The Nazi at the door scenario nobody likes to discuss

There’s a knock at the door.  The Nazi demands to know if you are hiding a priest.  To save time, all you have do is tell him you deny Christ and he won’t tear your house apart, arrest your family and shoot your male children in the head.

The advocates of the “Hell yes, you should lie” school tell me I am an utter fool for saying that you cannot lie and deny Christ here.  As has been said countless times, “If it will save just one innocent life, of course you should lie to the Nazi.”

So if lying is just fine to save lives, what’s the difference between this little white lie and any other little white lie?  After all, we’ve been instructed that what matters is not the content or gravity of the lie that matters, but the fact that the person you are lying to has “no right to the truth.”  So if you deny Christ to a Nazi you are not, we are instructed, *really* lying.  So why not deny Jesus to the Nazi or  whoever else you decide has “no right to the truth”–you know, like the Christians whose burning bodies lit Nero’s gardens did.

In case you hadn’t noticed, “Nazi at the door” scenarios are emotionally manipulative games (just like “Ticking Time Bomb” yarns) constructed to force you to ignore the Church’s teaching, just as scenarios about horribly deformed children born of incest and rape and begging to be euthanized are likewise emotionally manipulative games constructed to get you to endorse abortion and euthanasia.  Any idiot can construct an extreme and desperate sob story in order to paint you into an emotional corner and portray you as a monster for disagreeing.

Meanwhile, our actual moral model is not some hypothesis, but Jesus–who never, ever lied and who never, ever tempted somebody to do evil.

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