*Facepalm*

A reader responds to my piece on Tormented Rationalization for Lying with this astonishing reply:

Mark, do you want to take a crack at explaining how St.Raphael didn’t lie to Tobit when he appeared in the form of a distant cousin? Or the spies sent to scout out the promised land by Joshua? Or Jesus when he said he’d not go up to Jerusalem but then went up? Or when he said Lazarus is sleeping…before then acknowledging that he died…

Brilliant. Rationalize lying by calling Jesus a liar.

Remember: that was not written by an atheist attempting a “gotcha”. That was written by a *Christian* attempting a “gotcha”.

One of the fun parts of my job is that if I refuse to dignify a question like this with an answer I am inevitably informed that I am wriggling in the crushing grip of logic and “can’t reply”. So: I discuss the matter of Tobit here and here. I discuss the matter of Jesus’ use of mental reservation (and, more important, the bizarre and blasphemous attempt by Christians to appeal to Jesus as a the Great Proto-Liar Who Justifies Christian Lying) here. I don’t discuss the matter of Jesus’ use of metaphorical language about Lazarus anywhere because I’ve never, till now, encountered any argument silly enough to try to call it a “lie”. You might as well say that every non-literalistic statement Jesus ever made is likewise a “lie” (“He’s not really a vine or a door or a road or a shepherd! He’s lying!”)

Seriously, when you are reduced to calling Jesus a liar in order to justify your position, it’s time to give it up and do a serious re-think.

  • John Lyons

    Mark…. if this is the Facebook exchange I don’t think he ever called Jesus a Liar. He did point out that there is a distinction between lying and deception and that what Jesus and the angle did was deception – telling people something that wasn’t true so as to deceive them from the truth that they had no right to (either to keep them from sin or to guide them to salvation, either way to the good).

    So he wasn’t arguing FOR lying by referencing Jesus… he was referencing Jesus to show that some deception is not lying. Which argues back to the original case of LA and PP.

    • Mark Shea

      Of course he did. Review the language. “do you want to take a crack at explaining how St.Raphael didn’t lie to Tobit when he appeared in the form of a distant cousin? Or the spies sent to scout out the promised land by Joshua? Or Jesus when he said he’d not go up to Jerusalem but then went up?” That is precisely the claim he is making. Raphael lied. So did the spies. So did Jesus. The challenge to issued to me is to explain how this is not lying. The assumption is that I can’t because it’s lying, but *good* lying.

      The argument he *should* be making is that lying and other speech acts which may mislead or confuse are not the same thing. In fact, I made it for him so that he would not continue trying to argue that Raphael, the spies and Jesus are liars. But that is initially what he wound up trying to argue. It’s another example of the poison that flows from these attempts to rationalize lying.

      And so, for that matter, is your haste to call me a liar. I trust you will now retract that slander.

      • Observer

        I would ask the author….
        Why did St. Raphael disguise himself? Better, why would he, as an angel, need to put on a disguise and say he was Tobit’s cousin? Would the nature of an angel be too much for Tobit to endure? How many points of Salvation History have angels appeared where men either fell down at their feet (I can think of Revelation, the book of Daniel, and other points of Scripture.)

        As for the spies, they were merely observing and didn’t use the concealing of their identity beyond simply blending in with the crowd. How were spies simply making reports have anything to do with LA drawing out an accusational confession through an act, which of course was not necessarily conealing their identity, proceededing to make the woman believe they were really a pimp and illeg. prost?

        And, since when does mental reservation constitute a lie? I could bee sitting in a restaurant. The waiter may ask if I wanted anything to eat. Which, I may reply saying no. Then, a waitress passes by, and I simply make an order. Did I lie to the waiter?

        What’s worse than believing it’s alright to lie is believing the lie one crafts for himself to accept. In the above case, the run along each event and example is a crafted and constructed lie. St. Raphael is an angel, the spies were merely making observations and reporting what they saw, and Christ made a mental reservation. None of those constitute a lie. The real lie is crafting one to believe it.

    • ivan_the_mad

      “Jesus and the angle did was deception”. Jesus and the Angle? Why not Jesus and the Jute, or Jesus and the Saxon? But certainly not Jesus and the Pict.

      • Beadgirl

        Hee!

        (Apparently this ridiculous commenting software prefers the verbose to the terse.)

      • Ted Seeber

        Or for that matter, Jesus and the Point.

        • ivan_the_mad

          There you go with the mathemagicks.

