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Answering The Atheist
August 17, 2003 / Volume 3, Issue 33

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Is lying wrong? Some verses approve lying (Joshua 2:4-6; James 2:25; Exodus 1:18-20; 1 Kings 22:21-22; 2 Kings 8:10; Romans 3:7; 2 Corinthians 12:16), while others condemn it (Exodus 20:16; Leviticus 19:11; Deuteronomy 5:20; Proverbs 12:22; Ephesians 4:25; Revelation 21:8). Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
Lying is a sin, it is condemned, and those who lie will be eternally condemned. Let us look at the verses which the questioner supposes to be in favour of lying.

The fact that Rahab's lie is recorded done not necessitate approval. The Bible records various evil actions of people without condoning such. God did not tell her to lie, nor did He justify her because she lied. When James uses Rahab as an example of justification, he does not appeal to the lie which she told, but rather her faith (see Joshua 2:8-16).

Regarding Exodus 1:18-20, on what basis does the questioner suppose this to be a lie? Is it not possible that the Hebrew women were giving birth before the midwives were able to arrive? The questioner assumes that these women were lying. Nothing in the text indicates that to be the case.

Let us finish today's article by looking at the two New Testament passages provided by the questioner. In the context of Romans 3, Paul, is dealing with objections the Jews might raised by the Jews regarding their place before God. Two very similar questions appear, first, "...if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath?" (v 5). Is it wrong for God to punish those who do wrong, since, they, by their unrighteousness have given Him occasion to demonstrate His righteousness? Certainly not! Their evil is evil, even though it is the occasion for God to show His righteousness. The second question is like the first, "...if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?" (v 7). It matters not what apparent good has come from us using falsehood, we are still to be condemned as a liar. Some accused Paul and those who worked with him of saying, "Let us do evil that good may come?" No! He expressed the exact opposite. Falsehood is always to our own destruction, regardless how it affects anyone/anything else.

The questioner ought to read the context of 2 Corinthians 12:16 to understand exactly what the apostle is saying. Earlier in this letter Paul said that he was not walking in craftiness (4:2). Here, he is using sarcasm, echoing those who criticized Paul and accused him of trickery and deceit. How had Paul been "crafty" with the Corinthians? According to the context, by loving them and expecting/receiving nothing in return (12:14-19). Surely, the questioner doesn't consider that a lie?

We'll deal with the 1 & 2 Kings passages next week. However, to this point, there is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible