What Else Can Live Action Possibly Do?

What Else Can Live Action Possibly Do? May 6, 2013

I was pleasantly surprised to see that quite a number of readers agreed with my critique of Live Action’s tactics last week.  I was more or less expecting a nasty firestorm like last time.  But though, as we shall discuss in a moment, there were a number of complaints, attempts at rebuttal, and flat-out bizarre ad hominems, a great percentage of people responded with variations on “This makes sense.”

The disagreements fell into various categories, some of them reasonable, some not.  At the unreasonable end of the scale were things like “Jesus tempted people to commit murder too” arguments that took my breath away.  Also pretty much crazy were the various attempts to simply ignore the possibility that I wrote what I wrote because I believe what I wrote.  These boiled down to mysterious dichotomies like the reader who asked “Is it a ploy or his intellect?”  I’m not quite sure what that means but I think it could mean “Is he cynically saying these outrageous things no sane person could believe to get attention and sell his books or is he one of these smart alec edjimacated people whom much learning hath made mad?”

In answer to the first half of the dichotomy, it appears to be only in the circles of combox conspiracy theorists that the notion “I know!  I will say something guaranteed to enrage a large part of my audience!  That will ensure they will buy my books!” seems like sound reasoning.  In answer to the second part of the dichotomy, I don’t have much learning, just a respect for the actual teaching of the Church even when it gets in the way of taking moral shortcuts to strongly desired goals and away from greatly feared monsters.

Here’s the deal: incredible as it sounds, I wrote what I wrote because I believe what I wrote, not for some other nefarious purpose.  The fact is, the Church says you cannot lie and you *especially* cannot lie in order to tempt somebody to do grave evil.  It’s really that simple.  That’s why I caution against Live Action’s tactics.

Now, as to more reasonable rebuttals of this basic position, there are several.  But they virtually all boil down to consequentialist arguments.  The stakes are high so anything goes!  It’s not really lying because the goal is to expose the truth.  It’s double effect.  All of this is the same sort of thinking we saw in the torture debates and in rationales for nuking Japan and in all the excuse-making for consequentialist reasoning that always pops up (including, by the way, for abortion itself: “I seek the freedom and happiness of the mother. If the fetus unfortunately has to die in achieving that good end, it’s double effect.  I wasn’t trying to kill a baby, but spare a woman the anguish of a responsibility she is not ready to bear.”).  Basic scenario: We want to do something obviously wrong: in this case, lie and try to entice somebody to make themselves an accessory to murder so they can be made to look bad.  But we want to do this wrong thing for some good end.  So we focus on the good end and and try to simply ignore the fact that we are doing evil to achieve it.  After that, it simply becomes a matter of coming up with more and more creative (and soon ridiculous) rationales for doing evil.

The most emotionally appealing rationale for doing evil in this particular case is the one I mentioned in my initial post: “These Planned Parenthood bastards are murderers so let’s nail them any way we can.”  When I point out that tempting them to commit murder is wrong, the volcanic emotional response (which carefully avoids the reality of the numerous deeply conflicted Abby Johnsons, Carol Everetts, Sue Thayers and Bernard Nathansons out there and prefers to see PP staff as purely irredeemable monsters) is that it is outrageous to speak as though the person saying, “I want to murder my baby.  Will you help me and make sure it’s dead” is tempting these butchering monsters.  With that emotional vulcanism goes an impressive spray of rhetorical lava to the effect that I am a moral idiot who thinks fibbing is as or more serious than murder, or who would moronically turn the Jews over to the Nazis out of some brain-dead sense of prissy puritanical superiority or who thinks acting or writing fiction or Jesus telling parables is lying.  The folks saying these things, who are obviously late to the discussion, should turn to the copious replies I have made to all these objections.  Bottom line: Attention Dutch Jews! Your secret is safe with me, because  I am not such a fool as to think the Nazis at the door will leave if I lie to them.  I know the *real* trick to saving your lives is not to lie well, but to hide you well and then invite the Nazis in to search and offer them coffee and cheery smile, since search they shall.

What I want to focus on here is a couple of things germane to this discussion, which is, I repeat, not so much about lying as about the purpose of the lie, which is to tempt somebody to agree to mortal sin.  That is really the nub of the problem.  And there is no getting around that this is the tactic being used.  To recap from the post a reader (with some training in moral theology, by the way) sent as he analyzed the transcript of the video:

She says (more than once) that the child’s father (1) told her to go get an abortion and (2) is paying for her to do so. Her being there is exploratory inasmuch as she’s “not 100% sure”. This latter one *could* be regarded as broad mental reservation, although I think circumstances are challenging for that. But the former is an out-and-out lie.

