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Author Topic: Moral Deception and Lies  (Read 4932 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: August 13, 2006, 06:20:16 PM »

Before anyone starts posting rebuttals about what this or that Father or Scripture verse says, let me start off by saying that I am well aware that many Christian texts speak clearly against lying or using deception. Just in the Scriptures alone it says that "God cannot lie" (Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18), "no lie is of the truth" (1 John 2:21), Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44; cf Acts 5:3; Acts 13:10), deception and lying is condemnedÂÂ  (Rom. 1:29; 1 Pet. 2:1; 3:10; Col. 3:9; 1 Tim. 4:2; Rev. 21:27; 22:15), etc.

Nonetheless, use of deception is pretty widespread in Christian history, and it's often not only tacitly allowed, but even spoken of in hagiographical literature as a pious act. The record of this use of moral deception started back in the Old Testament. Rahab the harlot used deception to protect the lives of Joshua and his men (Jos. 2).ÂÂ  And was Rahab condemned for this? No, she has been praised since that time by Christians. Thus James says of her: "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?" (James 2:25)ÂÂ  Gregory the Theologian goes a step further that this. In trying to calm people and not worry so much about a heavy judgment from God, Gregory brings up Rahab and says: "Rahab the harlot was justified by one thing alone, her hospitality, though she receives no praise for the rest of her conduct." (Or. 40:19)ÂÂ  And as I'm sure every Orthodox Christian on this board knows, Rahab is mentioned repeatedly in Orthodox pre-communion prayers. And rightly so, she did a good thing by deceiving those who came to her door.

Another Old Testament deception can be found in the book of Tobit. In this book (which most Orthodox theologians accept into the canon, though probably on a lower footing), Tobit says that "a good angel will go with" his son (Tob. 5:22) showing the obvious receptivity of Tobit and his family to such help. Yet, the Archangel Raphael chose to lie about his identity (5:11-13), only revealing at the end of the story who he truly was (12:11-15). Also in the Old Testament is the story of how a prophet of Israel hid his identity, in order to trick the king of Israel into unwittingly condemning his own actions (1 Kings 20:35-43).

This kind of activity hasn't ceased since Christ came. In fact, it's quite common in hagiographical literature for the saints to use deception (usually, though not always, for the good of someone else). St. Nektarios of Aegina, for example, used deception many times (according to the books I've read on him, at least). One that comes to mind is when a student that was under him wasn't doing the cleaning work assigned to him, and Nektarios did this work for him and then let everyone assume that it had been the child who had done the work. Such examples of saints doing good things for others and then letting them take the credit is quite common. Also not uncommon (especially in books like the Sayings of the Desert Fathers) is saints pretending to not hear, pretending to not be home, etc. In still other cases, female saints would dress up like males in order to trick monasteries into letting them enter and become "brothers". My daughter's patron saint, Athanasia, is one example. We would never have known about such behavior had it not been for Orthodox hagiographers writing and then copying it into their works.

So why would an agnostic care about this? Aside from finding Christian theology and history interesting, I bring it up because if I said (as an agnostic) that lies were sometimes ok, at least some Christians would accuse me of relativism, or just plain being sinful. But it's not relativism, it's contextualism, and even most Christians can probably see this if they can just get it out of their heads that if one lets go of rigid absolutism they will automatically become wicked relativists. It's not an either/or, black/white, type of thing.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2006, 06:22:33 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2006, 06:55:31 PM »

You are the most exciting poster here. I am not sure what to think of all this. Of course you were not looking for a lame catholic in the pew's comments. But, your post makes me wonder why we ignore these things. Why not explore this thought?
The funny thing is if Satan is "the authour of lies" and deception, a murderer from the beggining, etc, does this mean-----that he is amoung us and even in us in times that are convienient for us to "use" him? Or are we wishy washy people paying lip service to God when we are really doing whatever it takes to get closer to him?
Hmmm.
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2006, 09:40:19 AM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

That is a very interesting concern.  I was thinking about it this morning and the only thing I could come with is what the intention behind the deception was.  I think intent plays a very large role in what should be judged a sin or not.  In the case of Satan being the father of lies and deception, his intent is clear.  He wishes to drag as many souls as possible into hell with him.  His sole aim is the complete destruction and seperation of mankind from God.  Thus, his intent is evil. 