  • John Lyons

    In other words…. you are lying when you assert that a reader of yours said “Jesus was a liar so lying is OK”.

  • John Lyons

    I read it as : because Raphael and Jesus didn’t lie but they did deceive, there’s a distinction between the two. You (and he subsequently) point out that a distinction exists. Now the argument has to go back to show where LA is not just deceiving but actually lying.

    • Mark Shea

      I suspect that’s what he was attempting to say. It’s not what he said. That’s why I proceeded to point out that lying is not the same as other speech act which evade or create confusion. And since I have already granted that lying and deception are not the same thing, there is no point in writing what he wrote, if that’s what he actually meant.

      And you still have not retracted your slander that I lied.

  • John Lyons

    It seems neither of us are lying. we’re all confused as to what the other was trying to say. Perhaps this a warning for too hasty blogging!

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    Training in philosophy and moral theology means something. That’s why seminarians study these subjects.

    They are sciences, like medicine or navigation. Should a concerned father pick up a scalpel to excise a suspicious lesion on his child’s arm? Care as he might, he is not qualified to do so, and the results will be disastrous. Even though he is the child’s father, after all. Doesn’t matter. He is not trained in the science of surgery.

    Should an adventurous Mom pack her two school-aged children aboard a 30-footer and make for open sea, hoping that if she heads “east”, she’ll soon reach the Bahamas? No. She is the children’s Mom, and has every right to take them places, but not out to sea in a boat, where she is untrained and unqualified to skipper such a boat. No and no.

    Should a Christian untrained in philosophy and moral theology believe that by asking a few pointed questions, he will so enlighten the Sacred Congregation as to the rightness of his views, that he will cause them to modify the long-standing teaching of the Church concerning the duties we owe to one another in justice?

    No.

    • Scott W.

      I’m on your side Marion, but this doesn’t seems like a good approach because one can always find x theologian or scholar who says differently than what the Church teaches. It’s an old dissident’s tactic, and it is painful to watch otherwise orthdox Catholics employ it.

      • Marion (Mael Muire)

        I know a woman who suffers from clinical depression and from fibromyalgia. She sometimes finds her energy level just isn’t up to events at the last minute, and has to cancel out of get-togethers. When she has told her family and friends that the clinical depression is doing a number on her this week, they say things like, “Hon, you need to snap out of this! Come on! How long has this been now?” When she tells them that the fibromyalgia is acting up, they say, “Oh! Hope you feel better. Hope to see you next time!” Having learned this, just to avoid alienating them, she always pleads “fibromyalgia” whether it’s that or depression.

        This woman hopes that this is not “lying.” Any ideas, Mark?

        • Maiki

          “I’m not feeling well today, sorry. Can we reschedule? Thanks.”

          Health issues are not other people’s concern. Assure them you are well cared for and not suicidal, but you don’t need to give out the nature of your illness every time. That is between her and her doctor.

    • Observer

      For the manner of making decisions on the basis of common sense, no need of higher-educated intelligence is requireed. Reality will give everyone a dose of common sense. Perhaps a priests (and lay faithful’s) real traning comes from the Academy at Calvary (the Passion and the Cross.)

  • beccolina

    I have a question about circumstances, dual-effects and sin. In Fr. Laux’s book on Christian morality, he addresses the topic of an action having both a good and a bad effect. The example used is killing in self-defense. If a man breaks into my house, kills my dog and is coming down the hall with the intent (As far as I know) of killing my children and I, shooting him is justified and not sinful. If I understand correctly, it is not sinful because my intention is not primarily to kill him, but to defend innocent life. My object is good, the circumstances make attaining that object a matter of urgency, a good end come from it(my children and I are unharmed), but also a bad end (a man is dead), but the good is considered outweighing the evil. I’ve heard this applied to the very rare situations when a mother’s life is imminently threatened by pregnancy (off the top of my head, ectopic pregnancy, which would end in the baby definitely dying, no matter what, and the mother possibly dying if nothing is done.)

    If a human act is good if the object, circumstances and ends are good, it seems like someone could justify an awful lot. In the case of Lila Rose, she probably sees her object (Revealing the truth) as good, the circumstances (they’re breaking the law and killing babies, y’know) as good, and the end (truth revealed) as good. Unfortunately, lying is sinful means, which changes the circumstances from good to bad. Does lying as a sinful means poison the whole action–object, circumstances, ends and all–or can it be considered something with a dual-effect, where there are both good and bad with good outweighing the bad? I don’t personally think so in the case of LA, but I can also see their work justified that way, depending on point of view. It’s hard not to think that firing a shotgun into someone isn’t intrinsically immoral too, yet self-defense is not sinful. Is it that firing a shotgun isn’t intrinsically immoral?

