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Rahab and lying

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Zymologist View Post
    Oh, ok. Thanks. I guess bearing false witness and lying are pretty much the same thing then?
    Pretty much....

    Exodus 23:6,7 You shall not wrest the judgment of your poor in his cause…

    Leviticus 19:11,16 You shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another…

    Deuteronomy 19:15-21 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or …

    1 Samuel 22:8-19 That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that …

    1 Kings 21:10-13 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against …

    Psalm 15:3 He that backbites not with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, …

    Psalm 101:5-7 Whoever privately slanders his neighbor, him will I cut off: him …

    Proverbs 10:18 He that hides hatred with lying lips, and he that utters a slander, is a fool.

    Proverbs 11:13 A talebearer reveals secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit …

    Matthew 26:59,60 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false …

    Acts 6:13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceases not to speak …

    Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, …

    1 Timothy 1:10 For fornicators, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for …

    2 Timothy 3:3 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, …

    James 4:11 Speak not evil one of another, brothers. He that speaks evil of his …

    (from Treasury of Scripture Knowledge)
    The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

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    • #17
      Even though God does not lie Himself, He can use spirits and humans to punish others by way of deception, 1 Kings 22 for example.

      This wiki article also goes into more detail about how Jews handle breaking God's Laws to save lives:

      In Judaism, Pikuach Nefesh (Hebrew: פיקוח נפש) describes the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious consideration. When the life of a specific person is in danger, almost any mitzvah lo ta'aseh (Command to not do an action) of the Torah becomes inapplicable. (JohnnyP: exceptions are things like blasphemy, idolatry, etc.)
      A related issue here that may be good for another thread somewhere is the permissibility of Jesus healing on Sabbath to save lives (The laws of Shabbat and the Jewish holidays may be suspended for the purposes of pikuach nefesh.).

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      • #18
        Thought the witness thing was in a court of law. In everyday life you don't have to tell the whole truth all the time, you can not say anything at all.
        If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Christianbookworm View Post
          Thought the witness thing was in a court of law. In everyday life you don't have to tell the whole truth all the time, you can not say anything at all.
          The "in a court of law" is only one aspect of community. In fact, Exodus 16 doesn't reference "court" at all....

          [16]*Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
          The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

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          • #20
            "Bearing false witness" is a legal term - it basically means perjury. Because lying to the court can easily cause injury to others and to the cause of justice, this makes sense.

            While the expectation of truthfulness has some validity, I think the better view is violation of trust. In dealings that are neither criminal nor immoral in nature, the other party(ies) necessarily trust the first party (you, in this case). Degree is irrelevant to the violation (although certainly relevant to the degree of violation) - the fact remains that Bob has to trust you if he is going to have dealings with you (business or otherwise). When you lie to Bob you have violated his trust. This would be true whether you told Bob that hideous tie looked fine in order to spare his feelings (which is kinda cruel itself because then Bob makes a fool of himself where you could have spared him that) or you start dating other people while engaged to Bob (a betrayal even if not technically adultery). There is no justification for such false dealings ('white lies' may have one exception - I'll get to it).

            Rahab is an altogether different case. In that instance she is dealing with a moral matter (God's people doing what God told them to do versus a town not exactly on God's good list). Since God gets to give or take His property (which would basically be everything since nowhere does God relinquish His proprietary rights to His creation) as He sees fit, obeying God takes precedence over rooting for the home team. Not getting God's guys killed certainly falls within the 'doing what God wants' category. Where justice is not at issue (here only because of God's direct involvement) lying to protect life would necessarily be a moral action.

            Where justice is at issue (a legitimate authority exercising legal jurisdiction) lying to protect the murder suspect is an immoral act. Why? Because God appoints legitimate authority - so opposing authority that is acting within the rules (where those rules do not conflict with God's own laws) is opposing God. Help raise money for his defense if you think the guy is innocent - but don't hide him in the attic.