That is not so in the case of the Saints.  Often, they use deception to hide their spiritual gifts or to allow others to take credit for their actions, thereby allowing the others to grow spiritually and learn what it means to truly serve.  Granted, the Saints are given wisdom from the Holy Spirit when it comes to these matters and thus behave accordingly.  The intent, therefore, is to be humble.  Humility, as many Saints have said, is the mother of all virtues. 

Just my thoughts.  Please pray for me.
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2006, 10:13:47 AM »

The intent, therefore, is to be humble.ÂÂ  Humility, as many Saints have said, is the mother of all virtues.ÂÂ  

This is an interesting point. How often have we lied or decieved out of pride? Clearly that is wrong.

However, I'm not sure I can endorse on a personal level (i.e., for myself) the concept that "I can lie if it's for someone's benefit". I don't think I am sufficiently spiritually mature for such a judgment, and so I will 'let my no mean no and my yes mean yes'. Perhaps saints can do such a thing because---well, they're great saints and are much closer to the Lord than I ever shall be. Glory to God!

Now that doesn't mean that I can't cushion the blow if I think the truth may hurt someone, but still the truth would be given. But this is just me, and I'm a sinner.
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2006, 11:01:37 AM »

Hi...reporting from WV  Smiley

Quick comment:  I remember a while ago, another website posted a question on St. Augustine's apparent acception to certain types of lies and deceptions that protect the person from sin or danger.  So, yes, intent is everything.

I'm also open to so-called "white lies" like telling your aunt "your cookies were great" even though you hated them.  I find nothing wrong with them, especially when seeing that St. Augustine (and the Bible along with Christian history) showed that "lying" itself is not a sin, but what occurs with "lying" or the intent behind it.

If anyone can find St. Augustine's quote on this, it would be great to clarify why some types of deceptions are acceptable.

Of course, I find that continually saying (or trying to say) the truth is a good spiritual exercise as opposed to what "must" be done.

Gotta go.

God bless.

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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2006, 11:10:29 AM »

<Aside from finding Christian theology and history interesting, I bring it up because if I said (as an agnostic)>  So having been an Orthodox Reader, you are now agnostic? - if I have the wrong person, forgive me.  I do not judge you, but wonder why you lost your faith - not expecting an answer on a forum. 
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« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2006, 12:09:00 PM »

I am not convinced intention gets you off the hook completely.

Protestants have a sincere intention of following the word of God.

That aint gonna get them off the hook, IMHO.
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« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2006, 12:14:23 PM »

Chrysostom in his 'On the Priesthood' offers a rather extended argument for why deception, with good intentions, of course, is acceptable; and if I recall properly even states that to avoid using deception for the greater good can be regarded as sinful, though It's been a while since I've read it.

While Satan may be the father of lies, God is the Creator and originator of Satan, as of all things. If Satan can use deception for Evil (or at least for what he and we perceive as evil), why can't God use it for Good?
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« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2006, 12:21:16 PM »

Chrysostom in his 'On the Priesthood' offers a rather extended argument for why deception, with good intentions, of course, is acceptable; and if I recall properly even states that to avoid using deception for the greater good can be regarded as sinful, though It's been a while since I've read it.

While Satan may be the father of lies, God is the Creator and originator of Satan, as of all things. If Satan can use deception for Evil (or at least for what he and we perceive as evil), why can't God use it for Good?

Because that would be tantamount to saying God thought Satan would be a good thing.

God never does anything BUT good.

To say otherwise, IMHO is a offensive charge against God.

But, I also think God is too powerful to have to "use" anything or anyone to do a *&^% thing he wants done.

He wants it - and guess what? It will be done.
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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2006, 12:24:17 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

I am not convinced intention gets you off the hook completely.

Protestants have a sincere intention of following the word of God.

That aint gonna get them off the hook, IMHO.

I'm not quite sure what you are saying here, so I will try and put it in my own words.ÂÂ  Protestants are sincere in there attempt to follow God, but that will not save them from the fires of Hell.ÂÂ  Is that what you are implying here?ÂÂ  If not, forgive my rash conclusion and could you define more clearly what you mean.

