We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Is Deception Always Sinful?

I’m going to stick my head out with this opinion piece!

Many people have problems with the fact that the Hebrew midwives lied to the Egyptian officials about why the Hebrew babies weren’t killed.  They also have a problem with Rahab lying to protect the Israelite spies.  People insist that these people sinned; that the Bible praises their actions but never says it was okay for them to sin.

Throughout Scripture, lying is condemned because it brings harm to people in some way or another.  There is a commandment against bearing “false witness.”  But does this mean all lying is sinful?  

I think when saving innocent lives it could better be called deception.  As a combat engineer I learned how to deceive the enemy by camouflage so as to save the lives of those hidden; was that sinful lying?  A famous event to deceive enemies was when, in World War II, the British used a body fixed up as an officer with “secret” documents to simulate a victim of a downed aircraft (an excellent movie based on the story is, “The Man Who Never Was”); the documents misled the Germans as to where an invasion would take place, thereby saving many lives — was that sinful lying?   Also during WWII, many Christians lied to the Nazis so as to hide and protect Jews; was that sinful?  Deception is a well-known tactic in warfare for saving lives by tricking the enemy, but is it sinful?

I could go on with many incidents where deception — lying to the enemy — has saved countless lives.  Such events are not rebelling against God, rather they are honoring God by protecting man - who is made in God’s image.

I believe God is a just and merciful God.  When it comes to “deception,” there is the “spirit of the law” which makes ordinary lying that causes harm definitely sinful, while deception to protect innocent lives is NOT sinful.

Therefore, I do not think God would charge the Hebrew midwives or Rahab with the sin of lying.


castiron said...

I agree. They are heros of the faith.

Anonymous said...

I recently saw "The Man Who Never Was". Love those old movies!

I found this article by Clint Archer that kinda went deeper scripturally, and had a different take on the Hebrew midwives and Rabab. I thought it was really interesting! Thought I'd share!


Ms B

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Ms B,

I read Clint's article when it came out, and I disagree with him. Sin is rebellion against God. Deception (i.e. some lying) to save lives is not rebelling against God. I also believe that if these people in the Bible who deceived to protect life were guilty of sin for doing so, God would have noted that they should not have sinned and should have trusted Him. There is not even a hint in Scripture that what they did was wrong in any way. The command against bearing false witness is about causing harm in some way, and when the Scripture talks about God hating lying it is always in the context of causing harm. This isn't situational ethics as Archer claims, rather it is a matter of the intent of the deception.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, good point! Thanks!