            Where authority is not legitimate, it can be rightfully opposed. Turning Bob in to the Gestapo is a bad thing. Telling the difference can be tricky, but in general, if a government distains the laws of God and the rights of its people, its legitimacy is dubious in the extreme. In Scripture, government both rules and serves. We see primarily the rule - but both the period of the Judges and the later Kings have courts as dispute settlers in common - it seems to have been a primary domestic function. External defense, international relations, et al, are all also 'services' to the people (not letting the Vikings pillage is indeed a service to those likely to get pillaged). And yeah, it brings the whole idea of conquest into question - which is why European kings spent so much effort on justifying their territorial lusts. Anywho, government which fails in its service duties to its people has its legitimacy rightfully called into question - and telling the nice Nazi that there's nothing but dust bunnies in your attic is perfectly justified.

            Lastly, justifiable 'white lies'. In the rare instance where the person gains no benefit from the truth (Bob ditching that tie is a benefit - to him and everyone else) and would instead suffer harm, it is possible to justify such a lie. Telling Mary on her deathbed that her son just got himself killed in a car wreck does her no particular good, she isn't gonna have time to grieve, and instead does her harm (grieving w/o enough time to actually start to heal) so telling her he was delayed and will see her as soon as he can could well be justified. She'll see him for herself before she knows of the deception. That's with a BIG caveat - it may not be true that the knowledge would only cause harm (Mary may be able to process grief well enough to come to terms with it quickly - I couldn't but I'm not Mary). So yes, I'll allow that some 'white lies' can be justified the vast majority cannot be. if you can't say something nice, don't say anything (Um, I'm not the one to ask about that tie, Bob) - but don't lie just to get yourself off the hook.
            "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

            "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Sparko View Post
              what about lying to spare someone's feelings? (white lies)
              What is wrong with no comment?

              For the main I think this is a matter of judgement. Anyone who, for example, says, "Yes there are some Jews hidden here, I cannot tell a lie," is committing a grave sin. That person is putting their own self righteousness above the life or welfare of someone else.
              Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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              • #22
                Tellaura did a nice job, although I always felt like the moral hierarchy argument is powerful too.

                According to the books on Middle Eastern culture that tektonics supports, there is also the concept of an "honorable lie," which would solve this issue rather nicely as well.

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                • #23
                  Wonder what Kant would have thought about the concept of an honorable lie?
                  Last edited by Christianbookworm; 01-28-2014, 09:39 PM. Reason: typos
                  If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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                  • #24
                    Didn't Kant say that it would be required to tell the truth even if somebody came in with an axe, looking for the location of an intended murder victim?

                    And, yeah, I have read something on the Tektonics page about the "honorable lie". I don't know if I would resort to that as a facile explanation, though. There is a risk of going into "what was culture back then, must be right" territory.
                    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                      Didn't Kant say that it would be required to tell the truth even if somebody came in with an axe, looking for the location of an intended murder victim?
                      Well, I'd fire 2 or 3 rounds from my Ruger Security 6 .357 magnum, then I'd tell him whatever he wanted to hear.
                      The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                        Well, I'd fire 2 or 3 rounds from my Ruger Security 6 .357 magnum, then I'd tell him whatever he wanted to hear.
                        Or you could call the police after locking the door...
                        If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Christianbookworm View Post
                          Or you could call the police after locking the door...
                          yeah, we're going off in a whole 'nuther direction, my fault..... but if he's IN the house, why would I want to lock the door? And he has an AXE!
                          The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                            yeah, we're going off in a whole 'nuther direction, my fault..... but if he's IN the house, why would I want to lock the door? And he has an AXE!
                            Why would you let in some ax wielding nut in the first place???
                            If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                              I've noticed that some Christians seem to have a lot of problems with the story of Rahab, because she clearly lied yet is commended for doing so twice in the New Testament (Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25)
                              The problem is the moral framework they hold, which is to just follow moral rules as strictly as possible. This approach fails whenever the rules don't apply, or when different rules would command different things. Biblically, some rules are more important than others (Matthew 12:3-7), whereas some principles and virtues are more important than many of the rules (Hosea 6:6, Galatians 5:14-23, etc).

                              TLDR: discard deontology, embrace virtue ethics.

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                              • #30
                                Would they also think it is wrong to cheat at solitaire?
                                If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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