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William

Why Lying is Always Wrong

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I think it is always wrong to lie (to state what one knows is not true). But my

friend John Frame and a number of other theologians make exceptions

in extreme cases, such as in war and to save life. The debate includes the

classic moral dilemma that arises in the case where Nazi soldiers come to your

door, asking whether you are hiding Jews.

Recently Wayne Grudem argued in favor of never lying in the festschift to

John Frame; and Frame responded briefly in the same festschrift.1 This exchange

builds on earlier work by john Murray and John Frame.2 Taken together, these

writings lay out the arguments on both sides. Neither side has succeeded in presenting

an argument that would convince everyone on the other side. Frame

indicates that he has “gone back and forth several times”3 on the issue, which

illustrates the difficulty. Is there anything more to be said?

 

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Great topic William.

 

I think the cases of the midwives (Exodus1) and with the spies (Joshua 2) convinces me that at least when a human life/human lives are at stake the saving of life take priority over the command not to lie.

Paul escaped in a basket through a window (2 Corinthians 11:33) but we don't know if those doing so were questioned about it later. So I think the two OT texts are the basis for such situations.

 

 

Now this gets tough...what about people who work for the CIA or FBI. They sometimes have to take on a totally new identity - name, age, birthplace, work history, family etc etc. Aren't all of these "lies"?

Now it gets tougher...I read awhile back that some cops doing undercover narcotics work were given the go ahead to engage in some criminal activity for "the greater good." In order for them to be trusted with 'people of the baser sort' they engaged in drug use and sexual activity with prostitutes. If they didn't they would immediately fall under the suspicion of being cops.

 

Man, it's a dirty and insane world eh?

Edited by Faber
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Greta topic William.

 

I think the cases of the midwives (Exodus1) and with the spies (Joshua 2) convinces me that at least when a human life/human lives are at stake the saving of life take priority over the command not to lie.

Paul escaped in a basket through a window (2 Corinthians 11:33) but we don't know if those doing so were questioned about it later. So I think the two OT texts are the basis for such situations.

 

 

Now this gets tough...what about people who work for the CIA or FBI. They sometimes have to take on a totally new identity - name, age, birthplace, work history, family etc etc. Aren't all of these "lies"?

Now it gets tougher...I read awhile back that some cops doing undercover narcotics work were given the go ahead to engage in some criminal activity for "the greater good." In order for them to be trusted with 'people of the baser sort' they engaged in drug use and sexual activity with prostitutes. If they didn't they would immediately fall under the suspicion of being cops.

 

Man, it's a dirty and insane world eh?

 

Agreed, and unfortunately "we" are faced with such insanity.

 

As far as the spies in Joshua 2, was it the lies that Rahab told that God counted as righteousness or faith?

 

Generally, such arguments that try to warrant lying are "framed" and have an amount of limited closed answers. In the case of hiding Nazis God may provide an opportunity before it is too late. A missed opportunity in other words may leave one forced to lie. But lets examine that.... Personally, I believe God will always provide an option as an alternative to sinning or violating the 9th commandment in this case Exodus 20:16. Not to mention, there is always the possibility of laying one's life down for their fellow man. I know, not everybody is equipped to do so. But lets think about the Nazis that put a gun to a person's head and says bury all these people alive by getting behind the controls of a bulldozer. Many would think that this is a futile attempt. If I disobey I'm dead, and they'll probably get someone else to do it, so I will. Imagine if the Apostles that suffered horrible deaths for the faith only had lied to save themselves. If only they recanted about their witness testimony they could live. Whether the case be about Nazis or Apostles, looking back at history and through the eyes of the survivors, the martyred memory and action may inspire others to revolt or stand firm and die honorably.

 

Now lets examine your argument about the CIA and/or FBI. On the flip side truth is required, say for testimony protection is guaranteed. But if the CIA and FBI are non ethical could we count on their word? Likewise, say a possible informant or even a sex slave was caught in the vicious trade and wanted out, but a CIA or FBI member misrepresented himself or herself by engaging in such actions. Could the person wanting out trust the people demonstrating no personal integrity? Would you trust them and take their word for it?