Please pray for me.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2006, 12:24:29 PM by Cephas » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2006, 12:25:58 PM »

Chrysostom in his 'On the Priesthood' offers a rather extended argument for why deception, with good intentions, of course, is acceptable; and if I recall properly even states that to avoid using deception for the greater good can be regarded as sinful, though It's been a while since I've read it.

Someone want to explain on a High School level how Orthodox 'fibbing' is different and acceptable from Islamic deception (whatever their word for it is called)?  I sorta understand, but just want it clearly explained.  Thanks.
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« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2006, 12:31:29 PM »

Because that would be tantamount to saying God thought Satan would be a good thing.

God never does anything BUT good.

To say otherwise, IMHO is a offensive charge against God.

But, I also think God is too powerful to have to "use" anything or anyone to do a *&^% thing he wants done.

He wants it - and guess what? It will be done.

But God does respect the free will of mankind.

I mostly posted what I did to answer Asteriktos question, and he knows the philosophical thinking that is behind my post; however, for me to explain the details my posistion would lead this post way off target. Please refer to this thread http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=8657.0 if you have any questions; I believe the issue is discussed in detail.
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« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2006, 12:35:06 PM »

But God does respect the free will of mankind.

I mostly posted what I did to answer Asteriktos question, and he knows the philosophical thinking that is behind my post; however, for me to explain the details my posistion would lead this post way off target. Please refer to this thread http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=8657.0 if you have any questions; I believe the issue is discussed in detail.

Thanks for the link. I really need all the help I can get -

But- yes, God gives free will ----
for how long?
One day this madhouse is going to come to a screeching halt-
Then how much free will is there going to be for anyone to hide behind?
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« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2006, 02:41:09 PM »

Aside: If I'm not mistaken the Greek word in the Lord's Prayer for "evil" (evil one) really means 'clever deceiver'.
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« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2006, 03:30:55 PM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9743.msg131549#msg131549 date=1155580869]
Aside: If I'm not mistaken the Greek word in the Lord's Prayer for "evil" (evil one) really means 'clever deceiver'.
[/quote]

Yes! I heard that too.

But it puzzels me how straying from God is clever. Clever deciver to humans! Yes!
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« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2006, 07:58:10 PM »

Yes! I heard that too.

But it puzzels me how straying from God is clever. Clever deciver to humans! Yes!

Also of note is the idea that the incarnation was a deceiving of the deceiver (Satan). This theology was a favourite pet topic of one of our Biblical Studies Professors at Holy Cross and, I later found out, a central element of St. Gregory of Nyssa's Incarnational Theology.
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« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2006, 11:27:38 PM »

Also of note is the idea that the incarnation was a deceiving of the deceiver (Satan). This theology was a favourite pet topic of one of our Biblical Studies Professors at Holy Cross and, I later found out, a central element of St. Gregory of Nyssa's Incarnational Theology.

Could you explain that, or provide some links that do?  Sounds interesting.
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« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2006, 11:33:50 PM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

This idea of the Incarnation being a deception of the deciever does make sense.  I mean, whenever Satan spoke to Christ he would often say, "If you are the Son of God... [insert rest of sentence here]".  It's clear that Satan had no idea until the very end who Jesus Christ was.  Again, intent is everything.

Please pray for me.
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2006, 07:33:00 AM »

"Deceiving of the deceiver" - now THAT makes sense. Great.
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« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2006, 07:41:04 AM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9743.msg131650#msg131650 date=1155641580]
"Deceiving of the deceiver" - now THAT makes sense. Great.
[/quote]

And the greatest deception of all was to accept death in order to destroy death- a bit like a Trojan Horse:

Today Hades cries out groaning:
"I should not have accepted the Man born of Mary.
He came and destroyed my power.
He shattered the gates of brass.
As God, He raised the souls I had held captive."
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« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2006, 07:43:04 AM »

His Grace Bishop Alfiyev succintly summarises St. Gregory of Nyssa's position on the matter of Christ deceiving satan:

Quote
St Gregory of Nyssa interprets the redemption as ‘deception’ and a ‘bargain with the devil’. Christ, in order to ransom people, offers the devil His very own flesh, ‘concealing’ beneath it the Divinity; the devil rushes upon it as bait, but swallows along with the bait the ‘hook’, Christ’s Divinity, and perishes.