    • Telemachus

      Beccolina,

      The basic teaching is this: one cannot use sinful means to achieve good.

      You bring up the topic of self-defense, and I think there is some varying opinion on this topic (I’ve read quotes from some Fathers justifying only passive resistance, and others justifying active resistance). However, I would point out that killing another human being is not inherently sinful. A lot of people think it breaks the 5th Commandment to kill another human being, but the actual wording of the 5th is “don’t do murder” in Hebrew. Killing in self-defense is not murder (although there is some nuance about what was in the heart of the defender at the time of killing). Abortion is always murder.

      Could you give the title of Fr. Laux’s book? I think I’ve heard of him before, but I don’t know what he wrote so I can’t meet his argument directly.

      God bless,
      Tele

      • Ted Seeber

        I believe killing another human being, *even in self defense* is inherently sinful, and here’s why (and it has nothing to do with the simplified commandments given to the Israelites wandering in the desert): In a rightly ordered world, only God should have power over life and death.

        Any attempt by us mere finite beings to wrest control away from God is sinful, for any reason.

        • ivan_the_mad

          See 2263 & 2264 of the CotCC.

        • Telemachus

          Ted,

          Nuance: there is some difference in self-defense vs. defense of others. Just an aside for your edification.

          I don’t believe self-defense is intrinsically sinful, although I do believe NOT defending yourself is an act of superior virtue.

          I don’t buy the “rightly ordered world” argument. I think this is referred to as “pre-lapsariaism”? I know we can’t justify things on the basis of post-lapsarianism either, but it seems to me that a hierarchy of goods must be respected: it is good to stop a man bent on murder, and if in the moment the only possibility is to kill him, so be it. We have to live in the real world and do the best with what we have.

          When I search the Catechism for “self defense” this is what I get:
          http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2264.htm
          http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2308.htm
          http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2263.htm

          There’s nothing in there about inherent sinfulness of killing. Quite the contrary, in fact.

          God bless,
          Tele

          • ivan_the_mad

            “There’s nothing in there about inherent sinfulness of killing. Quite the contrary, in fact.”

            I’m wary of this statement. The CotCC notes the requirement for response of moderate force to violence and the application of double-effect. It’s a world of difference to say “Killing is not inherently sinful” and “You have a right to defend yourself; if the minimum amount of force necessary to do this is lethal, you have not sinned”.

            • Telemachus

              Ivan,

              Dually noted. By “quite the contrary” I mean that it is admitted in the paragraphs of the CCC that there are situations in which killing does not bring upon the killer the guilt of sin. It might have sounded like I was saying that there was some sort of positive spin on the notion of killing within those paragraphs.

              To my mind, in reading the CCC, if killing another human being were inherently sinful the Bishops would have simply said so. They don’t shy away from things like abortion and euthanasia, so I would expect that if there was really consensus on the inherently sinful nature of killing that this would be apparent in the CCC. At a minimum, the CCC makes it clear that national defense can be executed lawfully (i.e. without sin).

              After reading again, I note that in the CCC there is a clear effort to make sure that Catholics understand that lethal self-defense is only lawful as a last resort, and that intentions (i.e. what is in the person’s heart) are what matter most. Trouble is, intentions can really only be known by the intender and God. Thus, judgement of the lawfulness of a killing is not a simple affair.

              God bless,
              Tele

          • Ted Seeber

            I agree with the catechism that killing in self-defense isn’t murder. But that doesn’t make it right either. 2263, for instance, refers to the principle of double effect- which while not removing the sinfulness of a situation, removes the GUILT for the sinfulness of a a situation.

            The situation is still a sin. The situation is still evil. There is just a mitigating good to make it less serious.

            • Zac

              That’s not how double-effect is usually interpreted Ted, unless you’re talking about the “sinfulness of a situation” in a ‘fallen world’ sense. ie. No one is saying that it is *good* for people to be killed in self-defense. It’s not an ideal outcome.
              If someone attacks me, they are in the wrong. It is right for me to defend myself using a proportional degree of force. If the attacker is injured or killed, this is a foreseeable but unintended consequence. Most importantly, the attacker’s injury or death are contingent on his wrongful action.