 

I do not know if the PDF attachment is showing because of your location. But lemme include a clip:

 

Situations of military conflict in the Bible confirm rather than undermine

the intuition that verbal communication has a unique character. For example,

Jehoash gives a speech trying to dissuade Amaziah from entering into battle

(2 Kgs 14:9-10). The speech can only hope to persuade Amaziah if the latter

perceives it as a genuine communication rather than a fake. Similarly, the

Rabshakeh makes a speech as part of the military encounter between the

Assyrian army and Hezekiah (2 Kgs 18:19-35). A letter comes to Hezekiah later

with a similar thrust (2 Kgs 19:14). Both messages rely on normal covenantal

speech commitments, even in the midst of a highly charged military conflict.

In a similar way, Jesus speaks of a king who seeks terms of peace (Luke 14:32),

and of a legal accuser and defendant who discuss terms on the way to court

(Matt 5:25-26; Luke 12:58-59). Military conflict, legal conflict, and potential

battles—situations of extreme alienation—sit right alongside speech that can

be completely truthful.

 

God bless,

William

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Now lets examine your argument about the CIA and/or FBI. On the flip side truth is required, say for testimony protection is guaranteed. But if the CIA and FBI are non ethical could we count on their word? Likewise, say a possible informant or even a sex slave was caught in the vicious trade and wanted out, but a CIA or FBI member misrepresented himself or herself by engaging in such actions. Could the person wanting out trust the people demonstrating no personal integrity? Would you trust them and take their word for it?

 

 

 

I don't think this part works.

 

You're supposed to not lie in order to get them to believe you...

However, the only reason you're considering lying to begin with is because you know they won't believe you, or won't do what's necessary even if they did.

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I don't think this part works.

 

You're supposed to not lie in order to get them to believe you...

However, the only reason you're considering lying to begin with is because you know they won't believe you, or won't do what's necessary even if they did.

 

Christianity is based on truth. I can only imagine the impact it would have on many people if we suggested that lying can be righteous when proclaiming the gospel. For example, I read that Muslims consider misleading the infidel for the sake of Islam is righteous. Do we need to convey doubt about our Missionary's messages? The witness of the Apostles or of anyone else in Scripture?

 

Then we must also remember, God has caused people to fall under confusion 1 Kgs 22:19-23 and 2 Thess 2:11. Though God can use a lying spirit to his advantage 1 Kgs 22:22 or bring people under Satanic deception 2 Thess 2:9-10.

 

This is why I am hard pressed to suggest that it is okay for a Christian to lie under any circumstance. Note, this does not mean that lying is unforgivable. But I think it needs to be emphasized that lying is always a sin and violates the 9th commandment. Sometimes silence has consequences, but it might just mean the difference of saving one's life or another as a possible alternative. Now if someone stood before me and said, hold your tongue and I'll take it from you, well that's a sacrifice I may have to make. I can only imagine if the argument was made more personal, for example, someone suggesting they'd murder my loved ones until I spoke of the whereabouts or gave them pertinent information.

 

Lots of POWs however, or even those captured in our previous example of the CIA or FBI, I am certain faced horrible consequences because the refused to supply information to the enemy. I can only imagine that silence was their best bet. Being caught in a lie by their captors may lead to more torture in order to verify the truth from a liar's lips.

 

God bless,

William

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Christianity is based on truth. I can only imagine the impact it would have on many people if we suggested that lying can be righteous when proclaiming the gospel. For example, I read that Muslims consider misleading the infidel for the sake of Islam is righteous. Do we need to convey doubt about our Missionary's messages? The witness of the Apostles or of anyone else in Scripture?

 

Then we must also remember, God has caused people to fall under confusion 1 Kgs 22:19-23 and 2 Thess 2:11. Though God can use a lying spirit to his advantage 1 Kgs 22:22 or bring people under Satanic deception 2 Thess 2:9-10.

 

This is why I am hard pressed to suggest that it is okay for a Christian to lie under any circumstance. Note, this does not mean that lying is unforgivable. But I think it needs to be emphasized that lying is always a sin and violates the 9th commandment. Sometimes silence has consequences, but it might just mean the difference of saving one's life or another as a possible alternative. Now if someone stood before me and said, hold your tongue and I'll take it from you, well that's a sacrifice I may have to make. I can only imagine if the argument was made more personal, for example, someone suggesting they'd murder my loved ones until I spoke of the whereabouts or gave them pertinent information.

 

Lots of POWs however, or even those captured in our previous example of the CIA or FBI, I am certain faced horrible consequences because the refused to supply information to the enemy. I can only imagine that silence was their best bet. Being caught in a lie by their captors may lead to more torture in order to verify the truth from a liar's lips.

 

God bless,

William

 

 

 

I'm not arguing for or against lying.

I'm saying the argument in the quote is illogical; that reasoning doesn't work.

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I'm not arguing for or against lying.

I'm saying the argument in the quote is illogical; that reasoning doesn't work.

 

And what is illogical and what reasoning doesn't work? I simply am arguing that you can't take a liar's word for anything. If you can't take a liar's word for anything, then why would you believe them about the Gospel? Likewise, if we teach that Christianity conveys lies which are counted righteous, whose to say that the book itself does not contain many lies?

 

God bless,

William

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And what is illogical and what reasoning doesn't work? I simply am arguing that you can't take a liar's word for anything. If you can't take a liar's word for anything, then why would you believe them about the Gospel? Likewise, if we teach that Christianity conveys lies which are counted righteous, whose to say that the book itself does not contain many lies?

 

God bless,

William

 

Now lets examine your argument about the CIA and/or FBI. On the flip side truth is required, say for testimony protection is guaranteed. But if the CIA and FBI are non ethical could we count on their word? Likewise, say a possible informant or even a sex slave was caught in the vicious trade and wanted out, but a CIA or FBI member misrepresented himself or herself by engaging in such actions. Could the person wanting out trust the people demonstrating no personal integrity? Would you trust them and take their word for it?

 

I realize in the immediate context you're talking about physical acts rather than lies, but we can easily apply it to that. And obviously so, since that's why you gave this example.

 

The FBI agent wouldn't lie to this person unless he can reasonably assume (and for sake of argument, let's say he not merely assumes but knows) that person won't believe the truth or won't act appropriately after knowing the truth.

 

Thus, being known as a truth teller isn't going to work; it doesn't achieve the goal you want. Again, he's lying because the truth won't work. Thus, keeping in line with the truth won't help; it doesn't make that person trust you or want to do what needs to be done.

 

------

 

Again, I'm only addressing this usage. I'm not arguing for or against lying; and I'm especially not arguing that we should lie to draw people to christ (!!)

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I've heard an account of a person who was hiding people from the Nazi's -- the person was caught and told the truth. He was , in fact, hiding a Jewish person -- the person in hiding was taken and put on a bus or train supposedly going to a gas chamber. As it turned out -- that particular vehicle was heading Out of the Country to Freedom.

 

Lying ruins a person's credulity for the future. The person has to remember the lie they told in order to get out of trouble?!

 

There are those who will take lying / stealing and find all sorts of supposedly legitimate rational reasons why it would be acceptable / situational ethics. And there Are times when a person Can be telling the truth but in a questionable way. "Is this person 'here'". "here' as in in this room? or in the house? The person - upon seeing someone he really needs to avoid -- can step out of the house or room and really - honestly - not be 'here'. Or you can be totally honest and say, yes, but I have the Police on 'speed dial'. As you can see, I'm calling them Now.

 

We're told 'thou shalt not lie" for a reason.

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I realize in the immediate context you're talking about physical acts rather than lies, but we can easily apply it to that. And obviously so, since that's why you gave this example.

 

I gave the physical example because I was emphasizing compulsion to do something that a person did not want to do. And then I gave the second example which was being verbally compelled to do something an Apostle did not want to do. Perhaps I should of worded it better.

 

The FBI agent wouldn't lie to this person unless he can reasonably assume (and for sake of argument, let's say he not merely assumes but knows) that person won't believe the truth or won't act appropriately after knowing the truth.

 

So are you suggesting that it is ok to lie if you assume or personally know (if that is even possible) that the truth will not be believed? That seems to be your whole premise?