Source: http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/10/1.aspx
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« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2006, 08:02:51 PM »

Observer

Quote
So having been an Orthodox Reader, you are now agnostic? - if I have the wrong person, forgive me.  I do not judge you, but wonder why you lost your faith - not expecting an answer on a forum. 

I wasn't a reader, so perhaps you are thinking of someone else on that point. Regarding why I am no longer a Christian, I'll try to give an answer as best I can, though it is really a matter of more factors than I could include here.

About a year and a half ago I started struggling with some issues. One set of issues was, 1) whether Genesis should be taken literally, 2) what it would mean for Christian beliefs and practices if Genesis was not take literally, and 3) the anthropological consequences of a literal and nonliteral interpretation of Genesis. Another set of issues was much more fundamental, and was basically the standard philosophical question asked by many people: how can I be sure that what I believe is true? At that point I realised that I had never really examined why I should be a Christian to begin with. I just sort of dove into Christianity nine years ago without really thinking about whether I should instead be a Buddhist, or Muslim, or Atheist.

I had read books on Christian apologetics before. I knew quite a few evidences for Christianity from my Protestant days, and some from my Orthodox ones. But I had never attempted to examine Christianity from outside of a Christian mindset. When I had considered arguments for and against Christianity before, I had always interpreted the info through a Christian lense. Unfortunately, when I took the lense away, I was not able to find something solid in Christianity to grab on to.

The obvious response is, "that's what faith is for!" Only, it's not. At least it shouldn't be. You can't have faith in something that you don't believe to be true. I mean, if I said "Sure you don't believe that George Bush is an alien, but you just have to have faith!" would that mean anything to you? You can't (and shouldn't) have faith in something that you don't accept to be true. Using the faith argument (or Pascal's wager), I might as well be a Muslim or Buddhist. "I can't find anything solid in Islam to make me think that it's the truth... but I'll have faith in it anyway".  This wouldn't be acceptable, would it? The concept of "just having faith" is only a justification for maintaining already-present beliefs when you are having doubts; as odd enough as it might sound for me to say, I respect that.  However, it is irrational to ask someone who rejects Christianity outright to apply that idea of faith in his life. What would that be asking, except that someone have faith in what they believe is wrong?

I don't want to get into all of the issues I have with Christianity that prevents me from being a believer in it, though I'll give a few. First, I don't think that Orthodox epistemology solves what it purports to solve. It does not clear up which aruthorities should be consulted when, it does not clear up how we can know that Orthodoxy is correct, and it does not clear up who it is that we are to go to for a final answer on the questions that matter the most. Various attempts at an answer are given for all these things of course, and I am not trying to denigrate these answers; I just do not find them peruasive myself. Second, I think that some of the Christian ideas are bunk, and these I am not so respectful about. For example, I think the idea of an eternal hell is complete B.S., and it has caused a great deal of psychological problems (generating fear, anxiety, etc.) throughout the last two thousand years of human history.

Third, I don't trust the Christian Church to decide what morality is, and trust the Bible even less. I'm not going to get into particulars here (I will elsewhere in the future), but I'll just say that I've read far too much that makes me doubt Christianity's ability to give the absolutely correct moral code that it claims it can. Each generation has dealt with problems, and things change over time; there is no indication of a universally accepted moral code, except that code which apparently almost all people (even those who have never heard of Christianity) acknowledge. The Judeo-Christian tradition of course has some brilliant moral ideas, such as the Golden Rule given by Jewish teachers and repeated by Jesus. There are also, unfortunately, a lot of bad ideas, some of them supposedly from the mouth of God Himself.

Another issue involves science, of which the creation/evolution debate is a part, but a very small part. As time has gone on, God has been more and more a God of gaps. Whenever there is something mysterious or unexplained, God is the answer; whenever an answer is found, God is removed from the equation, or leastwise relegated to merely "sustaining" things. As time has gone on, God has had less and less gaps to fill. I do not know that all of these gaps will some day be closed. Probably not. But enough gaps have been closed that atheism no longer seems so crazy. The Greeks and many others have had nontheistic ideas about how we got here, but it is only recently that people in the Western world could really accept atheism. By coincidence, it's only recently that atheists wouldn't get imprisoned or executed for their atheism Wink

A lot of the thoughts I had about Christianity, a lot of the arguments in favor of it, I also found alternative answers to (or I just found out that I was plain wrong). A few of these arguments that I was mistaken on (IMO) were: 1) there is no morality if there is no God; 2) the lives/miracles of saints prove Christianity is correct; 3) every society has believed in a god or been religious, therefore religion must be necessary; 4) studies have shown that intercessory prayer works; and so forth. Once I looked outside of Christianity for a bit, I was suprised how quickly answers to these types of arguments came in. And more suprising for me was the fact that many times the answers came not in some diatribe against Christianity, but in some news report or scientific study.

