Answering evasively rather than lying

Now I try to avoid lying as much as I can. I usually do that by answering evasively instead… Consider this example:

I go out often with person A to hang out with person B.
My parents sometimes ask me about who I’m spending time with. Rather than saying the whole facts I simply answer ‘I’m going out with person A’. I don’t like to give out many details in terms of who my friends are.

Is this still considered lying?

For the record, I’m an adult.

2483 Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error.

It doesn’t sound like you are trying to lead “your parents” into error.

I am going to guess that the border between when you are/aren’t under your parents supreme authority has to do with whether or not they are financially supporting you. But, I’ll assume you’re an adult in the sense that you have a job, are paying for your own apartment, and mostly independent.

In that case, I think your parents are probably curious, and trying to start a conversation. I am 17 and live at home, and there are times when my Mom asks me where I’m going in the “you’ll be safer if I know where your are” sense. But there are also times where she asks me questions because she wants to find out who my friends are and what funny stuff happens. You may find that your parents would be pleased to hear details from that interaction, such as what you like about a person and why that friend is crazy. They might not be holding you accountable, they may just want to be friendly and hear funny stories.

On the other hand, if you’re living at home, then they have the right to know where you are, who you’re with, and when you’ll be home. In that case, they will feel obliged to protect you/keep you out of trouble. Parents are that way, they spent 20 years worrying about you and it’s a hard habit to break
If you’re in college and they’re paying your tuition, they may be wanting to know who you’re with so they know you aren’t partying with the bad kids and goofing off on their dime. And they have a right to know where their money goes!

Thank you for your responses.

I however have some troubles understanding this:

Firstly, what is meant by ‘acting’ against the truth? Sometimes when I don’t want to be truthful and I don’t want to lie, I purposely hang out with person A that way I can see person B without having to lie about it. It gives me the chance to answer evasively? Is that manipulative on my part?

CCC 2482 "A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving."The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: “You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

CCC 2483 Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man’s relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.

CCC 2484 The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.

CCC 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.

CCC 2486 Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.

Did you say something that was not the truth? No. You assume the intention of the question is to elicit further information that you are validly unwilling to share. By not expanding on your answer you are not lying. That is why barristers tell their witnesses to answer questions in cross examination with yes or no answers. No lie.Uncomfortable avoidance of unwarranted
attention? yes.

For reflection, instead of your parents, what if Jesus asked you the same question?

I find this a useful way to check for truth in our hearts relative to the Catechism quotes given by thistle.

Blessings and peace.

Look not just at what you technically do, but your intent. If the only reason you are hanging out with person A is so that you can hang out with B, but have A as some sort of an “alibi” then is your primary intent to use A as a screen for hanging out with B? In otherword, do you talk to B and say “hey, let’s grab A” or is B just often in the company of A? You’d hang out with A in either case, but B being there is a bonus.

If it’s the former, then it is deceitful to specifically do so to obfuscate the truth. It is one thing to leave out details, but is is completely different to manipulate reality to hide your true intent. I’m not sure how skating on a technicality will be viewed at the final judgement.

You’re misreading the word “error” here. It does not mean, in this context, moral error. It means “having the wrong idea” or “being mistaken”. Thus, the OP clearly is attempting to lead his or her parents into error.

I understand the point you’re making. To be specific, I would hang out with A regardless, yet ask for B to come along too.

Why not just say you’ve been out with some friends and leave it at that.

If A wasn’t available and you wanted to hang out with B would you do so and answer truthfully if your parents asked? Really my point is if you trying to hide the fact that you are hanging out with B then you are walking a razor thin line.

It’s not so much this specific instance (i.e. hanging with B but using A as a screen), but that it can become a cancer in your brain. Constant evading and manipulation to avoid lying can become a destructive pattern that can impact relationships. I have a friend that almost destroyed his marriage when he used to go to the bar with an old friend. He just neglected to mention to his wife that they also meet one of his old girlfriends. The three of them were just friends, but when his wife decided to surprise him and join him and his buddy one evening it came out that the three of them met for drinks at least twice a month. Although he wasn’t having an affair, the lie of omission caused sever damage to his relationship with his wife.

My point is, using one truth to obfuscate another truth can backfire. If person B is someone that your parents disapprove of would it cause damage to your relationship if they were to find out that “Hanging with A” really meant “hanging with A (and that person you despise, B)”?

I was under the impression that we can answer evasively when people don’t have the right to know the truth. So by answering evasively does that mean we can leave information out whilst not directly lying?

I don’t understand how the Church teachings on lying apply to real life examples.

On second thought, I think answering evasively in fine, in the case you described, considering that you are an adult. It would be better, probably, not to be evasive – but being evasive isn’t wrong.

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