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Joined: 2009/1/4
Posts: 353

 lying(talked with my professor)


I have a writing assignment that really has got me baffled on how to begin. I am suppose to write a creative fiction piece that has the main character lying. The lie has to be justifiable and for the good of others. Is there even such a thing as justifiable lying? Isn't all lying considered sin according to the Bible?

Any help or thoughts on this??

in Him

 2010/3/13 16:03Profile

Joined: 2008/4/7
Posts: 797

 Re: lying

[u]Re. the BIble[/u]: I have heard others point to the midwives that failed to kill Hebrew children, David faining madness, Rehab and the spies and call that lying.

[u]Re. the Assignment[/u]: Lying in love verses speaking the Truth in Love strikes me as a fruitful field for "creative fiction" that could have some redeeming value.

When I think about it, all lies connect to [u][b]self[/u][/b]-justification, an alternative to the justification that Christ provides. And every time I look into lying "for the good of others", I find things like the fear of man, the lack of Divine Love (in which to speak Truth), personal opinion and control, etc.

 2010/3/13 16:59Profile

Joined: 2006/6/15
Posts: 343

 Re: lying

The reason this baffles you is because you are enrolled at a school that promotes the belief of situational ethics... a product of post-modernism.

There is no absolute right and wrong... everything depends on the situation. There is no such thing as truth.

You could challenge your professor based on these premises... stating that you do not look at life from the paradigm of situational ethics.

edit-- possible objections from scripture...

Rahab lied to the state authorities when they came and asked for the spies... yet God chose her to be a part of the lineage of Christ.

The Egyptian maids lied to Pharaoh regarding the Jewish women and their children... but God did not punish them for it...

Possible practical example in history...

Nazi authorities come to your house looking for Jews... you know that they will kill them if you hand them over... so do you lie? Or do you tell them the truth and allow murder to happen?


 2010/3/13 17:19Profile

Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2895
Philadelphia PA

 Re: lying

Dear Ellie,

It is a difficult question to answer. We know that no lie is of the truth. But is it ever permissiable to withold the truth or to distort it in some way that it may be mistaken by others, for the sake of others?

I think If we are asking these things from the point of view to satisfy a theological curiosity(I do not mean you are doing this) then I would want to run away from such a question. I want no part of answering something like that.

I have heard about believers that have had to wrestle with these things in very real situations where the lives of their dear ones and their neighbors were hanging on their anwswers and where to say a true thing might have caused someone else to be tortured or killed. I remember one story of belivers being questioned by the police as to where they were going when their gatherings were illegal. Their answer was that they were going to the house of their family, that their eldest brother had died and they were going to read His testament.

It is no theological triffle to ask a question like this, in situations like that.

God is the truth. We know that He is always able to judge when our words were right or wrong. No matter how we answer this question, we know that we always desire to tell the truth and we always desire to answer so that our conscience will be clear before God in what we have said.

Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2010/3/13 17:30Profile

Joined: 2009/12/4
Posts: 1860

 Re: lying

Well I thought of a way around such a delema, express in your story that your Main Character doesn't know Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour, Lyes about something in a justifiable manner according to the world's standards, Then through the Witness of another in the story (a Christian) meets Christ Jesus and repents of lying. :) Just a thought you can take or leave it if you like. I do hope that it helps

God Bless,

Matthew Guldner

 2010/3/13 19:04Profile

Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 1519
Santa Cruz California


You could always look at Rahab and how she lied to protect the spies sent from Israel.

That's from the Scriptures.

Or you could look at modern day people who have to lie to authorities to protect missionaries or churches.

Hope that helps you with some material.

patrick heaviside

 2010/3/13 19:57Profile

Joined: 2009/1/4
Posts: 353


Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts with me on this. I think I am coming to see that I am not meant to be a writer after all. I think its time to stop sitting on the fence and get moving:)

in Him

 2010/3/14 3:03Profile

Joined: 2008/10/25
Posts: 3426
This world is not my home anymore.

 Re: lying


What kind of writing have you wanted to do? Historical or modern religious romance, thrillers, 007 type stuff or biographical? Because truly if you have had a lifelong passion for writing, you cannot let this one class beat you but then on the other hand, if you've not have a lifelong passion for writing, it should be easy to let writing go.

Perhaps you need to put yourself in the shoes of the character... when and where and under what circumstances would you feel compelled to lie? But your instructor wants this lie to benefit the good of others or mankind.

I can think of one but it's not religious; I don't think everything has to be, does it? (huge grin)

Sometimes I work with handicap teenagers (& slow learners) and no one I know would dream of telling one student, let alone an entire class of teenagers that they will never be able to learn algebra or live alone; so am I or the teacher lying to them? I personally don't think so b/c we cannot limit the learning of anyone, if they believe the skies the limit, then maybe they'll learn to shop, cook, wash their clothes and balance their own checkbooks in order to take care of themselves and be productive! This is for the good of the student's, their families and the community.

Whatever you choose about your writing, God bless you in it!!


 2010/3/14 11:06Profile

 Re: lying

The topic of lying has been discussed on SI before, and you might like to look for the old threads.

