False Testimony

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
— Exodus 20:16

I was recently reading a story about a man who was sentenced to death row because the mafia bribed two men to testify against him that he committed a murder that the mafia had actually committed. You can easily use the wicked power of false testimony in a courtroom setting to ruin a life. But even on a more mundane level, when it comes to small lies in life, you don’t have to teach a child the benefits of lying, they figure it out! Lying is beneficial, let’s be honest! 

Some worldly people have this figured out whether they are a businessman, lawyer, real estate broker or salesperson, obscuring the truth is quite handy—but is it glorifying to God? I think we will see here why it is not.

Using untruthful statements to the hurt of others is the heart of the matter here. The worst form of this is perjury when it would harm someone else. In general, all promoting of untruthfulness, including heresy, is covered here. Hyperbole and satire are not covered (allowed), and there is also a rare caveat where it is possible to deceive in order to love (e.g. tricking your spouse into a surprise birthday party), and also withholding the truth from those who are unworthy of it or do not have authority to access it is also permitted (e.g. someone calls you up and says tell me your social security number and credit card number). Nazi at the door asking about hidden Jews? Do not cast your pearls before swine, absolutely you can deceive the wicked in order to love the innocent. Smuggling bibles across communist borders is another example that comes to mind. Espionage as a military combatant in a just war scenario--also allowed for the sake of loving your compatriots.

Jesus exemplifies these latter exceptions when he pretends as though he would pass the disciples' by on the boat (Mark 6;48) or on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24), and also remains quiet when the Pharisees ask a question to him and eventually even refuses to answer them at all (Luke 20).  However, these are rare exceptions that prove the rule.

A great question to ask is: “What unlove or hurt is caused to a person by lying in this situation?” Let us not only deny evil-speaking, but let us actively promote the truth!

In Prayer Today:

Seek the God of truth.