Consider this exchange (on page 13 of the transcript):

“Woman: ‘Cause I’m, like, just so scared of, like–

Dr. Santangelo: Sure, sure. Obviously, you know?

Woman: –having to be stuck with the responsibility. So would you make–but would you make sure that it, like– Dr. Santangelo: Yeah.

Woman: –it doesn’t survive?”

This isn’t a leading question. This is a lie. The “hypothetical” “it” here is not merely a “what if” abortion but an abortion that has been indicated to be sought and expected. (The boyfriend gave her money for it).

She’s saying, “This abortion that I want to have… will you make sure the baby is dead and not alive?”

Not a generic cover-all kind of scenario.

In fact, it’s the specificity that matters so much here from the moral point of view too. When speaking generically, an “ill intent” to sin wouldn’t necessarily be imputed to the abortionist – not just yet, anyway. But because of the proximity of the “would-be” act to the consideration, if I were spiritually counseling this guy, I’d say he’s guilty of choosing that object. To kill *this* baby.

And that is the core problem here.  What the Live Action agent has done is ask someone to help them commit murder.  It does not matter one iota that the person she is asking has committed murder before.  It does not matter one iota that the person she is asking to commit murder does it for a living. What matters is that they have asked somebody to help them commit murder.

It does matter that the person she is is asking to help her commit murder is more likely to succumb to the temptation she is presenting, because it makes the sin of temptation even more grave than if they were likely to resist (just as knowingly offering a drink to a recovering alcoholic is more sinful because you know they are likely to lapse).  One reader, in desperation to avoid this fact, attempted to argue that since “temptation is interior” therefore it is impossible for one human being to tempt another and the guilt is all with the person tempted, not the person tempting them.  I’m sure, at other moments, the same reader has stern things to say about drug dealers, models who dress provocatively, and those priests who seduce children and are now plunging toward the seabed with millstones around their necks.  But for the special purpose of coming up with excuses for this act of temptation, some people are willing to say almost anything.

Another favorite way to rationalize this is the Appeal to Authority.  This usually boils down to appeals to undercover work done by uniformed authority figures on TV.  How could a Catholic possibly question the moral authority of a uniformed authority figure  on TV?  Still and all, the Church does not appeal to the morally ambiguous actions of uniformed authority figures on TV.  Nor does she set a lot of stock with phrases like “getting our hands dirty to get the job done”.  Also, the Appeal to Last Best Hope Panic is unsound.  This is the argument which proceeds, “We’ve been at this for 40 years and this is the only thing that works!  Everything else is a waste of time and anybody who questions Live Action’s tactics is a prissy do-nothing coward who refuses to do a damn thing to save unborn babies!  What else can we do?”

Um, actually, lots of things.  The first thing we can do is take deep cleansing breaths, recollect ourselves, and then make a contrite apology to all the people doing zillions of fruitful and good works of prolife mercy out there who have been steadily and tirelessly fighting the battle for human life and who are responsible for saving millions of lives around the world for years and years and years.  As I mentioned previously, apostolates like 40 Days for Life have done immense good in shutting down clinics in places like Seattle’s University District, as clear a testimony to the power of prayer as you could ask for.  There are bazillions of Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  There is Abby Johnson’s fine initiative to help clinic workers listen to the better angels of their natures and transition out of abortion work.  There are, in fact, gobs of other approaches to the problem that do not, in the slightest, involve lying to anybody or tempting them to commit mortal sin. To dismiss them all and batten on this is our only hope is wildly irresponsible panic.

The irony of all this is that there is even plenty of work for Live Action if they would just drop these two tactics of lying and tempting to grave sin, because they are not only wrong, they are unnecessary.  Exactly the same information could be obtained without lying and without asking anybody to agree to commit grave evil.  The core of the problem is that this is the transaction being proposed by LA agents to PP workers: “I want to kill my baby.  Will you help me?”  That transaction is absolutely unnecessary in order to obtain the information being sought.  It could be gained just as easily by asking, “I am pregnant, what do you offer to do for me?”  No lie is told.  No abortion sought. And the whole conversation could proceed as before.  It really is that simple.  Why not do that instead?

