Can I Deny my faith to save someone's life?

Let’s imagine the following situation:

I get caught with my girlfriend and my family in a trap by some muslim terrorists.
One terrorist point his AK-47 to my face and says: “Deny your Catholic Faith and become a muslim or we gonna kill your girlfriend and all your family!”
My girlfriend is an atheist and my family are so.

Can I lie and say that I deny my faith to save my girlfriend and my family? Or can i deny my faith, become a muslim, renounce the muslim faith, and become catholic again days later?

I know that when you have a death threat upon you to deny your faith, the scripture says to preffer get killed than deny it. But when it is about other’s life? And when they are not christians and have nothing to do with my faith?


Sure you can, but it would be a grave sin. As a general principle, you cannot commit evil for a good cause.

Turn the hypothetical around. Perhaps your faith at that moment will be enough to save your girlfriend and family. Perhaps you would become the agent God uses to bring them to eternal joy.

What if they kill your girlfriend and family anyway?

Isn’t that sort of what Peter did? And did Jesus afterward say ‘well done, good on you for saving your life and the lives of those who were with you’? No.

Our lives, and the lives of those around us, are not ours to control, to give or take, they ultimately belong to God. Souls are far more important - and it is bad both for my soul and the souls of those Christians around me at the time if I stumble and fail such a basic and clear test of faith.

And the contrariwise - there are stories from ancient Rome of pagans watching Christians being persecuted who, seeing how steadfast and fearless and devoted to Christ they were even under circumstances of torture and death, would literally jump out from the arena stands to go join them and become martyrs in their turn. Such a harvest of souls is far more precious than any amount of saving physical skins.

Of course you certainly CAN NOT.

If you did, you would commit a grave, GRAVE sin. Say if this were a real situation, wouldn’t you or your girlfriend become a martyr?

Short answer: no.

Yeah, he would become a martyr…and that is cool…but what of the girlfriend and family who are atheists who would be killed? Surely hell for them if they get killed…and not another chance to come to Christ afterward.

I think it is a grave sin, but Peter did do the same thing…and he still became saint

Yes, but only because he repented. And how much better to have nothing to repent!

As for the girlfriend and family - as has been pointed out they might well be killed anyway. In which case his denial of Christ will either teach them that Christ isn’t worth standing up for, or that Christians are too weak to stand up for Him. Either way, not exactly calculated to inspire them to come to Him or become Christian.

If he did have the courage to stand up for his faith - at worst it will leave them unmoved. At best, it will inspire them as those ancient Romans were inspired … after all, people are always at least curious about ideals that are worth dying for. Not so much about ideals that are dropped whenever they become inconvenient.

I guess I am just thinking ahead in the hypothetical story where everyone gets saved. no one gets killed, the girlfriend and family recognize Jesus as their true God, all go to confession and live happily ever after serving God for the rest of their lives.

I am a screenwriter in my spare time, so I love a happy ending. lol.

If it were me personally, i would never deny God. But I am usually always alone, and never with people that i would worry about to get killed along with me.

In my opinion, it would be prudent to superficially deny your faith in this scenario to save the lives of others. The martyrs of the past died for the faith due to government persecution or in an attempt to spread it to pagans. Thus, their dying for the faith served a greater good - ie, making a public statement to the government or showing pagans that one is trying to convert how important the faith is. If you are just kidnapped and are not a missionary and some terrorists are threatening to kill innocent people, I see no good that would come of proclaiming the faith to them through a willingness to have others undergo martyrdom. It just seems fruitless to me. That is just my opinion.

Excuse me, have you not hear of the theological definition of baptism of blood?

Besides, Peter did no such thing, and in his denial to know Christ he was fearing for his own life, not trying to server others. Furthermore, he was shocked by what had just taken place before his eyes, to the extent that without the triple negation and the prophecy of Christ we may even consider whether or not there was deliberate consent!

Like I said…I would never do it myself. But I can see where someone else might be hesitant because other peoples lives are at stake as wll.

And Peter DID deny Christ 3 times. Whether he was sorry about it is besides the point. he still did it.

You are mistaken if you think that any person, before death, is not given a chance to repent and accept salvation, no matter what the circumstances of their death. Nobody is in hell who would have “come to Christ afterward.”

What you are talking about here is not actually renouncing your faith, but lying to the terrorists: your faith will remain intact, and you will then be lying to save someone’s life.

So, consider this:
Exo 1:15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:
Exo 1:16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.
Exo 1:17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.
Exo 1:18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?
Exo 1:19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.
Exo 1:20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives

They lie to save others’ lives, and God blesses them.

I would also point out that Canon 1323.3 and 5 of your canon law states that “No one is liable to a penalty who, when violating a law or precept …] acted under physical force [or] acted, within the limits of due moderation, in lawful self-defence or defence of another against an unjust aggressor”.

Ok…so lets say the girlfriend and family that are in this hypothetical situation, as the OP stated , they are atheists. they get killed immediately by these terrorists in the story.

If they say they are sorry as they are being killed, they will go to Heaven or purgatory at least?

I just was in another thread where someone states if I die on my way to confession while i am in mortal sin, I am going to Hell, no question. And I am not an atheist. I do try to abide by God’s rules as best I can.

What if these people who are about to be killed by terrorists change their ways after such an event? Sometimes it takes such an event to bring about religious change in peoples lives. My brother never was into God and religion. Until his daughter drowned and died. The doctors were able to save her, thank God, and that brought the religious change in that family. Now they go to church without fail every sunday.

i would never deny God to save my own skin. But I can see where someone might be hesitant if other peoples lives where at stake as well.

Try telling that to those who insist that aborted babies, miscarried babies, and unbaptized infants and toddlers who die without baptism are in hell.

Awesome! :thumbsup: It’s great to hear some good sense and a well supported argument for just what I thought was lacking before this entry.

For all of your arguments, no matter how you cut it, denying your faith for any reason is a mortal sin. And throughout history, anyone who would coerce anyone of any religious belief would and did kill them upon their denial! Then, either way, the denier is stuck.
Only the naive would think otherwise.

The early Christians I am sure were faced with similar situations but they did not deny their faith. It is a grave sin to deny your faith.

I’m no Catholic, but I think it’s obvious that lying to save your gf and your family would be the right thing to do.

Remember, the gf in the op is an atheist, so if she dies now, where is her soul going to go according to the Catholic view? How would allowing her to die – by not lying – be good for her soul? Lying could in fact save her soul, because she may covert to Catholicism later.

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