Lying has been brought to public attention in various and compelling ways in recent years, in the United States and around the world. Events have caused both Christians and unbelievers to take another look at the priority of truth.

The Communists have a kind of schizophrenia about lying. They subordinate ethics and morality to the interests of the class struggle. They repudiate all morality that is taken outside of human, class concepts. Therefore they consider it right to lie whenever a lie will serve to advance the Communist cause. However, the Communists find it necessary to insist that the teachings of Marx and Lenin are normative. All ideas must be judged in the light of their teaching. Thus total falsehood would bring even a Communist society to its knees.

Some Christians suppose that the commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness” is something special that belongs to revelation and not to nature. This is erroneous. The Ten Commandments are based upon what is naturally in man’s best interest. Even if there were no commandment from God to tell the truth, lying would be seen to run counter to human well-being. In the long run lying is always destructive.

The Apostle Paul deals with lying in Colossians three. He does so within the larger context of the transformed walk of believers. They are to put away anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk. Then he says categorically, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices” (Col. 3:9). The meaning is plain: lying belongs to the old order of life, truth-telling to the new. Christians are not to lie to one another.

But is a lie ever justifiable? Must we insist that lying is always wrong and should never, under any circumstances, ...

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