Contrary to the ridiculous conspiracy theory that I have some weird animus toward Live Action as an organization and want them to fail for some bizarre reason, the reality is that I badly want them to succeed.  Murder Inc. needs to be brought down and exposure is one key compenent of that struggle.  But not at the cost of embracing lies and temptation to grave sin.  You shall not do evil that good may come of it and it shall not profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul.  Live Action is so close to doing some really good things that it is easy to fall prey to the notion that serious moral corners can be cut–just this once.  But the tragedy will be if, being this close, they succeed only in causing the prolife movement to embrace lies and temptation to grave evil as “core values” when it is absolutely unnecessary to do so.

Let Live Action instead abandon consequentialism as the Faustian Bargain it always is and pursue its noble ends by noble means.  It can be done.  It should be done.  And since, as I believe, they are motivated by a desire to serve Jesus with integrity, I trust that it will be done.

Let us be friends.

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  • Jordan Bissell

    Hi Mark,

    I am sympathetic to your reservations about lying for a good cause; I share the moral intuition that the end never justifies the means, no matter how noble the end.

    And yet, in thinking about this in relation to our Lord, it does seem like the narrative of redemption hinges on a kind of end-justifies-means framework, odd as it is to say.

    Redemption could not (or at least did not) take place without crucifixion. But the crucifixion of Christ depended on someone crucifying Him. And if there is such a thing as a mortal sin, crucifying God is one of them.

    Thus, it would seem that if God intended redemption through crucifixion, he also intended that mortal sin be committed.

    What is the relevant distinguo in this case, if there is one?

    Thanks, Jordan

    • chezami

      I reckon the relevant distinguo is that Jesus never asked or urged anybody to murder him. All he did was be himself and his enemies took care of the rest. Even “What thou doest, do quickly” can be read as a last ditch effort (after the warnings “One of you is about to betray me” and “It would be better if he had never been born” and the peace offering of the sop) to make clear to Judas “I know what you are doing” and get him to stop. Jesus does everything humanly possible to reason with Judas and begs to be spared the cup. He never tempts Judas or the Sanhedrin to kill him. But he also never backs down in speaking the truth about himself.

      • Jordan Bissell

        Thanks Chezami, that helps, I think, and I’m tempted to just say “concedo.” But on the other hand, the solution seems to leave us in the position of saying that God intended to redeem the world by means of crucifixion, but He did not intend that anyone crucify Him. That doesn’t make sense, does it? It’s like saying that I go through the drive-thru intending to get a triple cheese burger, but I do not intend that anyone serve it to me.

        • Jordan Bissell

          In other words, 1)God intended to redeem the world by crucifixion, 2)Crucifixion requires a crucifier, 3)Thus, it would seem God intended to redeem the world by means of mortal sin. We all know Christs’s rebuke of Peter when Peter suggests that he should not be crucified: “Get behind me, Satan.”

          Ah, well. Probably a trivial query at the end of the day. But there it is.

  • Imp the Vladaler

    [The information being sought] could be gained just as easily by
    asking, “I am pregnant, what do you offer to do for me?” No lie is
    told. No abortion sought. And the whole conversation could proceed as
    before. It really is that simple. Why not do that instead?

    Because Jesus didn’t go to prostitutes and say “I’m a man. What do you offer to do for me?”

    I agree that lying is wrong, but I don’t think this kind of deception is appreciably better. If you’re worried about tempting someone to sin, it’s a distinction without a difference. An abortionist kills for monetary gain. Putting a pregnant woman in his office provides a temptation to sin.

    Don’t do that. You wouldn’t say to an alcoholic “I have a bottle of rum. Any thoughts?” You wouldn’t say to a child molester “I’ve got a four-year-old who needs a babysitter. Do you know anyone?”

    • chezami

      I don’t see how. No abortion is sought. What is sought is “What do you guys do here?” If the person *offers* or pressures the LA agent to abort, that’s on them, not on the LA agent. Indeed, if they pressure her, that is exactly what needs to be exposed. She is not asking them to commit murder.

      • Imp the Vladaler

        Suppose the abortionist had prayed that morning before work: “lead us not into temptation.” Which is more consistent with what he asked of God: an empty office, with no pregnant women coming in to inquire about his services, or a pregnant woman coming in and giving him the opportunity to offer an abortion?