              The situation is evil, yes. But to say that the situation is ‘sin’ only makes sense in a metaphorical sense.

          • Ted Seeber

            2nd reply. Blame my post 1970 theological education- what’s lapsariaism? EITHER pre or post?

      • beccolina

        It is “Catholic Morality, Sin, virtue, conscience, duties to God, neighbor, etc. A course in religion for Catholic high schools and academics” by Fr. John Laux, MA. It is three of a four part series. I used it as part of my homeschooling curriculum for my hs stepdaughter.

        I find it hard to think that killing a human might not be intrinsically wrong, but I also think that not defending innocents (like my own children, who are 5, 3, & 1) from an imminent attack or danger would be evil. If I saw a child drowning in a pool, but chose not to jump in and save him, that would be sinful, wouldn’t it? Oh, ack, I’m playing the what-if game.

    • Kristen inDallas

      I get all worked up easily about killing in self defense. (One of the reasons I left law school). IMHO, intentional killing is always wrong. (As is intentionally lying). When someone is threatening my or my family’s life there is more than one way to deal with it. If I had a gun (I don’t), I could shoot them in the face… or I could shoot them in the foot. One will kill them, one will slow them down just long enough for me to get help or physically restrain them. Now I believe it’s entirely possible to be in a high-pressure, no time to be careful, situation and *accidentally* kill someone while trying to defend yourself (or to accidentally represent a falsehood while focusing on only one truth). However, I also believe that there are instances when given the option, a person *chooses* to kill this person who would dare threaten my life (or chooses to lie or mislead in order to expose someone they find morally bankrupt) because they believe their lie or killing to be justified.

      Personally, I believe when we are confronted with evil, we can respond with evil or we can respond with good, and it’s way too easy to justify an evil response for me to believe it could be right. Pretending that it is the only way to respond is a great disservice to the potential of humanity. In the end, all sins are forgivable if we ask. And those we make in an attempt to combat evil, may be even more easily forgiven. But I definately hesitate to say it’s not a sin to kill, or to lie, in certain circomstances… Rationalizing away the need to ask forgiveness is not a kindness I would wish on these would be *heroes*.

      • Telemachus

        Kristen,

        See my reply to Ted Seeber above.

        God bless,
        Tele

        • Kristen inDallas

          I think we’re saying basically the same thing… except that when I read #2264, I think I may be ascribing to a much narrower definition of what counts as being “forced” to deal a lethal blow. I believe that the lethal blow is a choice in all circumstances except the accidental. If you ever watch old star trek episondes, Captain Kirk may look like an idiot for doing it… but he always helps the guy that’s trying to kill him climb back up rather than fall off he cliff. No matter how many times the bad guy tries to kill him, he only responds with defense… the bad guy only ever dies in some mishap in the struggle (falling off the cliff, rolling onto his own knife, etc). Call me goofy, but I apply that Kirk-ian standard in my judgement of right and wrong. I feel the same way about lying…. sometimes we get so caught up in a story, or trying to convince others of a truth, that we will repeat a lie without knowing it. What live action did is not the same thing… they intentionally fabricated a lie with the purpose of decieving their enemy. I’ll never ever defend what PP does, but I can’t defend that either.

          • Telemachus

            Kristen,

            I understand what you’re saying: one shouldn’t deal a death-blow unless absolutely necessary. We shouldn’t be so careless with life that we intentionally kill others.

            Nevertheless, the Church in her wisdom teaches that there are situations where one must defend his own life, and this defense can reach lethal proportions. For me, it comes down to double-effect: “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.” (http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2263.htm)

            In the heat of the moment, one must make split-second decisions about how to deal with an aggressor. If murder is in the heart of the defender, then it is sinful. But if someone is just trying to stop an aggressor from taking his life or the life of someone else, it is possible for a lethal act of defense to not be sinful. It may be grave matter, it may be done with full consent of the will, but it is the intention at that point that matters.

            God bless,
            Tele

            • Ted Seeber

              After analyzing the principle of double effect; I would not say “not sinful”, I would say “less sinful”. The rent in the soul is still there- otherwise the soldier’s mental malady of PTSD would not exist.

              • beccolina

                Ted, do you think PTSD is both a spiritual and mental malady, requiring both spiritual and mental healing?

      • http://creativefidelity.wordpress.com Dan F.

