Is this lying?

So I introduced my girlfriend to our pastor on a Monday night and told him that she came out to spend the day with me. She actually came out Sunday night and stayed at my parents place where I still live. I didn’t want our pastor to get the wrong impression so I left the part out where she stayed the night. Would this be considered lying? If it is would it be grave matter? Thanks!!

I don’t see a lie.


If the words you spoke contradicted what you were thinking in your heart and mind and you were trying to lead your pastor into error, then you lied. You make the decision yourself; you know what you were thinking in your heart and mind and if their was any contradiction between your heart and mind and your words; you know if you were trying to lead your pastor in error in order to keep him from seeing something you did not want him to see. God bless you.

Perhaps he felt that it isn’t something his pastor needs to know. We don’t need to go around telling everyone the complete truth all the time. The Church specifically teaches that “the right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional” (CCC 2488). The Church also teaches that there are times when we are right to use “discreet language”, which seems to be what the OP has done here. So this may not be wrong here, even if his pastor got the wrong impression of exactly what happened, and even if the OP knew that he may get a distorted impression.

The only mitigating factor I can see here is if there is a pastoral reason why this priest needs to know about this - such as if the girlfriend staying in his parent’s house is a known near ocasion for impurity and the priest has counselled the OP on this matter.

I don’t see any lie either, noting the above considerations.

The previous poster is wrong. The Church teaches that we ARE entitled to the truth. If we have a secret or have something we do not wish to disclose or if unlawful authority demands information from us then we must either keep silent or make use of a mental reservation; but we are ALWAYS required to either tell the FULL TRUTH or we must remain IN SILENCE or make a MENTAL RESERVATION. God bless you.

Please review the Catchism regarding what I have said:

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.

It is not the case that we are always entitled to the truth.

And “discreet language” (as I noted, and is noted in the catechism) is indeed an option when someone is not entitled to the truth, and is I believe equivalent to the older term “mental reservation”. I see nothing at all incorrect in what I said. :shrug:

Note I am not advocating that the OP ought to lie. I just don’t see that he did (unless, as noted, their pastor has some right to the truth on this specific issue).

As I have said in a previous post a lie is when what you are thinking in your heart and mind do not match up to what you say with your words AND you are trying to lead another into error by not saying what you are thinking. If a person does not want another person to know about something because the matter is private, then silence or a mental reservation may be used – but a mental reservation is not a lie and does not involve saying what does not correspond with the 100% truth. Our OP must ask himself if what he said to his pastor did not reflect the actual truth of his heart and mind at the time he uttered his statement AND whether it was an attempt to lead his pastor into error so his pastor would not know the truth of his thoughts and heart at the time. Half-lies are lies and are not mental reservations *and I leave it to the OP to discern *if he spoke a half-lie – this is something I can not judge – only he can, he who knows just what was in his heart and mind at the time he said what he said and knows IF it was said for the purpose of leading another into error. I believe the OP should not have spoken a word about his girlfriend to his pastor if he did not want his pastor to worry about his sleeping in the same house – then he wouldn’t have this problem on his conscience. Usually when our conscience bothers us after saying something it could mean that we have compromised the truth in some way. You say the OP did not lie. I say, only that only he and God knows the recesses of his heart and whether he was trying to lead another into error. God bless you.

Not sure. Is it possible to define what you said as a true mental reservation (as opposed to a strict mental reservation which is a form of lying)?

ready, you seem to know a fair amount about the subject, maybe you could educate us on how to tell the difference?

Either way, I think you would be better off in a situation like that to introduce your girlfriend and say nothing at all about how long she’s staying. If you were asked specifically for that information, you’d have to either answer honestly or decline to answer. But as another poster already said, you don’t usually need to offer up extra information in the first place.

Source please.

But he didn’t tell a half-lie. What he said was true. It is not the whole truth, which is exactly what a mental reservation is…reserving some of the truth in one’s mind and only speaking what they think necessary/relevant.

So the OP could have said “this is my my girlfriend. She came last night and stayed at my parents house, so she could spend the day with me today”.

The OP made what I believe is a pretty clear mental reservation in saying “she came out to spend the day with me”.

No lie here - just reservation of some information that the OP didn’t wish to share.

As per the catechism, privacy is a perfectly acceptable reason to use such discreet language. That the OP is worried about this being a lie of potentially grave matter suggests perhaps some scrupulousity, rather than any actual sin. But again, what is important is whether the truth regarding the girlfriend staying overnight is a truth that the pastor is entitled to or even interested in. Did he ask? Why should he be told about it?

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