“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” is something that many faiths are taught, but this is not about general lying, it is a very specific form of lying known as perjury. The criminal offense of perjury consists of making a false statement under oath, either in writing or verbally, that one knows is false, and that is material to the proceedings in which the statement is made. It seems that God does not want you to lie with your neighbor’s wife, or to tell lies about them, but it is not a sin to tell a lie. People have a tendency to classify lies into categories of either being big fat lies, blatant lies, or insignificant white lies. Some people feel that if they cross their fingers behind their back that anything can fly, because this gesture will cover up any lie.
There are a number of scriptures that seem to condemn lying, but the truth can be told in such a way that it gives someone the wrong impression, like when President Trump took Dr. Fauci words out of context to mislead everyone. Trump has been very dishonest about the Coronavirus and the way he played down how deadly this pandemic was, and that was sinful, because it caused unnecessary death among people who believed him. If you tell a lie to protect somebody, or if you mislead somebody to about your own private information, that should be OK, as it is not harmful to others, even though this may be frowned upon in the Bible. There are cases when lying is acceptable and there are situations where telling a lie may be the right thing to do.
People holding certain positions have a duty not to lie, but everyone tells lies, as this is a fundamental part of our social life. If you tell your wife that those jeans don’t make her look fat, that could be a lie, but it would be an acceptable response to avoid trouble. It would be better than saying, “Fat compared to whom”, or “Not as fat as you look in the other outfit”, or “No, they are fine, it’s the pint of ice cream you eat every night that makes you look fat.” Married men must learn how to avoid those loaded questions and if you have to lie to keep your wife happy, then it is for the best. If you are fine with the way your wife looks, then don’t treat this as a question where you are expected to give a yes or no answer. Tell her that you love her and tell her what you love about her and that will make her feel better about herself. If you want to have a better life, it may be necessary to tell a few lies.
Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #91 which asks, “Is it even possible to live a normal life and to not ever tell a lie?”