        Also, I would suggest that the ‘shoot them in the foot’ is a Hollywood invention whereas most violent encounters that would require the use of a gun in self- or other-defense one would be advised to aim for center mass (i.e. chest region) since that is the most like way to successfully stop the aggressor and a miss by a few inches could still have the intended effect.

        Trying to shoot someone in the foot is a good way to miss entirely and get yourself or the one you are protecting killed.

        • Telemachus

          Dan,

          I agree to a certain extent. In fact, it is not easy to stop a person even just aiming at the chest of an attacker. I learned a lot about this in the gun course I took. They explicitly taught us that we are not trying to kill, but to stop, and the best way to stop is a series of hollow-points to the chest. Would the attacker be killed? Very possible, but it’s interesting that even in a secular gun instruction course that they were less concerned about aiming for the head or the heart, but simply stopping the attacker.

          God bless,
          Tele

          • beccolina

            I would personally hope that the unique sound of a pump action shotgun would make the attacker stop or leave, but not everyone is sensible.

          • http://creativefidelity.wordpress.com Dan F.

            I’m not surprised. One of the other Hollywood gun myths is that the ability to punch holes accurately in a paper target translates to ability to survive a violent encounter involving guns. Turns out that the best predictor of surviving that kind of encounter is entirely dependent on your ability to recognize safe ‘cover’ and staying their until help arrives.

    • Ted Seeber

      At one time I would have said “The act is evil but not sinful”, because the intent was to do good, and a requirement of the standard definition of sin is intent.

      Today, I’d say that the act is sinful but the intent isn’t, and that’s the difference between a venal and a mortal sin. It’s still a sin, but having right intent counts for a lot.

      That’s hard for most Americans to understand (Including Canadians, Mexicans, and South Americans) because our relatively young culture is greatly influenced by a bunch of people using minor evils to achieve great good (human migration to land already “owned” for instance).

  • Jack

    Nothing like the chronically shallow to seriously piss you off–however, please remember that when you’re defending Christ, there’s no need for over-kill. As you know, or should, faith is a gift that’s ours for the asking. Not everyone’s interested yet, but don’t slam them so hard, Mark, that they may never be.

    • Mark Shea

      Jack: When people are deaf, you shout. A disturbingly large majority of prolifers not only have no qualms about LA’s tactics, but are laboring with might and main to defend these tactics with reckless and dangerous rhetoric like this. When I see some movement from the prolife community toward reconsideration of this dangerous and reckless consequentialism, I’ll tone it down. Right now, I’m shouting into a gale force wind of folly.

      • http://signsshadows.blogspot.com/ Colin Gormley

        I second Mark’s point about shouting. I’ve posted in online discussions where I start as cordial and this just seems to be seen as weakness. I go from “I think you may be missing the point of my argument” to “You don’t get it at all.” It isn’t until the second phrase comes out that the other person sits up and notices.

        So while we should do our best to remain cordial, the posting equivalent of shouting appears to have its place as well.

  • John Lyons

    The crux of the issue once a distinction has been made between deception and lying is to find in the circumstance elements that prove either/or is happening. The Catechism seems to say that lies always have to do with both ‘the right to know the truth’ being violated and malice/harm to come to the deceived party because of the deception. That they a) have a right to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and b) absent the truth they will be harmed.

    Obviously criminals don’t have a right to the truth (be they mafiosos, cartels, Nazis, or PP) and the deception for the sake of getting a policy on record that’s deeply offensive to society’s self-understanding such that it is outlawed…. is ultimately good for the sinner too.

    Unless we can argue otherwise. It would be nice to see some analysis on the details as to why it’s definitely, impossible to be deception other than “because shut up, you sinners”.

    • Mark Shea

      When even their defenders call it lying, it’s lying. Only people deep inside the bubble of rationalization can convince themselves that walking up to somebody and lying about your name and purpose is ‘not lying”. Ordinary people (who it is our job to convince with truth, not with lies and trickery) will not wait around to even hear the elaborate rationalization for why LA’s lying isn’t lying. They will, instead, nod when PP says “LA is lying”. Then they will say “After seeing the unedited video I just e-donated more to PP than I was planning to this year.” You can invent all the rationalizations you like, but the net effect of these lies is to help PP, while committing Christians to the insane project of rationalizing lies and tempting sinners to commit grave sins: http://www.patheos.com/​blogs/markshea/2012/06/​tormented-rationalizations-​for-lying.html Insane.

      • Kristen inDallas

        (pushes imagianary ‘like’ button)

      • Rade Hagedorn

        Not being part of the Facebook discussion, what is the difference between deception and lying?