        • chezami

          Not her problem. This is like saying Jesus tempted Judas by not refusing to do anything that offended him. As long as the LA agent does not seek an abortion, she is free to ask all the questions she pleases. She is also free to neglect to mention that the conversation is being recorded.

          • Imp the Vladaler

            Jesus never practiced deception of any kind, not with Judas or anyone else. He was the target of deception and rhetorical traps, not t’other way ’round.

            Your response doesn’t engage with my question. I contend that it’s better not to give someone the opportunity to decide to sin. You don’t put a bottle marked “Bacardi” in front of an alcoholic, even if you filled it with water, and even if you say “this is my rum, and I’m not giving any of it to you.”

            Let’s say the abortionist had no consultation appointments that day. No opportunities to commit the sin of offering an abortion that day. Is it better for the abortionist’s soul for a pregnant LA woman to walk in there, or to stay outside so he has no appointments?

          • chezami

            Correct. Jesus did not deceive. But he also did not reveal all he knew. He said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” knowing that some of his hearers would use those words against him at his trial as a claim that he was some kind of terrorist bent on destroying the temple. He chose not to correct or rebut them. We are not bound to reveal all that we know. We are bound to not lie.

            • Imp the Vladaler

              Correct. Jesus did not deceive.

              Stop there. That should be our model. And yet instead of imitating Christ, in this whole conversation we’re coming very close to asking “what is truth?”

              I’m really worried about tiptoeing near to a line where playing on the misinformation, ignorance, misunderstanding, or misconceptions of others causes the message that you communicate to them to be really close to lying. At some point we’re starting to make the case for fog.

              What if I walked up to a cop and said “officer, right around the corner, there’s a man beating his child”? The cop assumes that I’m reporting a violent assault. But what I meant was that the dad is defeating his child at a game of HORSE. I haven’t lied. It’s on the cop for misunderstanding me, right?

            • Un Published

              Thou hast deceived me, O Lord, and I am deceived: thou hast been stronger than I, and thou hast prevailed. I am become a laughingstock all the day, all scoff at me.

              Jeremiah 20:7

              • chezami

                Great. Protestant proof-texting to try to turn God into a liar for the special purpose of protecting your favorite new folk hero. The Conservative Catholic Anti-Charism of Discernment marches on. Bye!

    • wineinthewater

      I think the disconnect here is that deception is not a moral good. At best, deception is a morally neutral act.

      LA has a good intent, but the means are evil. A morally good or even morally neutral act pursued with evil intent is also evil. So it is with deception. What good intent could accompany holding a bottle before an alcoholic? Jesus was never in the position (as far as we know) where a prostitute needed to be exposed.

      Means, ends and intent. If any embraces evil, the whole act is evil .. despite what good might lie in the other elements.

  • The real problem is that, as bad as late term abortions and infanticide is, the best evidence against Planned Parenthood and the federal government right now from a left wing standpoint can be gathered by any non-white student in any non-white high school in the nation; and Planned Parenthood will actually pay the student to gather the evidence.

    I am referring of course to the incredibly racist and borderline pornographic Teen Outreach Program, paid for with your tax dollars to preach the wonders of contraception, abortion, sterilization, and proper condom use while having oral sex. The in person classes are available in non-white majority high schools (six in Northern Oregon alone) and the students are paid $5 for getting a signed consent form and an additional $5 for every class attended in the 5 hour series. The online version (NSFW in my opinion) is at http://www.takecaredownthere.org/ (with the catchy tag phrase, “Be the smartest person in the bed!”).

    Because, of course, the best way to reduce minority poverty, is to exterminate minority races, right?

  • I don’t have a hard fast position on this. Still fluid in my mind as to where I stand on this whole Live Action thing.

    But, I think Live Action could actually bring out repentence through public shame. Here are people giving counselling that they will make sure that the baby dies, and then these videos get put on YouTube. Maybe they never really thought about how ugly that sounds and maybe it will start to break the wall in their own hearts. Maybe not, I suppose it could harden them further, but I don’t think that is the only possible response.

    And, so, I got to thinking about undercover cops and clandestine services. During a war, we kill in order to defend ourselves. And, during a war, undercover agents might even have to kill their own in order to get into a position of trust, and it’s considered part of the strategy of war. During war, is lying and deception a sin, when it is done in self-defense? Could lying be justifiable from a just war stance? Maybe Live Action fits into this category?

