Let’s talk about lies. The Bible has a lot to say about it: lying is bad. Bearing false witness is bad. But what about when the truth would do more harm than good, do you tell the truth then? I’ve had conversations with people who said yes, even when it comes to life-or-death situations, you should tell the truth. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I wouldn’t.
Lying is bad because it is the opposite of God; He is Holy, and cannot tell a lie. Lies are what first caused Adam and Eve to decide to fall. Lies are telling non-truths.
Recently, I watched The Debt, a film about Israeli agents sent to capture a Nazi that escaped justice, behind the Berlin wall. The next thirty years is spent living a lie that ultimately destroys all three of them, emotionally. In the end, it becomes a morality piece about telling the truth.
And that’s where I take an issue with it. Granted, I think it’s a great film. It’s one of those rare thinking man movies that asks you to use your brain and consider what you would do in that situation. And it pushes for the truth to be told… but throughout, I was asking, “why?”
Universally telling the truth means sometimes hurting other people. Is a lie always bad if you are protecting someone else rather than yourself? What if someone stuck a gun in your face, and asked you where the Jewish student was hiding? Would you tell the truth then? Would lying be a sin? Of course it would, but can sins be necessary? Sin is sin, and God hates all sin… but is telling the truth always our first option even when it might get someone else hurt or killed? The people who hid the Jews during the Nazi occupation never said, “I’m not telling you that.” They said, “I don’t know.” They did know. And they lied about it. Were they wrong? In my opinion, no, they weren’t… better to save an innocent life than tell the truth.
Once, I read something by a Christian author who said, “If you cheated on your spouse and repented, and they never found out, keep it to yourself: your guilt will be your punishment, rather than the cold truth of it hurting the person you love most.”
Do you agree? Or do you think couples should be brutally honest about affairs? Would the truth do much more harm than good? I don’t have an answer to that. Sometimes I do think our sin is between us and God, and should not be shared by anyone else, but if you made a vow to someone and broke it, maybe they deserve to know about it.
In The Debt, I don’t know that they should have told the truth. Why? Because it is selfish to do so. Yes, it clears Rachel’s conscience. It lets the death of one of her friends be meaningful. But it also stirs up the past in a way that does very great harm to her daughter, both as an individual and her credibility. Maybe Rachel should have simply lived with her guilt.
Maybe I am wrong. What do you think? Tell the truth always, regardless of circumstances…. or should some things be kept to yourself?