Command conflicts

Has anyone here ever had to address the dilemma where you had to sin to avoid another sin? How do you address these situations?

e.g; I once had to deceive a friend that wanted to go buy something illegal. He asked if I could take him. I don’t like saying no to people, it’s just one of my quirks. I didn’t want to be guilty by accessory, nor did I want to lie so I played semantics and told him “I can’t right now” even though I had nothing going on.

You did not “have to” take that course, you elected to do so.

May I ask what was the illegal purchase?

It was the herb that leads to gluttony.

This seems to me to be more of a mental reservation than a lie, and probably not at all a sin, though it is something of a grey area of morality and some would disagree with me.

Essentially, a mental reservation is an equivocal statement that is in some real way true, yet may be misunderstood by the person hearing it to mean something else, and that misunderstanding may be considered acceptable if there is a just reason. There are differences between strict mental reservations, which the Church condemns, and wide mental reservations, which are generally agreed to be acceptable depending on circumstances.

See here: newadvent.org/cathen/10195b.htm

Of course, some might argue that you have a duty (fraternal correction) to tell your friend why you will not drive them, but it is understandable to want to avoid such conversations. Perhaps next time you should just be open and frank with him.

But to address your key question: “Has anyone here ever had to address the dilemma where you had to sin to avoid another sin?”

No, there is no such situation. We are always to avoid sin. There are no situations in which we *must *sin.

A better example might be Corrie Ten Boom and lying to hide Jews from the Nazis, or Northerners hiding runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad.

I think this is a better example.

The first thought that came to my mind was, Well, even in that case, you don’t have to tell a lie in order to protect your, um, stowaways. (Not the right word, but whatev.) You could use mental reservation to say something true that your questioner will likely misinterpret.

My second thought was, But can you be expected to do the mental gymnastics necessary to keep up the front without falling into lying?

And then my third thought was, Well, if you tried to do your best and ended up crossing the line into lying, you might be able to make a case that you did it under a kind of duress induced by stress, and therefore your freedom in telling the lie was mitigated. There might be other ways to arrive at a similar conclusion.

I do think I’ve seen that third option talked about before, to return to the OP’s question of whether this has ever been addressed. If people have lied in order to protect someone, that’s not good or okay, but I think a case can be made that the person in that situation, who tries not to lie but falls into it, either lacks knowledge or lacks consent. And I think that may eliminate the guilt involved.

I’ve seen it talked about frequently, and you are quite right.

The best thing to do is to make an acceptable metal reservation. If the stress of the situation (Nazis with guns and cruel intents) leads you to lie, there is clear duress and lack of free consent; ie cuplability for the lie is mitigated.

It was the herb that leads to gluttony.

It’s highly likely the same situation will occur again, so it would be good for you to think about it, and prepare for it.

I’d suggest just saying “No”.
If your friend asks “Why?”, you can simply say because you care for his well-being. (Or something similar.)

Instead of looking at it as a situation where you must choose the lesser of 2 evils, look at it instead as a situation in which you should choose the most loving, charitable action. (There is nothing loving about aiding drug use and addiction for someone.)

“I don’t want to be an accessory to a petty crime” is an option. “I’m not a taxi driver” is another. “I don’t want to” is an option, but you’ll probably have to follow up with, “Because…”

Another option is to find friends you don’t have to hide your convictions from.

Can somebody explain this mental reservation thing?
Is it like saying something that can have two meanings?

But if I say something with the intention that the other person misunderstands it, isn’t that also a kind of lying, or is that not really lying?

This question has come up with me before.
For example:

1)If I don’t want somebody to speak to me because an uncomfortable situation might come from it, and I turn my head so that the other person thinks I have not seen them: Is that a lie?
2) in church if I don’t want to shake hands during the “kiss of peace” with somebody next to me who is coughing into their hand and I change seats just then when we must kneel so the other person is not offended but just thinks I changed because the other place is better for kneeling (let’s say, before I was sitting on a chair by the side)… is that a lie?

Just two examples; things like that have happened to me a lot.

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