 

thus, being known as a truth teller isn't going to work; it doesn't achieve the goal you want.

 

And are you suggesting that it is ok to lie when you know the truth will not have the desired result you want?

 

Thus, keeping in line with the truth won't help; it doesn't make that person trust you or want to do what needs to be done.

 

So it is okay to violate the 9th commandment when?

 

Then we must also remember, God has caused people to fall under confusion 1 Kgs 22:19-23 and 2 Thess 2:11. Though God can use a lying spirit to his advantage 1 Kgs 22:22 or bring people under Satanic deception 2 Thess 2:9-10.

 

And you haven't addressed God's intervention or the most obvious possibility which is for a Christian not to put themselves in such a predicament in the first place (CIA or FBI).

 

God bless,

William

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I've heard an account of a person who was hiding people from the Nazi's -- the person was caught and told the truth. He was , in fact, hiding a Jewish person -- the person in hiding was taken and put on a bus or train supposedly going to a gas chamber. As it turned out -- that particular vehicle was heading Out of the Country to Freedom.

 

That's what I was attempting to convey in my first post, Sue. Often these arguments are framed with no possibility other than truth will bear dire consequences.

 

God bless,

William

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I gave the physical example because I was emphasizing compulsion to do something that a person did not want to do. And then I gave the second example which was being verbally compelled to do something an Apostle did not want to do. Perhaps I should of worded it better.

 

 

 

So are you suggesting that it is ok to lie if you assume or personally know (if that is even possible) that the truth will not be believed? That seems to be your whole premise?

 

 

 

And are you suggesting that it is ok to lie when you know the truth will not have the desired result you want?

 

 

 

So it is okay to violate the 9th commandment when?

 

 

 

And you haven't addressed God's intervention or the most obvious possibility which is for a Christian not to put themselves in such a predicament in the first place (CIA or FBI).

 

God bless,

William

 

 

 

Again, I'm only addressing this usage. I'm not arguing for or against lying

 

You're missing this.

 

Again, I'm only addressing this usage. I'm not arguing for or against lying

 

I'm just saying that specific argument doesn't work; it has a faulty (if speaking in absolutes) order of events.

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This is how I'd argue in support of your position: it's wrong to murder, it's wrong to fornicate, etc... In any of those cases, we're not to deny our values even at the threat of death. We obey God, and trust Him for the results. It may mean death for us, or someone else - but it's in God's hand, not ours. He will do right.

 

I question if God expects an exception in the case of lying/death, but like you: I find that people make a big assumption; just because God blessed them after the deed doesn't mean he blessed them because of the deed. (Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.)

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You're missing this.

 

I am quite aware of you suggesting that, but the point is your argument whether intentionally or not has an undesirable outcome. Can you answer the question, if your statement is true, then is it ok to lie under given circumstances?

 

I'm just saying that specific argument doesn't work; it has a faulty order of events.

 

But it is your premise that I am now questioning. You're suggesting that my faulty order does not work, but I see your whole logic being built on faulty premise. You stated that a person can know whether the truth or a lie will have the desired outcome. And you thus based the following logic on that premise.

 

You stated:

  1. A person can reasonably assume or know whether the truth or lie won't be believed and will have an undesirable outcome.
  2. Thus, being known as a truth teller isn't going to work; it doesn't achieve the goal you want.
  3. Thus, keeping in line with the truth won't help; it doesn't make that person trust you or want to do what needs to be done.

As to point 1, it seems no matter if a person is in a situation as an CIA or FBI agent or just a compulsive liar that this will fit his rationale.

 

As to points 2 and 3, I am just saying people are not like a light switch. A person can't lie and then tell the truth and expect any credibility whatsoever. Ironically, this is an issue the CIA and FBI face at the moment. All credibility is being brought into question. Given that CIA and FBI agents are known to lie in order to acquire the desired outcome: whether Elections, Russian collusion, or hiding evidence in order to attain a conviction or to set someone free of any allegations in order for desired information as in the case of Benghazi.

