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Would you ever intentionally lie?

Posted: 13 Aug 2020, 20:30
by Minyan Man
I was recently studying the 10 commandments. I thought I was familiar with them. I also thought
there was one that said: Thou shalt not lie. (I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed.)
The 9th commandment is closest: thou shalt not bear false witness...

Throughout the scriptures there are numerous teaching, that we should be honest in
all of our dealings in life. With each other & with God. The 13th article of faith says:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men...
The dictionary definition is: a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.
This brings me to the question above: would you ever intentionally Lie? Under what circumstances?
I'm not talking about exaggerating on a resume or in a job interview. I am asking, is it ever justified to knowingly tell a lie?

Here are (3) situations that relate to the church for me.
- Temple Interview & Tithing Settlement. I know what the questions are & I answer them directly (yes or no). Nothing extra.
If I can't answer this way or feel uncomfortable with my answer, I don't "take the meeting".

- If I am asked by opinion, I'm direct & to the point without trying to hurt anyone's feelings. (I'm not always successful.)
I try to know my audience & answer accordingly.

- All other times I'm silent. When I can't support the "party line" silence is the best policy for me.

I wish we could be open & honest with our opinions, feelings & thoughts without being judged.
It pays to be cautious if you want to stay active & participate at church. It can be frustrating sometimes.

Re: Would you ever intentionally lie?

Posted: 13 Aug 2020, 22:09
by Arrakeen
For me, honesty is hard to evaluate without context. While in many situations lying is wrong, I think there are some situations where it is ok, and even situations where it is the moral choice. If telling the truth would lead to an immoral outcome (like ratting out human rights activists to an oppressive government), then you should lie. I believe generally in minimizing harm to others more than any absolute moral principle. I would say lying is wrong if it hurts other people. It also destroys trust, but then it depends on how much you actually care about the relationship. Lying to a stranger is different from lying to a friend or spouse.

I guess the question of lying depends on several factors. Who would you be lying to? What is your relationship with them? What are the consequences for yourself and for others of lying vs telling the truth?

Personally, when random people ask how I’m doing, I’ll straight up lie and say I’m doing fine even when I’m not. It’s personal and none of their business. It won’t hurt them to not know the truth. I’ll be more honest with my family, since I trust them and want them to trust me. And since they actually care about my well being, it would hurt them if I wasn’t able to be honest with them.

I also reluctantly lie to keep an ecclesiastical endorsement at BYU. I wish I could be more honest, but frankly I’m in a situation where nobody would be helped by my honesty and nobody would be harmed by my dishonesty. I have nothing to gain and a lot to lose by telling the truth. It’s too late for me to transfer, so I have to do what I have to do to graduate and get out. Self preservation wins this one. I mostly keep it to lies of omission, but I will lie as necessary if I get cornered.

I wish I never had to lie, but the realities of life get in the way. Maybe I’m just an immoral person who gives in to temptation. But I have a hard time trusting people with the truth when I fear it could be used as a weapon against me.

Re: Would you ever intentionally lie?

Posted: 14 Aug 2020, 12:29
by DarkJedi
Don't we all lie all the time, intentionally or not?

Re: Would you ever intentionally lie?

Posted: 14 Aug 2020, 13:57
by Minyan Man
I would agree that we lie. I'm not sure about all the time.

Re: Would you ever intentionally lie?

Posted: 14 Aug 2020, 16:01
by DarkJedi
Minyan Man wrote:
14 Aug 2020, 13:57
I would agree that we lie. I'm not sure about all the time.
Point taken. All the time is too broad a generalization for all of us.

Re: Would you ever intentionally lie?

Posted: 14 Aug 2020, 16:43
by hawkgrrrl
I told my daughter that if a bishop ever goes on some kind of prurient fishing expedition with her in an interview, she should know that he is a perv and not someone in whom she should confide. I advised her the best thing in that situation is to give him the simplest answers that will get him to back off, even if it's a lie. Knowing her, it probably wouldn't be a lie, but all women need to be on our guard in these interviews. The more of a prude, the more of a perv. The more they ask, the less you should tell.