    Be easy on me Mark. I like you a lot and I respect your opinions. 🙂

    • Imp the Vladaler

      And, during a war, undercover agents might even have to kill their own in order to get into a position of trust, and it’s considered part of the strategy of war.


      • Scott W.

        What Imp said, as the CCC says,

        2312 The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. “The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties.”

        Once one starts down this ‘all’s fair in war’ road, it doesn’t logically stop. So even though we know the truth that lying is wrong in and of itself (meaning double-effect is off the table) we can reasonably ask that if it isn’t true, why should Live Aid stop at lying?

  • Hi Mark,

    Interesting article. I am curious if, based on your line of reasoning, no Catholic could, in good conscience, act as a spy, CIA agent, or undercover cop where part of their job is falsely holding themselves as someone that they are not.

    • chezami

      As I say, please familiarize yourself with what I have written previously.

  • Scotty

    The Golden Rule helps make a quick and easy judgment of the Live Action modus operandi.

    It is obvious that Live Action is inviting any number of anti-Catholic organizations or individuals to try the same “sting operation” tactics against the Church – bishops, priests, crisis pregnancy center employees & volunteers, etc….

    What happens when a man brings a hidden video/audio recorder into a confessional, admits (lying, of course; he’s just an “actor”) to the sexual abuse of a minor who is still at risk, and subsequently “exposes” the priest for not contacting police with information that can save a minor from further abuse?

    And when that video comes out, on what grounds does Live Action (or its supporters) jump up-and-down condemning it?

    These tactics have the potential for huge and real blowback on pro-life organizations and the Catholic Church. In the end, is it really worth it?

    • Imp the Vladaler

      What happens when a man brings a hidden video/audio recorder into a confessional, admits (lying, of course; he’s just an “actor”) to the sexual abuse of a minor who is still at risk, and subsequently “exposes”
      the priest for not contacting police with information that can save a
      minor from further abuse?

      Then the Bishop of that Diocese explains that the seal of the Confessional is absolute. That’s what happens.

      Next question?

      • Scotty

        Whatever explanation a Bishop (or, more likely, his PR people) gives about the seal of Confession, it certainly doesn’t solve the huge problem that in the public mind a Catholic priest has “enabled” a child predator.

        Similarly, whatever PP might publicly say – e.g., that Live Action violates the confidentiality and trust between doctor and patient – will do little negate the public backlash it receives from these “sting” videos.

        • Imp the Vladaler

          Doctor-patient confidentiality is controlled by the patient.

          • NickD

            Just as priest-penitent confidentiality is controlled by the penitent

  • Ruth Vella

    following your saying that LA “tempted” people to murder, one person asked – asked not stated – that since Jesus was silent before Pilate and since he did not defend Himself, should he be accused of “tempting” Pilate to kill him? So nobody said that Jesus “tempted” Pilate or people to murder. (that was TURNED into a statement by yourself – unfortunately)

    • Scott W.

      I went back to the entry just to be fair to the commenter because Mark does occasionally post too hastily. Most of the time however, his first response is the right one, and that’s the case here. He said, “Mark, wasn’t Jesus kind of tempting the Romans to mortal sin to kill Him? I mean, if He had just given Pilate a reason to let Him go, I’m sure Pilate would have done so. Too bad you weren’t around back then to advise Him.”
      The first part is a question, yes. But, the “Too bad you weren’t around back then to advise Him” is classic internet snark. It’s not an innocent question, it’s a rhetorical bad-faith “gotcha!” question and Mark’s response was appropriate.

  • Un Published

    A) LA tempts an abortionist to sin mortally.

    B) Tempting an abortionist to murder a baby is scandalous.

    C) LA is scandalous.

    Response to (A):

    James 1:14 But every man is tempted by his own
    concupiscence, being drawn away and allured.

    An abortionist is tempted by his own concupiscence, being drawn away and allured.

    Response to (B):

    James 1:15 Then, when concupiscence hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin. But sin, when it is completed, begetteth death.

    An abortionist’s concupiscence conceives Molech worship. When Molech worship is completed it begets abortion.

    Concupiscence toward abortion belongs to the abortionist not LA.

    LA exposes where the concupiscence lies. It does not place it there.

    Response to (C):

    LA is not scandalous. It wars against Molech and its priests and priestesses.