 

Without straying far off topic, I think this is related. The issue is to who said agency has loyalty towards. In this case, I think it no doubt that the agency has a loyalty to Country first, and then possibly God. This complicates matter and makes a complex situation for the person that has loyalty to God first and then Country.

 

God bless,

William

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I am quite aware of you suggesting that, but the point is your argument whether intentionally or not has an undesirable outcome. Can you answer the question, if your statement is true, then is it ok to lie under given circumstances?

 

 

 

But it is your premise that I am now questioning. You're suggesting that my faulty order does not work, but I see your whole logic being built on faulty premise. You stated that a person can know whether the truth or a lie will have the desired outcome. And you thus based the following logic on that premise.

 

You stated:

  1. A person can reasonably assume or know whether the truth or lie won't be believed and will have an undesirable outcome.
  2. Thus, being known as a truth teller isn't going to work; it doesn't achieve the goal you want.
  3. Thus, keeping in line with the truth won't help; it doesn't make that person trust you or want to do what needs to be done.

 

As to point 1, it seems no matter if a person is in a situation as an CIA or FBI agent or just a compulsive liar that this will fit his rationale.

 

As to points 2 and 3, I am just saying people are not like a light switch. A person can't lie and then tell the truth and expect any credibility whatsoever. Ironically, this is an issue the CIA and FBI face at the moment. All credibility is being brought into question. Given that CIA and FBI agents are known to lie in order to acquire the desired outcome: whether Elections, Russian collusion, or hiding evidence in order to attain a conviction or to set someone free of any allegations in order for desired information.

 

Without straying far off topic, I think this is related. The issue is to who said agency has loyalty to. In this case, I think it no doubt that the agency has a loyalty to Country first, and then possibly God.

 

God bless,

William

 

 

To your first question: I have no answer. I'm doubtful on the issue; I tend to think lying is never okay.

 

-------

 

It sounds like this is being brought down to a question of effectiveness.

 

Because, if we assume lying is more effective, then phrasing things in that order doesn't help..

However, if it is, or even might be, less effective - then phrasing things in that order does or might help.

 

I have no reason to debate effectiveness, I don't know the answer. I can say that humans adapt (behavioral psych 100), and they tend to do what works - even if it's immoral. So, it probably is more effective.

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It sounds like this is being brought down to a question of effectiveness.

 

Just curious,

 

Do you agree that God is the standard bearer of such things as Truth, Justice and Holiness?

 

If so, what if we began with a premise which is logically aligned to God?

 

In my eyes things are black and white. It is only then when we spin the truth that things become grey.

 

God bless,

William

 

 

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Just curious,

 

Do you agree that God is the standard bearer of such things as Truth, Justice and Holiness?

 

If so, what if we began with a premise which is logically aligned to God?

 

In my eyes things are black and white. It is only then when we spin the truth that things become grey.

 

God bless,

William

 

 

I think we're missing each other. As I stated, I lean toward your view regarding lying. ;)

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I think lying is wrong but there are situations where it may be the least-wrong option, or at least do the least harm.

 

An elderly woman in a care home suffered severe dementia and lost her ability to create memories towards the end of her life. When she lost her husband the family broke the news to her four times, only for her to forget each time. Each it was broken to her she became inconsolable, and attempted suicide when not watched, but then lost the memory within an hour. Eventually the staff changed tactics, telling her her husband was at church, or in the garden, when she asked (partly true, he was buried in the church's garden which was also the graveyard). It spared her pain and kept her happy because she thought that he would be back soon. In such a case, while it is a sin, I can understand why someone would obscure the truth in such a fashion, even if they do it knowing it is a sin and asking God's pardon.

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I think lying is wrong but there are situations where it may be the least-wrong option, or at least do the least harm.

 

An elderly woman in a care home suffered severe dementia and lost her ability to create memories towards the end of her life. When she lost her husband the family broke the news to her four times, only for her to forget each time. Each it was broken to her she became inconsolable, and attempted suicide when not watched, but then lost the memory within an hour. Eventually the staff changed tactics, telling her her husband was at church, or in the garden, when she asked (partly true, he was buried in the church's garden which was also the graveyard). It spared her pain and kept her happy because she thought that he would be back soon. In such a case, while it is a sin, I can understand why someone would obscure the truth in such a fashion, even if they do it knowing it is a sin and asking God's pardon.

