While Prolife Catholics Strive with Might and Main…

…to argue that becoming liars for a good cause (exposing Planned Parenthood) is a really smart and great idea that only a prissy Pharisaic fool could possibly reject, the Church in Australia becomes the latest casualty of lying in a good cause (protecting the good name of the Church).

This will not, of course, come back to bite us in the future. Since when has cutting moral corners and tempting people to commit grave sin ever led to trouble?

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  • capaxdei

    It’s all special pleading. “Lying is just given Nazis at the door, ill-fitting dresses, and my situation.”

    • Dave G.

      If lying isn’t just, it’s at least understandable, given Nazis at the door if one isn’t quick enough to think of a better way to save people. That’s the problem with this debate. Everyone *says* they acknowledge the differences, and yet the arguments are continually made in ways that suggest there are no differences at all. When people say ‘what about the Nazis’, suddenly we hear there are all these obvious differences in the circumstances. Then later, we hear people saying that all lying is all the same and always wrong in every way, no distinctions (Nazis or otherwise). Is it different or is it not? Either there is a distinction to be made, or just say there is no distinction and stick with it.

      For me, I mentioned in a post a week or so ago my favorite approach told me by a priest: if your first inclination in a split second life or death situation is to lie to save an innocent person, you’ve already done better than half of humanity who would have joined the murderers anyway, or would think of saving their own skins as the first response. Again, the ‘Nazis at the door’ and the ‘construct elaborate lies for the common good’ are two different cases. Or they’re all the same. They can’t be both and neither and both again, or those advocating for lying have a right to say they’re confused.

      • That’s actually kind of the point I was trying to make in another thread — that I had no idea what I would do if I actually faced the Nazis, that I hoped I’d have the presence of mind to do the right thing, that if I did end up lying I’d go to confession after, and that I had no intention of *planning* to lie — i.e. planning to sin. But that was not good enough, and I was still accused of being no better than a nazi-collaborator. It’s a bogus scenario and a bogus analogy to what Live Action does, and yet, over and over and over, Live Action apologists bring it up as if it is some sort of slam dunk for their case.

        • Dave G.

          Well, in fairness, those who insist there are differences seem to turn around and say there are no differences, that it’s all the same and no different. And then when folks object that there does seem to be some difference somewhere in lying as a venial sin vs., say, lying about working late with the secretary, those folks are told they have a problem with reality and nobody is saying all lying is the same. It’s probably being made more confusing than it needs to be.

          • I actually think it is more the fault of lazy thinking (on both sides) — too many people don’t stop to think through the consequences of their beliefs, don’t qualify or thoroughly explain their opinions well enough, don’t spend enough time thinking about what exactly their opponents are saying, and don’t give their opponents the benefit of the doubt. Add the ad hominems, inflammatory language, and routine violation of Godwin’s Law, and it’s no wonder these things degenerate.

            Basically, not enough people know how to, or are willing to, argue well.

            • Imp the Vladaler

              ’tis not a violation of Godwin’s Law, m’lady; ’tis its fulfillment

  • michigancatholic

    Lying is not always the same as the “Nazis at the door” scenario. And if any of you were actually philosophers, you would know that. Everyone thinks they’re honking Aristotle these days though. Ridiculous.

    • Imp the Vladaler

      I don’t pretend to understand fully the Church’s teaching on the issue. Smarter and better-informed people than me have puzzled over this, and I don’t presume to tell them how to do their jobs.

      When I read “To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error,” (2483), I puzzle a bit over how this reads in the original Latin, and over what it means to “lead someone into error.” Not all words that convey a message that is not factual are condemned: we can act in plays (Mark, despite his beard, is not Chesterton), and I don’t think that the Church has condemned verbal irony (although I wouldn’t bet my house on it). In those cases, there’s no attempt to deceive.

      While discussions here have concluded – with strong support from Thomists – that certain forms of deception are permissible, deception would seem to be an act again the truth. This makes me wonder whether Notre Dame or Boston College can run play action, given that a fake handoff is an action contrary to the truth (you’re not handing off, you’re passing), designed to lead your opponent to believe something false about your intentions. I don’t think it would be wrong to stuff a pillow into your shirt and to say to an abortionist “can you tell me about your health services for me?”

      We therefore know two things: it’s not always morally wrong to utter words that are not the truth, and (if Aquinas is right) it’s not always morally wrong to act in a way that causes people to believe things that are not true. But is he right? I don’t know how deception fits in with the whole “act against the truth” thing. Is that “error,” or is “error” something other (and larger) than just being wrong about a fact?

      So this becomes a tough question under tough circumstances, which is largely why we say that “hard cases make bad law.” I wouldn’t want to construct a general moral judgment of lying around what’s permissible, tolerable, or moral when the SS comes a-knockin’. What I do know is that the Nazis aren’t at the door, and that we should order our lives in such a way that we don’t actively look to lie, and that we are wise enough to come up with ways not to lie when the ends that a lie would serve are just.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Lying is not always the same as the “Nazis at the door” scenario.

      It is not always the same in gravity. It is not always the same in subjugation of will. It is always the same in type.

      In other words, a man lying to Nazis at the door is surely less culpable in his sin than the man who lies about cheating on his wife. A man with a gun to his head, being told to tell a lie, surely has less (if any) culpability.

      It still doesn’t change the fact that it is a lie, an offense against the truth. Indeed, I’d say that yes, lying is the same as the Door-Nazis scenario, but the degree of sinfulness varies.

  • Marthe Lépine

    And how about what has been called “mental reservation”? For example, I have been known to answer asking if I did receive their e-mail about some work to do, “Yes, it’s right here on my desk” (true) while “neglecting” to add that on my desk, apart from the computer, stand a number of intermingling piles of papers and books sometimes reaching as high as two feet, and that their paper is somewhere in this mess. It remains true that the client’s work will be done by the deadline, however…

    • Marthe Lépine

      Oh… and sometimes the cat jumping on the desk causes an avalanche that further mixes things up!