Is a Christian obligated to tell the truth after he lies?

I dont want to lie but everyone lies sometimes even really devout Christians. So what if you tell a lie. Do you have to tell the truth to the decevied person even if the truth is something you really dont want him to know?

If its something about that person, then I would tell them the truth. But if its something that doesn’t even involve the person, I wouldnt say it. I’d go to confession and move on from there. I dont really know what the Church thinks about this, but Im just offering what I think is most logical.

It would depend on the circumstances; ask your priest in confession if you’re not sure.
Mary.

Like you said everyone lies just like everyone steals, it could be like me today i walked out of a store with their pen, i wont go to jail but stealing is stealing just like someone may download something for free again im guilty. My point is you have to apply common sense and there is varying degrees of an offence. You don’t say what kinda of lie is it. You have to judge if by telling the truth it will resolve an issue or whether it is just a little lie if there is such a thing. But if its saying you were out when you were in and it isn’t hurting anyone in anyway then whats to be gained. So long as no-one is getting hurt or done over in some way then i would over up a prayer to Jesus and ask for the strength to help be able to do things without lying. If praying to God doesn’t do it for you then as the poster above says go to confession if its a burden that only by the help of a priest can help you with but my advice and that’s all it is is ask God for the strength as i said and move on.

God bless.

The answer really depends on the lie. If you told a lie that led someone into error (for example, causing him to make an incorrect decision or judgement), or caused harm (for example, harming his reputation), then you have a duty of reparation. If the lie conceals a truth which he has no right to know, then you do not have to tell the truth (but in the future it would be better if you remain silent or use discreet language rather than tell a lie). Please refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There is a lengthy section about lying. Here are just a few passages:

2464 (excerpt): The eighth commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and wills the truth**…**

2483 (excerpt): 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**…**

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. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error.

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.

2487 Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven. When it is impossible publicly to make reparation for a wrong, it must be made secretly. If someone who has suffered harm cannot be directly compensated, he must be given moral satisfaction in the name of charity. This duty of reparation also concerns offenses against another’s reputation. This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the extent of the damage inflicted. It obliges in conscience.

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.

I dont want to lie but everyone lies sometimes even really devout Christians. So what if you tell a lie. Do you have to tell the truth to the decevied person even if the truth is something you really dont want him to know?

Lying is always evil to some degree, and is always to be avoided. When faced with a situation of the sort you describe, one should find some way to avoid lying or outright telling of the truth - broad mental reservations and the like.

The definition of lying provided by the Catechism at 2483 is problematic, as it is inconsistent with what is later said at 2485, viz. “It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others.” If the purpose of speech is “to communicate known truth to others”, then lying is always and everywhere opposed to the purpose of speech, regardless of whether it leads them into error or not. (This is a good post that discusses the problem with respect to the Catechism and its various changes on this position.) A lie - which is properly defined as a statement at variance with the mind - is inordinate of its very nature, because one is saying something that is opposed to what is in his mind - and the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. Lying is therefore always sinful. Regardless of whether it is a venial or mortal sin, it is always wrong, and sin should always be avoided, venial or mortal. For those who argue that “white lies” or lies of utility are okay - one should remember that, as the Catechism unflinchingly and correctly affirms, it is never permissible to do evil that good may result from it.

Michael Cronin’s excellent and massive work The Science of Ethics (in two volumes) contains a very good and in-depth treatment of the topic, especially mental reservations - go here for the relevant section, courtesy of the Internet Archive. Austin Fagothey’s Right and Reason also has a good account of it. If you like, you can search Edward Feser’s blog for his posts on lying - he links to pretty much all of them in this helpful post.

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