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Lawful Deception

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  • Ginny Dohms
    Message The typical Reconstructionist argument would be, what would you do as a Dutch Christian, if a Jew was hiding in your attic, and an Nazi officer asked
    Message 1 of 58 , Jul 4, 2006
      >The typical Reconstructionist argument would be, "what would you do as a Dutch Christian, if a Jew was hiding in >your attic, and an Nazi officer asked you, "are you hiding any Jews?"
      Interesting discussion.  I, too have thought about that and in looking into the Scriptures for some direction, it appears that Rahab would be a biblical example of one who used lawful deception. She hid the two spies and then lied to save their lives.  She made it into the faith's hall of fame in Heb 11 for that single commendable act of hers.  Was she commended for hiding them, for lying, or for both.  I don't think you can divorce the hiding and the lying, as the hiding was only effectual because she lied. 
      Another example would be the midwives at the time of Moses, when they lied about the Israelite women giving birth before they arrived.  They feared God more than man so would not kill the male babies, but lied as to why they could not carry out the King's orders.  Their act was commended.  (Ex 1:15-21) 
      Though it seems lawful deception was only used in extreme cases in the Scriptures, I can not find justification to condemn something that God didn't. 

      There are other cases of implicit deception like where David posed as a madman to save his life, purposely deceiving others to make it appear that he was something other than what he was.
      I am not convinced lying to gain political office would fall into the extreme categories like the Biblical accounts did, but I am not sure of the circumstances that Jerry was referring to, either, so am not making any kind of judgment call on that.
      Am I missing something here, or do most reformed people believe that lawful deception is wrong 100% of the time.  If so, I would like to hear how you would reconcile the above Biblical examples to your beliefs.
      Always learning and striving after truth....Ginny
    • Jasper
      ...who deserves the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This is an interesting discussion, as others have noted. The above concept has been
      Message 58 of 58 , Jul 7, 2006
        "...who deserves the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
        This is an interesting discussion, as others have noted.   The above concept has been mentioned several times and seemingly treated as being a scriptural requirement to provide the whole truth; and that anything less than the whole truth would be lying.   This is how I have understood the usage during this discussion.
        I've encountered the same concept elsewhere also.   Typical examples given by others are passages in Genesis 12:10-20 (vs. 10-13: "Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.  As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are.  When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live.  Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.")  and Genesis 20:1-17 (vs. 1-2: "Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur.  For a while he stayed in Gerar,  and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, "She is my sister." Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.")

        Abram and Sarai identified her in a truthful and accurate manner;  but many believe that this was sin to omit portions of the whole truth.   Apparently some in this forum also believe this was sin.
        They (outside this forum) believe that Abram was obligated to say that Sarai was his wife in order to tell the whole truth and thus avoid sinning in the matter.
        I don't understand why they think the "whole truth" ends at the "she's my wife" part.   The whole truth would involve much, much more in identifying who Sarai is.   Her parents;   her siblings;   her grandparents;   her entire lineage;   her relationship to God;   there are all things of who she is - it is unending.   Why would one presume that the whole truth ends at saying she is his wife?   Why is it not sin to omit who her parents are?   How is that determined?
        My question to those who think that way is this:   is it ever possible, in this life, to tell the whole truth? 
        Jasper -
        and thanks for the great discussion!  

        Ginny Dohms <gdawn@...> wrote:
        Susan wrote:

        >Whereas in the ninth commandment the
        > Lord says, "Thou shalt not bear false witness."

        Not exactly. It actually says: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy

        I am thinking outloud here, as I have not worked through this concept yet,
        but is it possible God here is making the distinction as to who deserves the
        truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

        In Mt 5:43, Christ distinguishes for the disciples between their neighbour
        and their enemies. He does admonish them as to how they should treat their
        enemies in praying for them, loving them, etc., but he does make a
        distinction. Their enemies were not their neighbours. Is it possible that
        in the commandments, God specifically made mention of not bearing false
        witness against thy "neighbour" as an important distinction.

        If there is a flaw in my thinking process, please correct me "gently". As I
        said, I have not worked this through, and examined the commentaries on that,
        but when Susan wrote out the 9th commandment in her last post, the absence
        of the "neighbour part" jumped out at me, and I thought perhaps this is a
        key to properly understanding the command in light of the examples in
        Scripture regarding Rahab and the midwives.

        In re-reading the LC #144, it appears that the divines really focused on
        this command as it related to their neighbour, not anyone without
        distinction. They were to preserve their neighbour's good name, speaking
        only the truth in matters of judgement and justice, a charitable esteem of
        their neighbours, rejoicing in their good name....

        Just a thought before I head out to work....Ginny

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