Monday, January 30, 2012

Ask the Pastor: Should Christians ever Lie? A Case Study in Ethical Dilemmas


Christians are constantly faced with ethical challenges. How does one take the truths of God’s Word and put them into practice in the “real” world? How far can a Christian go in deceiving others if his goal is a “greater good”? 

For example, is it okay for a Christian to go undercover at Planned Parenthood, lie about who she is and why she is there, all in the name of getting evidence against that organization? I am finding that when we discuss these issues where a person stands on the authority of Scripture makes a huge difference in where they come down in this debate. Think for a moment…is the Bible the Word of God and the sole authority for Faith and practice? I would say that yes, it is. Because that is my premise, I believe that there are moral absolutes. What is a moral absolute? It is something that Scripture teaches that is absolute. In other words, if it is a bad thing, it is bad regardless of the time, culture, or specific circumstance in which it is done. So, the question that we must ask is, “Is God’s ban on lying absolute?” While this is open for some questioning, I believe the answer is a resounding “yes”! 

Within the Ten Commandments, the command to “not bear false witness against your neighbor” is found. While much of the Mosaic Law has been fulfilled in the Person of Christ, the Ten Commandments reflect the basis of God’s moral law; that is, a law that has it’s very basis in the nature of God. To violate God’s moral law is to violate His nature. There is never a case in Scripture in which lying is held up as a case study in what is right in a given situation. Rahab lied in order to protect the Hebrew spies, but her lie was never given approval in Scripture, only her faith (Heb. 11). 

                But what about lying for the greater good (like infiltrating a Planned Parenthood Office), or situations where you must choose the lesser of two evils (like classical situation ethics)? My concern with both of these positions is that they remove God and His Word as the final authority and elevate man into that role. 

Here is the line of thought: abortion is wrong because it takes human life. 
Therefore, we as Christians have a responsibility to put a stop to it. 
The question arises, “how far can one go to help put a stop to this despicable practice?” 

This is where man becomes the decider instead of God. God says, “lying is wrong.” So rather than do whatever can be done outside of lying, man says, “The preservation of life is more important than any other command, so I can break the others in order to save life.” Can you see how this creates huge problems? Who gets to decide how far is too far? 

How about this scenario: You are an undercover police officer who has an opportunity to infiltrate and take down Hell’s Angels, one of the most disgusting criminal organizations in the country. They have been responsible for a lot of lost life as well. So, you lie to get in, and once inside are expected to engage in regular immoral behavior with women who are part of the group.
Is that a problem? 
But you are working towards preserving life IN THE EXACT SAME WAY you would if you were lying to get evidence about Planned Parenthood. 

The difference?? 

You just made a value judgment that says that it’s okay to lie in order to preserve life, but not commit adultery. So, who get’s to decide on the hierarchy here? Do you see the issues here? God’s Word commands truth in all situations, and to not obey is sin against the very moral nature of God! He is Sovereign and can accomplish His purposes without man taking matters into his own hands by compromising the image of God through falsehood. We are to be people of truth, not people of the shadows! We have a higher calling and serve a greater cause! Do we need to do what we can to put a stop to abortion? YES!!! But it must be done in a way that is honoring to God and in line with His commands. 

I’d love to interact on this subject or any others through this blog or my email: pastorbrian@hughes.net. God Bless!!!

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