And, to wrap up, I'm not a Christian because I think it can be demonstrated that the prophecy made by Jesus that "the gates of hades shall not prevail against [the Church]" has not come to pass. The early Church saw in this term a number of different promises: that heresy would not prevail, that division would not prevail, that worldly powers would not prevail, that church-wide sins would not prevail, and that personal sins would not prevail against individual Christians. I think there is historial evidence that the prophecy has failed to protect the Church in all of these ways.

Anyway, hopefully I have not offended anyone. I don't claim that the above is irrefutable. Indeed, I might change my opinion on something next week, for all I know. There are some thoughts though, for what they're worth.
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« Reply #22 on: December 30, 2006, 08:23:18 PM »

I've read far too much that makes me doubt Christianity's ability to give the absolutely correct moral code that it claims it can.
I'm not sure that Christianity ever made that claim.
Even a brief glance at St. Paul's letters (especially to the Church in Corinth), shows that there was a wide spectrum of opinion about morality in the Church even from the beginning. One of the oft repeated themes in his letters is the whole "freedom from the Law" thing.
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« Reply #23 on: December 30, 2006, 08:34:01 PM »

Well, I don't really want to get into defending every one of my points... that could be dozens of threads worth of arguments, but regarding what you said...

Quote
I'm not sure that Christianity ever made that claim.

I think that that belief manifests itself every time Christianity makes absolutist statements about everything from homosexuality to apostasy. As an atheist I hear quite often from people that I must be immoral or nothing more than a relativist because I do not have an absolute, unchanging source of morality. My point is that what Christians say is fine in one century is not just wrong but inherently evil in another century. I mean, I agree with you that there is a wide range of opinion on some things, but when the Christian nations put homosexuals (not to mention atheists) to death for a long time, I find it hard to accept it's authority. I'm sorry, but from my POV they just have gotten certain things wrong for thousands of years, and that hardly inspires "faith" in Christianity. I just don't see this God who guides his Church in beliefs and morals.
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« Reply #24 on: December 30, 2006, 08:56:44 PM »

Justin,
I wasn't having a go at you. What I'm saying is that Christianity seems to have been founded on a principle which trancends moral codes (i.e., the priciple of Love), rather than setting out a moral code itself. How Love was interpreted by the Church through the ages is, I think, a seperate issue. You mention the "absolutist moral statements made by Christianity", but I would say that they are statements made by "Christians", not Christianity, and they are decieving themselves if they think they can say what the absolute, unchanging moral position of the Church is on anything other than Love. Moral codes have changed in the Church on issues, for example, usury went from being an excomunicatable offense to the basis of our economy.
The only absolute Law in Christianity is Love, everything else is an interpretation of it. Sometimes people try to interpret it in ways which are politically expedient- (and I would say this is particularly true about moral codes regarding sex since whoever controls sex controls society), but there are also those who genuinely seek to know how to live out the Law of Love in their particular historical circumstances. But even this can't be said to be "absolute"- rather, it is how the absolute Law of Love is lived in a particular time in history IMHO.
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« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2006, 11:50:56 PM »

This is how I see it (and a Catholic friend told me this).

You are allowed to withhold information from those who have no right to it. Example, you're living in France in WWII, and some Nazis knock on your door and ask you if you're hiding Jews in your house. You are. Now, the Nazis have no right to that information, so you're allowed to tell them that you're not hiding any Jews, even though you are lying.
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« Reply #26 on: December 31, 2006, 01:03:26 AM »

George, Good points  Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: December 31, 2006, 12:37:08 PM »

So having been an Orthodox Reader, you are now agnostic? - if I have the wrong person, forgive me.  I do not judge you, but wonder why you lost your faith - not expecting an answer on a forum. 