    Psalm 105:
    32 They provoked him also at the waters of contradiction: and Moses was afflicted for their sakes:
    33 Because they exasperated his spirit. And he distinguished with his lips.
    34 They did not destroy the nations of which the Lord spoke unto them.
    35 And they were mingled among the heathens, and learned their works:
    36 And served their idols, and it became a stumblingblock to them.
    37 And they sacrificed their sons, and their daughters to devils.
    38 And they shed innocent blood: the blood of their sons and of their daughters which they sacrificed to the idols of Chanaan. And the land was polluted with blood,
    39 And was defiled with their works: and they went aside after their own inventions.
    40 And the Lord was exceedingly angry with his people: and he abhorred his inheritance.

    We are at the “Waters of Contradiction” folks. Whose side does this article support? Judith cut the kings head off! Dare any accuse her of scandal? The article reveals Live Action is scandalous. What?

    • chezami

      All addressed in my blog entry. The rubbish that nobody can tempt another person is a lie that is only trotted out for the special purpose of trying to exonerate this particular act of temptation.

      • Un Published

        James 1:14 But every man is tempted by his own
        concupiscence, being drawn away and allured.

        An abortionist is tempted to kill a baby by Live Action or his own concupiscence?

        • Linebyline

          No. An abortionist is tempted to kill a baby by Live Action and his own concupiscence.

        • chezami

          I repeat: I replied to this stupid attempt to claim that people cannot be guilty of tempting others in the blog entry. Stop repeating stupid argument that I have already answered.

          • Un Published

            1)”But every man is tempted by his own
            2) An abortionist is a man.
            3) So an abortionist is tempted by his own concupiscence.

            Is the above three movements a “stupid attempt” to show that the abortionist’s concupiscence is where temptation lies?

            • chezami

              Your attempt is stupid because you are trying to confine all moral responsbility to the tempted person and exonerate those who tempt him. Jesus’ warning concerning millstone neckties to those who cause people to stumble is sufficient refutation of this one-sided attempt to make excuses for those who deliberately tempt others. If you persist in this stupid line of argument, you are gone.

    • Scott W.

      A). Lying is objectively wrong.
      B). The Live Aid stinger lied.
      C). Therefore the Live Aid stinger did something wrong even though it was for a good cause.

      Opposition to abortion does not grant a license to lie.

  • JoFro

    I believe the reason there was less of a firestorm compared to the last time is because the people who disagreed with your position the last time have stopped reading your blog posts.

  • mrteachersir

    Mark, to summarize, while many like your moralistic, “more Catholic than the pope” approach to topic such as this, I normally don’t. I appreciate focusing more clearly on the “temptation to commit mortal sin”, which is truly problematic. It is one thing to willfully speak an untruth (which according to some isn’t necessarily a lie), but it is completely different to willfully speak an untruth with the express intent of WANTING someone to acquiesce to committing a mortal sin.

    There was no reason the actor couldn’t start the discussion exactly as you suggest. It is most probable the conversation would end up exactly the same, probably more damning, really, if the abortionist or counselor is truly trying to sell their services.

    I’ve often struggled with the “Nazis at the door” scenario, and you are totally right: if you’ve hidden them well enough, there is no reason to overtly lie about it. I’m willing to bet that the candid and somewhat friendly way you invite them in, show off the house, and have coffee would get them out sooner, rather than later.

    • chezami

      Thanks! I’m glad we agree. Sorry I’m such an abrasive pain about this.

  • TimsH1

    I agree that LA is wrong to lie. I also think that it is being naive to think that by hiding the Jews better you wouldn’t be put in a position to lie. Given that they are hidden where they can never be found, the Nazi soldiers would likely enter the home and ask the simple question: “Do you have any knowledge of where Jews may be hiding?” Now the decision is: does one tell the truth (“Sure they are in an awesome hiding place that you will never find.” or does one lie: “No I really cannot say I do.”) If lying is always and everywhere evil (as in murder/abortion) then the person has committed an evil act. If the morality/evil or the act is determined by the intent (to save a life and save this poor Nazi soldier from doing what is inherently evil) then it would not be a sin. Certainly where it is possible lying MUST be avoided. But I tend to think that God, seeing our hearts, knows and judges accordingly.

    In the case of Live Action, they should begin by asking simple open questions and then probe further. They should avoid setting up a lie that needs to be solved but rather ask questions based on where the answers lead:
    “I pregnant, what do you offer?”, “What if the baby is born alive?”, “How would you ensure it didn’t happen?”, “Wouldn’t that be murder?”, etc.