.

  2. IMHO there is never a good reason to lie and every reason to tell the truth. Bernie (movie released in April) has a lot to say about "good" people who lie and what the results can be.

  3. Good response from a colleague of mine:

    Yeah, this is a classic ethical / moral question. The other way to ask it is - if you were a Christian living in Nazi Germany harboring Jewish stowaways in your attic - if the Gestapo came to your door and asked if you here hiding Jews, should you tell them the truth?

    The answer is - of course NOT! A few comments:

    - Look at Rahab in the OT. She lied about hiding the Jews in Jericho and she is called "righteous" in Hebrews even though she lied and was a prostitute!

    - The ninth commandment about not "bearing false witness" does not mean we should always tell the truth. Not at all. It really means we should not lie against our neighbor in a court / legal setting when we are functioning as a "witness." Remember that in the OT, a matter was to be confirmed by 2 or 3 "witnesses." (That's one reason we have 4 gospels and not 1). So, if you're called to be a witness or on the witness stand then you need to tell the truth on your neighbor's behalf. That is not to say we can be liars - or should be. However, the Bible absolutely makes room for "Godly deception." There are all sorts of instances when we need to engage in Godly deception - in war, in investigations, etc.