        • Cinlef

          Lying is uttering a direct falsehood with the intent to deceive (so someone using metaphor/hyperbole and not being meant to be taken literally or an actor saying the phrase “I am Hamlet prince of Denmark” in not lying)

          Deception involves concealing the truth indirectly without uttering direct falsehood, things like omitting information, or well deceptive phrases which are Obi-Wain style “true from a certain point of view”

          Such is my understanding anyway I’d welcome correction if any of that is inaccurate

        • Michele

          And adding to this how can we say that Jesus deceived when we are told that God can “neither deceive not be deceived”. I am sincerely asking because I am totally with you Mark on all of this but I am confused on the whole lying vs. deceiving thing.

          • Mark Shea

            Perhaps deception is not the right word. Is there a word in English for “letting somebody persist in their blindness”?

    • Thales

      I’m with John here. It seems to me that there is a huge amount of confusion, with the terms “lying” and “deception” not being defined, and it’s not helped by the fact that “lying” and “deception” are used synonymously all the time.

      Mark said “walking up to somebody and lying about your name and purpose is ‘not lying”” Sure, the LA is lying about their name, but purpose? I don’t see a lie in a woman going in and saying “if I’m pregnant with a girl and I want a boy, can you help give me an abortion?” It goes back to my point on the other comment thread: I wonder whether the criticism of LA falls away entirely if LA was only slightly more clever in how they phrased their questions and responses such that they would never technically lie.

      • Mark Shea

        And the distinction between homoousious and homoiosious appears to be negligible too. So does the difference between artificial contraception and NFP. Or miracles and magic. Or prayers to the dead and seances. Yet there is a real difference, just as there is a real difference between lying and not volunteering information

        • Thales

          Mark, the problem is (1) I don’t know what your definition of lying is; and (2) I see a big middle ground between what I’m assuming your definition of lying is and “not volunteering information.” That middle ground is deception, which I’m classifying as a person’s implied words, actions, and omissions in order to knowingly and intentionally mislead someone to a position that the former knows to be untrue.

          But I think I’ll bow out the conversation as I don’t see it going anywhere. Again, I’ll just wonder whether the LA tactics would turn saintly if they only used their real names, (or even their middle names — it’s not lying because that’s their name!)

          • Mark Shea

            This seems reasonable to me:

            2482 “A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving.”281 The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: “You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”282
            2483 Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man’s relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.

            2484 The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.

            2485 By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. The deliberate intention of leading a neighbor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity. The culpability is greater when the intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences for those who are led astray.

            2486 Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.

    • Kristen inDallas

      @john… I don’t see anything in the catechism about criminals not having the right to the truth. And I don’t see where it says lying is only bad IF the person lied to has a right to the truth and it causes them harm. I’m pretty sure it says ALL lies cause harm BECAUSE they interupt a person’s relationship with truth.
      That may be a given in man’s law…. but certainly not in moral law, as far as I can tell. We’re not talking about whether or not to arrest LA for lying… we’re talking about whether it is right or wrong, so I think moral law has a little more weight here.
      It frightens me a bit that you refer to PP as being the person being denied a relationship with truth… PP is not a person, and cannot be “lied to.” The two women who worked at the clinics were lied to, and lots of well-intentioned pro-life advocates who watched the film were decieved as well. And it will have consequences for all of them.

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    I know a woman who suffers from clinical depression and from fibromyalgia. She sometimes finds her energy level just isn’t up to events at the last minute, and has to cancel out of get-togethers. When she has told her family and friends that the clinical depression is doing a number on her this week, they say things like, “Hon, you need to snap out of this! Come on! How long has this been now?” When she tells them that the fibromyalgia is acting up, they say, “Oh! Hope you feel better. Hope to see you next time!” Having learned this, just to avoid alienating them, she always pleads “fibromyalgia” whether it’s that or depression.

    This woman hopes that this is not “lying.” Any ideas, Mark?

    • Mark Shea

      I’m uncomfortable with being asked to adjudicate this woman’s struggles. Not grist for a combox, I think.

      • Marion (Mael Muire)

        Hm. Probably wise.

  • Paul

    You can’t argue with crazy. And there is a hell of a lot of crazy here. I can’t believe that Christians are trying to justify lying. It’s seems they missed the point that the Truth sets people free and somehow got the idea that clever manipulation/exploitation of people does that. They missed the reality that God is in control and assumed that they need to take control and fix everything. They are somehow so eager to defeat their enemies that they’ve forgotten that their enemies need to be shown love as well. This is insanity. Such self-delusion is impervious to reason.

