About lying


#1

I have a question about lying. I know it’s wrong, but life isn’t always simple. I know if you are deceiving someone to take advantage of them or get out of something wrong you’ve done that’s wrong. But what about lying to protect someone from someone’s malice? For example there are people who do not like my sister and they want to know where she works to stalk her. They’ve never asked me where she works but if I told them she worked at a place she used to work is that wrong? When the Nazis were after the Jewish people lying to them about hiding people; would that be wrong? Complex.


#2

Yes lying is wrong.

Catechism:

2485 By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. The deliberate intention of leading a neighbor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity. The culpability is greater when the intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences for those who are led astray.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a8.htm#2485

Also though note:

2488 The right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional. Everyone must conform his life to the Gospel precept of fraternal love. This requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it.

2489 Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.283


#3

Until they do ask you why worry? Or if it does, then say no I am not going to tell you that . Actually foo if they went to her former work place, might they there not give her new place of work? So the less said the better

If she is being stalked, tell the police?


#4

My sister is IMO “a weakling” she seems to not want to take up for herself. She may see this as some kind of “sin”. She says the police don’t do anything with these people. They tried she said to run her off the road. She is a coward. but she insists on me not saying anything. She seems to be terrified of these people. She for some reason dated one of them one time who spent 15 years in prison for accessory to murder. His father is in prison for life. I can’t tell her anything. She got away from them now. I think she is possible embellishing when she says the police “don’t want to do anything”.


#5

Hard one indeed. But all the more reason not ever to give any possible way to find her, Great sister to protect her like that…And the police can do nothing without a formal complaint probably.


#6

Right so I’m rusty on this, but doesn’t the church teach that you don’t have to tell the truth if somebody has no right to it? So in the case of the Nazis, they have no right to know if you are hiding Jews, so it’s not really seen as “lying”???


#7

Interesting. Not heard of that …


#8

One may not though lie…

(ok a bit more-- please follow closely)

Lying is an evil (no matter how small)

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2485 By its very nature, lying is to be condemned…

(and Paul said the idea that one could do evil for good was justly condemned in his letter to the Romans)

scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a8.htm#III See the whole section there.

But - surely you can lie to protect someone? Surely the good intention makes it ok?

No that would not make it “good”.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1753 A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means. …

scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c1a4.htm#II

Now please follow the rest closely.

It can be said though that one can use certain licit “mental reservations”…or “discreet language”. (see the CCC quote ABOVE).

But what if one does not in that extreme example? One is put on the spot with that life or death request?

Now lets say one is in the very serious event of the Nazi at the door… and one can not find those discreet words…and others lives are at stake …and one thus ends up lying. What then? Well of course one should have found the other way. But in our weakness we sin …indeed we commit venial sins daily …hence they are called at times “daily sins” for which we pray daily “forgive us our trespasses”…and certainly ones culpability will likely be even further reduced by the event of the Nazi’s with the guns at your door…so ones venial sin will be reduced to an even smaller venial sin (if there is culpability at all)…which God in his knowing mercy can wipe away as one glances at the Crucifix with prayer after the Nazi’s leave…

God knows that in our seeking to live the varied virtues in our lives we will have venial sins in the process…that we being “saints” …being a new creation in Christ in the state of grace…in charity …living in Christ will still have “daily sins” to pray for (and work against daily). He loves us and continues to purify us with his love. (Not that such is an excuse to not seek to overcome our sins more and more in our lives …nor ought we seek or plan to lie in this case …but rather seek to find the right way).

Now all this does not make it “good” to lie. Or make it not a sin to lie (be it ever so slight). Nor does the ends in this circumstance “justify” the means of the lie.The end does not “justify” the means (see CCC etc) It remains a lie. A sin. But so too does the intemperance that one exhibited that morning at breakfast with too many eggs or the little anger one expressed at ones spouse that afternoon. If one falls here too…it will be another venial sin. Another weakness (I am not encouraging sin here --but it is a reality in daily life). Something that ought not have happened. That is: One ought to have found a good way.

But it is somewhat understandable that it may happen in such events of Nazi’s at the door… even to Christians. To saints.

And there is really no point in trying to argue too much about such…

(PS: perhaps one could argue that there is a different “object” involved-- (hence not be a lie–similar to where taking say food by a starving person may be not “theft” by reason of the object…the definition of theft being something different and the universal destination of goods being in effect etc --see CCC 2408–such is a change in the object --it is a different thing than theft)…but again I leave that to the professional theologians to argue out and to the Magisterium to decide scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c1a4.htm#I and scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a7.htm#II)

PS #2:

Catholic Answers Apologist’s answer – similar to mine: catholic.com/quickquestions/is-lying-a-sin-if-done-to-protect-someone-from-death


#9

The OP certainly has no obligation to tell anyone where his sister works, and if they are going to stalk her, he shouldn’t tell them. A simple “that’s none of your business” would do.

Lou


#10

Can get to her to get up and file one.


#11

It would do for me she says that would make things worse. She is in a position where she has to do something and she won’t do it. Seems to have a problem functioning properly or something. IDK if these people would take a simple “non of your business”. All the more to have the police to arrest them IMO But she doesn’t seem capable of that.


#12

Telling them where she works isn’t going to make it any better for her, though. If I were in your position, I wouldn’t tell them anyway, no matter what my sister said. I really hope you can persuade her to go to the police.

Lou


#13

These people and I use the word “people” loosely shave their head live with lice, and vermin. When they leave a house many times it’s condemned. She needs to send the message she’s not their friend. Her fate is really in her hands. If she’s too cowardly IMO to do something, well she got herself into it and if I sometimes make a suggestion she will attack me. If she would do that to them there would be no problem. One can only have so much sympathy for that IMO.


#14

I second this. I simply don’t understand why people seem to think that if they are asked a personal or inappropriate question, they either have to cough up the information or lie. It is not required of us to tell all our personal business to anyone who asks. So you tell the truth - which is that it’s not their business.


#15

Just don’t make it easier for them, that’s all I can say. I do feel quite sorry for your sister, though.

Lou


#16

This post of yours is befuddling. I must be missing something here…

Are these people relatives of yours? Neighbors? Co-workers? Are they calling, texting, emailing, or showing up at your house or place of business to ask where she works?

Don’t answer the phone when they call (nearly everyone has caller ID, so block their calls. Same with texting. Don’t reply. Same with email. Don’t reply. As far as in person, simply tell them that’s not their business and you’re not at liberty to discuss those things. If they are showing up at your home or job, then you need to contact the police about being harassed. I guess I don’t understand what the big issue is regarding your involvement…you simply either avoid those people, don’t respond to them, or seek legal assistance if they are bothering you.


#17

Lying is wrong but the reasons for lying are not always wrong. Telling the truth is right but the reasons behind telling the truth can be wrong.


#18

Perfect reply; thank you


#19

Lying contradicts the purpose of the faculty that is used to tell the lie (the communicative faculty)… So it is against human nature, which was designed by God. It is always wrong, meaning, against His Will. Even when the intention is good, the object remains evil.

There is just no way around it. It’s a bullet that we have to bite. But of course, there is the doctrine of broad mental reservation, that is, to tell a misleading truth… Imagine your sister works near the Canadian embassy… You could say, “Oh, she works near Canada now.” It’s a truth, but it is misleading. Just an example - one must be creative.

The better question is why are you talking about these details of your sister’s life on the internet instead of to the police…


#20

As for your last question I don’t know that they would do anything without her filing a complaint. She is not willing to do so. So my saying anything to them would be useless in this case.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.