 

As you commented -- the staff wasn't actually lying to her -- he Was where they said he was -- and they Did tell her the truth many times, it was her severe dementia they were working with. Her emotional health - well being.

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I'm fine with misleading people. When Saul asked Samuel his purpose in traveling through(?) the land, he stated he was there to make a sacrifice - and God told him to respond this way. However, his primary purpose was to anoint David as king.

Thus, he didn't lie (unless we consider "primary purpose" to be the required answer), but he mislead.

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I'm fine with misleading people. When Saul asked Samuel his purpose in traveling through(?) the land, he stated he was there to make a sacrifice - and God told him to respond this way. However, his primary purpose was to anoint David as king.

Thus, he didn't lie (unless we consider "primary purpose" to be the required answer), but he mislead.

 

Purposely misleading people isn't right, either.

 

But there's a Big difference between the situation of #20 and a dementia patient.

 

Maybe my next comment will sound a bit extreme -- but there's a point to it. A child who's beloved Grandma has just died -- unfortunately Grandma wasn't a believer -- so unfortunately she will be in hell for eternity. However, the child Does ask -- about Grandma and where she is. Maybe it's felt to be better that the child not attend the funeral. To be able to remember Grandma in her kitchen baking cookies. So -- as a , tell the truth at all times, person, does the adult tell that child that Grandma is dead and spending eternity in hell? Or that Grandma had a heart attack or ,what ever happened to her. and she is being buried next to Grandpa or some other member of the family.

 

As that same child gets Older -- salvation is shared with her -- what a person is being saved From and being saved TO. And , probably -- some where along the life of this child -- she will be understanding / asking questions regarding heaven /hell. That person can come to their own conclusions about where unbelieving Grandma is spending eternity. And God's Word tells us what heaven and hell will be like.

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I would lie in a second to save Christians being sought by ISIS were I a Muslim woman living in Syria or elsewhere that they are under siege in the middle east. I would have lied as a Christian to the Nazi's when they knocked on my door asking if I was harboring any Jews, Gays, Roma, or others being sought by that evil. Were I in high school today and deemed valedictorian, I would lie if the principle told me I had to promise not to thank God and Jesus Christ for giving my life purpose. Yes, there are reasons to lie in order to commit to the greater good that does not respect truth in the first place.

[h=3][/h]

Proverbs 12:19 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

 

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I would lie in a second to save Christians being sought by ISIS were I a Muslim woman living in Syria or elsewhere that they are under siege in the middle east. I would have lied as a Christian to the Nazi's when they knocked on my door asking if I was harboring any Jews, Gays, Roma, or others being sought by that evil. Were I in high school today and deemed valedictorian, I would lie if the principle told me I had to promise not to thank God and Jesus Christ for giving my life purpose. Yes, there are reasons to lie in order to commit to the greater good that does not respect truth in the first place.

 

Proverbs 12:19 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

 

Daniel didn't hide his praying, despite that being illegal and putting his life at risk. Why is earning valedictorian worth lying for?

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Daniel didn't hide his praying, despite that being illegal and putting his life at risk. Why is earning valedictorian worth lying for?

Daniel wasn't lying. He was committing to religious civil disobedience.

 

It isn't that valedictorian status is worthy lying for.

 

Rather, the news over the last couple to few years has reported the ACLU and/or atheist activists threaten public schools in certain areas with lawsuits in order to silence Christians in any number of ways. One being to stop the high achievers in class from invoking God or Jesus in their graduation speech. Some schools have required such students to put forth the copy of their intended speech prior to the ceremony. So that it can be approved by the principle that has conceded to teach the Christian students their first amendment rights are revoked under threat of atheists in that school.

 

There is no right to do this in a public school or by their official, as in principal. Therefore, as a student valedictorian, I would set the example of civil disobedience. And thank my God and Savior and teach the principle, the ACLU and atheist activists that I am not ashamed of my faith. And the first amendment cannot be infringed by those who claim they do not believe in God. But funnily enough spend a majority of their time fighting against what they first declare does not exist.

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