Re: Would you ever intentionally lie?

Posted: 14 Aug 2020, 17:08
by Curt Sunshine
The command isn't, "Thou shalt not lie." It is, as you said, "Thou shalt not bear false witness." The difference is significant and important. Changing the actual commandment does serious damage to it.

In ancient times, it was what we now term "committing perjury" (knowingly lying about what we have seen directly while under oath). It is the foundation of the more difficult standard taught by Jesus when he said, "Swear (promise under oath) not at all" - which rests on the idea that we see through a glass, darkly, and can't be 100% certain what we believe we see is fully accurate. Rather, Jesus said to say, simply, "Yes," or, "No," to official questioning. (The implication is to avoid letting others trap you into unintentional false witness.) It is what he modeled during his trials and discussions with the leaders conducting them.

Also, believing in being honest and never lying also are very different things.

Finally, it is impossible to lie unintentionally. Unintentional mis-statements are not lies. They simply are inaccurate statements.

As to the topic question, absolutely, if I believe the truth will do more harm - even as I try never to lie.

Re: Would you ever intentionally lie?

Posted: 14 Aug 2020, 20:58
by SilentDawning
This is a tough question. My answer is that under normal circumstances, I always tell the truth. However, there are circumstances where I would likely be less than truthful, put spins on situations, or withhold information if the consequences of outright, naked truth are severe. There are times when blatant honesty would lead to severe consequences that in my view, aren't worth the character points that come from full disclosure and absolute honesty.

There seems to be evidence that God is willing to let us sacrifice one smaller commandment to keep a higher one. For example, it was appropriate for Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit so she and Adam could multiply and replenish the earth. Also, God, in certain situations, seems to subscribe to Utilitarianism. We all know that He said it is better that one man perish (through murdering Laban to get the plates of brass) than an entire nation perish in unbelief. Therefore, sometimes, obedience to certain commandments is sacrificed in order to keep other commandments, or to produce widespread benefits.

If telling a proactive lie is the lesser of the two evils, then I would be inclined to be less than truthful. I would not lie in order to keep a lesser commandment than honesty.

Re: Would you ever intentionally lie?

Posted: 15 Aug 2020, 14:28
by Curt Sunshine
We all know that He said it is better that one man perish (through murdering Laban to get the plates of brass) than an entire nation perish in unbelief.

Just a personal and administrative edit:
We all know that the Book of Mormon says Nephi believed God would justify killing Laban to keep his future people's nation from dwindling in unbelief - that Nephi considered his posterity's righteous existence to be a higher commandment than not killing a wickedness man.
(Please don't critique that passage in this thread. I will try to find an older post about it and bump it up. It applies here only to the concept of honesty within competing situations.)

Re: Would you ever intentionally lie?

Posted: 16 Aug 2020, 11:19
by Minyan Man
There is another reason I ask this question. My wife has been diagnosed with depression & bipolar. If you met
her she comes across as someone who has her life completely balanced & together. In reality, there are moments
when she barely holds it together. She is retired & we have been married for almost 50 yrs. She has a Psychologist
& Psychiatrist who she sees on a regular basis. She takes medications & has been hospitalize once.
Her whole mission in life is to convince the "professionals" that she is well.

The reality is that there are times when she is delusional. I am 76 yrs old & she is convinced that I am having
affairs with women in the neighborhood. That's all I'm going to say about her diagnosis.

She can make an accusation & the next day be back to her normal self. Or, she will continue the conversation
and say: "Just apologize & say you'll never do it again". The temptation is to apologize for something I haven't
done (lie) and hope that satisfices her. The full explanation is too long & boring for most of us here.

My conclusion is: I can't lie for something I haven't done just to appease someone who is sick.
If I did, it has the potential to make this problem bigger than it already is. Thanks for listening.

(It feels like I'm writing to Dear Abby.)