Hard time understanding what a lie is

this is one of the hardest things for me to understand specially the one of acting something. so i have this situations at least for now, i would like some explanation to them also.

is it a sin to tell the kids that Santa brings them gifts?
let’s say that there is someone killing persons, and you are next to some bodys. would it be a sin to pretend you are dead, so he does not shoot you?
or like in this movie about hitler, let’s say you are with the military, and the enemy gets to go where you are, would it be some sort of lying to dress up like a civilian so they dont pay attention to you? or in another case to use their uniform and pretend to be marching with them until you get to a place you can escape from.

:popcorn:

Have you read the Catechism on lying? It’s one of the difficult teachings, like turn the other cheek. Sorry to be so brief; have to go…

is it a sin to tell the kids that Santa brings them gifts?
No. It’s not a sin to tell stories. Would it be sinful to read your children Lord of the Rings? That being said, I personally don’t get into the whole Santa thing with my kids, but it isn’t sinful to do so. Here is a short article on this topic from around Christmas time.

let’s say that there is someone killing persons, and you are next to some bodys. would it be a sin to pretend you are dead, so he does not shoot you?
No. You have a right to protect your own life. You are under no obligation to tell people truths they have no right to know.

or like in this movie about hitler, let’s say you are with the military, and the enemy gets to go where you are, would it be some sort of lying to dress up like a civilian so they dont pay attention to you? or in another case to use their uniform and pretend to be marching with them until you get to a place you can escape from.
See above.

Apart from what it says in the Catechism, Catholic Answers Magazine has a good article on it; also this article from New Advent may help a bit: newadvent.org/cathen/09469a.htm

I’ll just quote a couple parts from there:

“St. Augustine and St. Thomas, Catholic divines and ethical writers commonly make a distinction between (1) injurious, or hurtful, (2) officious, and (3) jocose lies. Jocose lies are told for the purpose of affording amusement. Of course what is said merely and obviously in joke cannot be a lie: in order to have any malice in it, what is said must be naturally capable of deceiving others and must be said with the intention of saying what is false. An officious, or white, lie is such that it does nobody any injury: it is a lie of excuse, or a lie told to benefit somebody. An injurious lie is one which does harm.”

"St. Augustine held that the naked truth must be told whatever the consequences may be. He directs that in difficult cases silence should be observed if possible. If silence would be equivalent to giving a sick man unwelcome news that would kill him, it is better, he says, that the body of the sick man should perish rather than the soul of the liar. Besides this one, he puts another case which became classical in the schools. If a man is hid in your house, and his life is sought by murderers, and they come and ask you whether he is in the house, you may say that you know where he is, but will not tell: you may not deny that he is there."

Obviously, a lot of people disagree with St. Augustine on this.

In all 3 of these cases, I don’t really see this as lying since one isn’t actually stating any untruths.

There are two broad points of view that I am aware of:

  1. That a lie is anything I say which is/I believe to be false and which I say for the purpose of convincing someone else that something that is/I believe to be false is true.

  2. That a lie is anything I say which is/I believe to be false to a person who has not forfeited his right to be told the truth (this condition sometimes not mentioned explicitly, but always seems to be implicit) and who does not have a right to the truth in question, in order to convince that person that what is/I believe to be false is true.

The second makes a distinction along the lines of the distinction between killing someone (in self defense, say) and murdering someone. People appear to be divided as to which is the case. Option 2 seems to make the most sense to me, however there is a lot of weight behind option 1. Fortunately, most of us won’t be in a life/death situation where it matters.

Santa Claus etc is supported and opposed by people on both sides. Some say that it is straight up lying, others that it is simply involving children in a story.

Not that I am an expert but I thoght the commandment was not to falsely accuse your neighbor which is different from a lie to save a Jew from the Nazis. Falsely accusing your neighbor is lying but not all lying is falsely accusing your neighbor.

I read the differences above between Thomas and Augustine; I would definitely side with Thomas. Not sure if someone had a gun to my head and demanded to know something that would lead to others suffering how I am under any obligation to share that knowledge. They have no right to know as someone else stated.

My nephew at age 6 asked, “Is Santa real?”, and I began to launch into a speech about how pretending can be fun, but that I never lie to him, and…then he interrupted me with, “Well Santa IS real!” I said, “Ok, case closed.”

As for the commandments, I recall, “Thou shallt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” This to me suggests do not lie about other people. Do not libel or slander others. It does not seem to say one cannot ever say anything untrue. But then also all law hinges on loving God with all your heart and treating others as you would like to be treated (unless you are a sexually perverted masochist), so if a lie in any way harms someone, it seems wrong to lie in that case.

But then, enemy soldiers are not harmed if you hide from them using deception, but then if in their state of deception they relax enough to let down their guard, and your side slaughters them, well…Oy vey…someone take this post over please.

Here are a few excerpts from the Catechism on lying:
2482A 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.”

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.

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…

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. (1740)

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.
Nowhere does the Catechism say that a lie is morally acceptable under certain circumstances. It does not say it is okay to lie in order to secure a greater good (such as protecting someone’s life). It says that one may be silent about the matter so as not to reveal the truth.

Apparently this is a difficult teaching for most of us. We want to promote the good by telling falsehood. However, the Catechism elsewhere teaches: “One may not do evil so that good may result from it.” (1756)

Is it a cultural thing, to attempt to justify lying by the good intentions of the liar? Is there any place on the earth where people speak only the truth? Do you know of any person who speaks only the truth?

well, that is what is harder to me to understand, because of the part where acting becomes a lie, for example in the third case you would try to mimic their outfit and even their movements the best you could to not lift any suspicion. that is where the problem starts, are you lying by actions, like saying: “I’m one of you” while you are not, or are you concealing the truth the best way you could and can’t be taken as a lie all the acting you might do.

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