  • Observer

    Deception is generally the effect of a lie. There are other means, however, by which to bring deception (expecially without ever lying.)

    That said, no one can call PP’s enticement and persuasion to be lies anymore. To say PP lies (or even lied) denying cancer and other dangerous occur as after-effects upon a woman’s health following terming a baby’s l’ife, and then, following, to do away with the wrong of lying by now saying, “See, I *potentially* saved a baby’s life by now lying to the PP worker to expose the crimes covered up by them” is all an insane proposition. Our efforts to expose the lies of PP are now pulled like a rug from under our feet and will be used against us. The danger is in the proposition and will do terrible damage to successfully defendiing anf protecting life.

  • Observer

    Dangerous should be dangers.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    FWIW, just because I’m a somewhat new Catholic and some of those Protestant ways are still clinging to the residue of my former life, I can say that this is a fair debate. Don’t be quick to judge those who are confused about this on many different levels. And don’t be quick to say ‘it’s OK to deceive, just don’t lie.’ To a Protestant, there are few things that are better in explaining away Catholic Christianity than a statement like that. It smacks of legalism 202. The kind of thing that tells Jesus it *is* better to let your sheep die in a pit if it fell there on the Sabbath. Not to mention not saying ‘because the Catechism says so, that’s why.’ You could replace ‘Catechism’ with ‘Bible’, and fit right in with anyone graduating from the Moody Bible Institute. So while I’m fine with ‘don’t lie’ on one hand, it’s more than fair to ask and question. Plus, we need to make sure we’re not saying things that become problematic themselves, or say more about the Catholic Faith than the Catholic Faith ever intended to say.

    • Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered

      You make some valid points, particularly about “the Catechism says so.” Many Catholics use this as a way to make it difficult for others to ask questions or argue. Basically, the Catechism is a guide, not the last word. If you want that, you have to study up on the thousands of issues treated there. A small paragraph just gets you started.

      And it’s a also true that the people who throw the Catechism at us constantly are some of the first to question Protestant biblicism or the “rules mentality” of pre-Vatican II Catholics.

      • Mark Shea

        Except it’s not a “rules mentality”. It’s obvious common sense backed up by obvious moral insight. Why is lying bad? Not because “I said so. Shut up!” but because, “By injuring man’s relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.” Because “It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. The deliberate intention of leading a neighbor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity.” Because “since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.” That’s a hell of a lot more than “Shut up, he explained”. And more than this, I have carefully elaborated the great destructiveness of this particular case of lying. And yet *still* readers are deluding themselves that the *main* task is to figure out some way of rationalizing the greatness and goodness of LA lying and to find whatever loophole, no matter how far-fetched, can be adduced to excuse and embrace it while denouncing exponents of the bloody obvious teaching of the Church as simplistic fundamentalists. Insane. It reminds me of nothing so much as the Pelosi Catholics who likewise appeal to endless ambiguity and nuance in the face of alleged “fundamentalists” who take the obvious teaching of the Church concerning abortion and gay “marriage” for what it plainly means.

  • Ted Seeber

    Good job everybody distracting me from the question I really wanted to ask.

    WHICH EPISODE OF STTNG IS THAT PICTURE FROM? I thought I was a good trekkie, but I don’t remember an episode of STTNG which included a double facepalm.

    • Ted Seeber

      Nevermind- posting that gave me a new idea for a google search, which led me to this TrekBBS article, which shows that the original image is actually a photoshop of TWO scenes from “Deja Q” and “A Matter of Perspective”
      http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=175921

      • Andy, Bad Person

        That makes sense. I was wondering why the guy on the right had both a shadow behind him and in front of him.

  • Merkn

    I do not understand you at all. Your overall point is an excellent one. A true example of the countercultural excellence of Catholic theology and morality. Yet you treat people to whom this comes as a surprise with absolute contempt and disdain. They have heard the “save the innocents from the Nazis” rationale for lying for their entire lives. The lesser of two evils rationale, though incorrect, seems reasonable and is widely accepted. The correct view is clearly a minority viewpoint in society – - even within the Church itself. They have been taught incorrectly by everyone from their parents, to their teachers to the government since birth. You don’t teach the truth effectively by calling your pupils stupid.

