Recently my wife celebrated her 30th birthday. Turning thirty seems to be pretty rough for women. It seems guys have a more difficult time turning 40. Maybe thats because guys tend to stay active later in life. My wife handled it pretty well, but it was rough for her too.
I planned a small surprise get together for her on the evening of her birthday. She asked me that morning if I planned some kind of surprise party. I basically inferred that I wouldn’t do such a thing. (wink, wink) I guess you could say I had to lie to keep it a secret.
That begs a great question. Is it ever okay to lie? To me lying is purposefully trying to deceive. People often share a false truth when telling jokes, is that lying? What about leading someone to believe that there is no party to keep a surprise party a surprise?
Some people hold to the fact that to lie is always a sin and therefore always wrong. Other people believe that lying is typically wrong, but in certain circumstances when lying is taking the moral high ground is acceptable (situational ethics). I tend to believe the latter.
A great illustration for lying to take the moral high ground could be seen during WWII. Corrie Ten Boom’s family on several occasions hid Jews in their house to protect them from the Germans. Their religious convictions led them to believe that lying to the Nazi soldiers was morally acceptable considering what was happening to the Jewish people.
But there is also biblical precedence for lying to take a morally higher ground. Hebrews 11:31 recognizes the prostitute Rahab among a long list of people often referred to as “Heroes of the Faith. Rahab was the resident of Jericho that hid the spies and lied about them to the officials of the city. Because of her act of kindness to these Israelite spies, she was spared when the city was destroyed. James 2:25 argues that Rahab was considered “righteous” because of what she did for the spies. She lied for them.
But we must be careful to not use this example as basis for lying for any reason. It could lead to a very slippery slope. The Bible is still very clear that lying typically is wrong. Rarely will we be faced with a situation where lying is morally the better option. Of course in my situation, it was really in fun to provide a great birthday experience for her. Is that so wrong?