I believe that mguldner has made a good point, in line with John 8:44. There is bound to be a way that you can tell as story as a narrator, getting inside the mind of someone who thinks it's okay to lie, and who justifies it to himself because within his (or her) own personal philosophy, lying is okay (the means) if 'the end' justifies it.

There is no reason at all why you shouldn't bring out this conflict with scripture, within your story, quoting 1 Cor 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God...' and Col 2:8.

In other words, instead of creating a character with the perspective he [i][b]believes[/i][/b] lying is okay, you can have your character lying to please another character, against a background of knowing scripture forbids it.

After he has lied, an alternative to him repenting, would be for him to slide away from God, the more he denied truth (Rom 1).

I had a Lutheran neighbour, once, who was doing a part-time degree in English. The class was asked to read a book the philosophy of which she found profoundly offensive, even though it's a classic, so, she asked the acting Head of Dept if he could give her something else, because of the religious issues, and he agreed. The actual Head of Dept was furious when he returned, but she was just extremely grateful not to be battling with hundreds of pages of junk, stuck her nose in the air and proceeded to come top of the class!

My point is, God will honour you if you honour Him. If the remit for your exercise does not specifically state that you cannot quote scripture, then go ahead and take some creative writing liberties.

Even if the remit states you have to write in the first person singular, as if it is you that is lying, there is no reason you could not give an incontrovertibly fictional title, using words such as fantasy, dream, unlikely tale, alter ego and so on, to distance yourself from it. Or, you can simply begin or end it in such a way that it's clear it's not your story, but one told you by someone else.

These days (and for the last at least 50 years), there has been an academic onslaught against truth, which Christians find hard to negotiate. However, it should only make you stronger. Remember, the person reading loves to be lost in the meanderings of another person's mind. Basically, that is what fiction amounts to.

The study of much English literature is only an excuse to escape the bounds of legal decent and honest expressions of reality, into so-called freedom of speech, which allows every kind of pollution the writer permits to escape from his imagination in a manner palpable to others.

My first thought when I saw your leading post, was to suggest you retell Genesis 3 from the serpent's point of view. You can then slip seamlessly forward 4,000 years to the writings of Paul, and quote some of Romans 5, 6, 7 and 8, and 1 Cor 15 'as in Adam all die' for instance - in any order which suits your plan.

Then, your story will definitely take in 'someone' lying because he believes it will 'help' others - according to his own point of view, of course - and by explaining the truth afterwards, the extent of the lie will be highlighted even more boldly. You don't need to offer a running commentary. Just leave it all laid out as your 'story'. It is, after all, an exercise in creative writing, so, you can make the tree of the knowledge of good an evil as beautiful or plain as you like. After all, Eve had never considered that the fruit would be 'good to eat', so, maybe it was quite drab-looking.

You could also make as much as you like of the shock Adam and Eve must have had when their glory left them as a result of beginning to die.

One last thought: 'imaginiation', is about creating images - idols - which are worshipped instead of God. The Hebrew word can be translated 'stubbonness'. In other words 'when they knew God' (Rom 1) implies that no-one who tells a lie, really, deep down on their heart, actually believes it is true. [i]Telling[/i] it (as opposed to [i]thinking [/i]it, is about manipulating another into a false view of reality. If you're cunning, you could get an excellent mark for what you write. Nothing in the remit prohibits you from retelling another's story.

(Sorry for rambling a bit, but I hope this helps you get a handle on how to keep your inner integrity, while complying, and maybe beating the teacher at his own devices.)

 2010/3/14 12:56

Joined: 2009/1/4
Posts: 353


Hey everyone

First let me say thank you to everyone, I really am thankful for everyone being so willing to share their thoughts.

Lysa you asked what kind of writer I wanted to be. I always wanted to be a romance writer, along the lines of Jane Austin. Getting caught up in the characters, watching them grow and struggle with challenges, and heartaches, it has been a desire of my heart since I was first introduced to poetry when I was five years old. (sigh)

That is where the real problem is though,writing should not be the desire of my heart, only Jesus should hold that place. I am seeing that if I have a passion for anything at all, it should be for Him and His Kingdom. I do love to write, and I do get caught up in my characters and their world when I do write. Its easy to get lost in a place where I can resolve anything how ever I like. I can make the day cloudy and dreary, or I can make the sunshine bright and brilliant with only soft summer breezes to cool the air. The problem with it all is that its not real, my tales do nothing to draw others to Christ and they do nothing to further His Kingdom. They are frivolous and I am learning that many of my romantic notions probably do more harm then anything else because they set others up with expectations that can never be a reality. I have found the longer I sit in this class the more I feel drawn to the Lord to be about His Kingdom, truly being out there to live for Him. As I search my heart and look deeper I am realizing that my love for writing has been a way to feed into my own vanity and self nature. I wanted to be the author that made other young women sigh, and fall desperately in love with "My" characters. It has all been about self. For me at least at this time, walking away is the right choice and I really feel a freedom in Him in doing so. Letting go of this has not been as difficult as I would have thought it to be:)

in Him

 2010/3/14 14:13Profile

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