    • Mark Shea

      My apologies. Being called a baby-killing monster who hates America, a pharisee, and all the rest of it, for years, by people who advance any and every repellent argument for appalling consequentialist evil does rather tend to give me a thick skin and loud voice. You try shouting into the wind for nearly a decade against the conservative love of consequentialism and its serene pride in its superiority to the Church’s teaching and see how you do.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      And what is the right teaching regarding the ‘saving innocents from Nazis’?

  • Mike

    I think Riker’s actually just stealing a peek at his cue-cards.

  • http://jordanhenderson.blogspot.com Jordan Henderson

    I’m still confused by what Jesus did in John 7. Specifically, in John 7:8 Christ says:

    “You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, because my time has not yet been fulfilled.”

    and, yet, he goes. We know that his time did not become fulfilled after the disciples left. He clearly gave the impression to the disciples that he was not going and his reason was that his time was not fulfilled. It was at least omitting information, although, perhaps it is the case that the disciples were not owed the additional information.

    It makes more sense to me that he was not going with his disciples because he couldn’t go in public before his time was fulfilled (based on what was said in John 7:3-4 and 7:10) and being accompanied by his disciples would make that impossible.

    I’m not saying Christ lied. I’m just trying to come to a complete understanding of this passage. It does appear to me that Christ allowed his disciples to be misled and I’m wondering what that implies about similar situations that might occur.

    • http://creativefidelity.wordpress.com Dan F.

      Jordan, much of the confusion is cleared up by adding the word ‘yet’ (which many manuscripts do) to that sentence. It also helps to put it in the historical context – ‘going up’ was a public event – families and towns/tribes all went up together, sang the Song of Ascent (Psalm 120–134) as they were going etc. It that sense Jesus didn’t ‘go up’ to Jerusalem for the Feast. He went quietly in secret.

      Also, it wasn’t his disciples he was talking to but rather his ‘brothers’ (i.e. first cousins and related family members).

    • Observer

      Similarily at Wedding Feast in Cana, He said to Mary (his mother) it was not his time. Yet, she told the servants to do what he tells them. I think people intepret Christ outside of the context of his Father and read moral dilemma’s setup by moral consequentialism. Sadly, the arguments turn into a sola-scriptura habit and exercise.

  • Amanda

    Jesus is the Son of God, Christ never lied to anyone. Jesus is a truth-teller, not a liar. Satan is a liar and Jesus is a truth-speaker, since when did Jesus lie to a person that`s not true at all, read the Holy Bible you guys it will tell what Jesus said is the truth. Jesus is not a deceiving angel of light, Satan is. God`s holy angel Raphael did not lie either and neither did Jesus. Raphael and Jesus are not liars, the liars are Satan and his demons they lie not loyal angels. An angel is a holy angel from God not Satan.

  • Amanda

    Jesus is called the Good Shepherd, Messiah, Lord, Savior, Alpha and Omega, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Light of the Word, Son of God, Faithful One, Son of Man, Holy Spirit, Spirit of Christ, God`s Son, Hosanna, Prince of Peace, Lamb of God, Life, Resurrection, Truth, Risen One, Redeemer, Divine Healer, Miracleworker, The Living Word of God, The Word of God and Salvation. Jesus (Yahushua/Teacher) is our guide to all truth.

  • Amanda

    Jesus is also called Light of the World, Wonderful Counselor, Eternal Life, Living Son of God, Sovereign Lord, Most High, Creator, Majesty, King, Holy One, Peace, Love, God in human form, Righteousness, Faithfulness, Harmony, Joy and Light. Jesus is the True Christ of the living of our Father in heaven.

  • Amanda

    The seven archangels are Michael, Zadquiel, Raphael, Uriel, Gabriel, Barachiel and Jofiel. These 7 angels are holy angels and the angels are loyal not disloyal. Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and the others are holy archangels of God. They are very loyal and faithful to humans.

  • Amanda

    Jesus never lied to anyone. Christ is not the father of lies (Satan). Jesus told the truth all of the time, he
    is God`s Son not Satan`s son. I am very confused about the lying and deception thing, I am not sure if lying and deception is the same thing or not. I`m still not sure if deception is lying or mixture of truth mixed with truth. It`s hard to say what deception is.

  • Amanda

    I guess deception is falsehood (the mixture of truth and lies). Deception is falsehood, I don`t want to be confused what the Bible says about lying or falsehood. God`s Word is flawless and truth.


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