Because, just as I have done (although not at the level that Asteriktos has) he studied the history of the Church and realized that it is was all made up as they went along. Just like all other religions.
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« Reply #28 on: December 31, 2006, 02:14:43 PM »

Well, to think that certain things are always wrong in all cases is very Immanuel Kant-ish with his Categorical Imperative. Using MichaelArchangelos' example, God would want you to lie. Just like if a murderer comes at your family with a gun and you kill him. That's not a sin either, even though there is a commandment against it, because you were protecting  your family.
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« Reply #29 on: December 31, 2006, 03:24:59 PM »

Because, just as I have done (although not at the level that Asteriktos has) he studied the history of the Church and realized that it is was all made up as they went along. Just like all other religions.

Anyone who studies any religion at any depth and with any degree of objectivity will come to the same conclusion, any religion devoid of it's historical and cultural context is meaningless. If they fail to evolve and change with the changing culture it will cease to be relevant and die. Inorder to survive and prosper the primary concern of any religion should be to maintain this delicate balance.
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« Reply #30 on: December 31, 2006, 03:28:04 PM »

Quote
Just like if a murderer comes at your family with a gun and you kill him. That's not a sin either, even though there is a commandment against it, because you were protecting  your family.

Fwiw, I've been told that the commandment "Thou shall not kill" would be better rendered "Thou shall not murder," which would make sense I think (and murder would, of course, always be wrong, because of it's very definition). I totally agree with the general point being made, though. Smiley
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« Reply #31 on: December 31, 2006, 05:25:17 PM »

In order to survive and prosper the primary concern of any religion should be to maintain this delicate balance.

I agree with you. But then truth of religion is driven by culture and is no longer "unchanging". 
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« Reply #32 on: December 31, 2006, 05:35:06 PM »

Quote
I agree with you. But then truth of religion is driven by culture and is no longer "unchanging".

As OzGeorge explained it best in this thread, the highest and unchanging principle is love of neighbor - but that will be implemented differently in different societies. 
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« Reply #33 on: December 31, 2006, 09:27:23 PM »

A quick thought on this very interesting topic.

At http://www.answers.com/lying&r=67 there is an article from the Encyclopaedia of Children's Heath. Quoting briefly from it;

Lying

Definition

A lie is any deliberate deviation from the truth; it is a falsehood communicated with the intention to mislead or deceive.

Description

Lies differ in type, incidence, magnitude and consequence, with many gradations of severity, from harmless exaggeration and embellishment of stories, to intentional and habitual deceit. Behavioral scientist Wendy Gamble identified four basic types of lies for a University of Arizona study in 2000:

Prosocial: Lying to protect someone, to benefit or help others.

Self-enhancement: Lying to save face, to avoid embarrassment, disapproval or punishment.

Selfish: Lying to protect the self at the expense of another, and/or to conceal a misdeed.

Antisocial: Lying to hurt someone else intentionally.


I suggest that only the latter three of these four points relate to lying as a sin.

Sin is always self-centred, self-motivated, self-serving and even self-righteous. As speaking an untruth isn't always such, it can't always be a sin. In the prosocial sense wouldn't it fall into the category of loving one's neighbour?


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« Reply #34 on: December 31, 2006, 10:20:18 PM »

An added thought.

It's hard to imagine that that anyone would say that they would not lie through their teeth, as did Rahab, to save lives. However, while the imminent danger of someone being dragged off and slaughtered, because one insisted on speaking the truth, is rarely a consideration, there is, on a lesser scale, always the consideration of a person’s feelings.

An hypothetical example of lying in the prosocial sense would be;

A friend arrives for coffee. She is wearing a particularly ugly piece of jewellery that her husband has given her for Christmas. For my own part, I would not venture with a comment. But if that friend, clearly bubbling over with joy and delight, pressed for my approval of her present, I would not hesitate to evaluate the item from her perspective and, seeing it through her eyes, confirm it as a thing of beauty.

To me, it would be self-righteous and cruel to “truthfully” tell her I thought it was the most ugly item that I had ever seen; assassinating in the process her joy, causing her pain and possibly injuring our relationship.


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« Reply #35 on: December 31, 2006, 10:43:23 PM »

A very good point Riddikulus.  Would we be judged harshly by God if our reason for not speaking truthfully is to spare someone's feelings?   I wonder.

Juliana  Undecided
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« Reply #36 on: January 01, 2007, 12:53:32 AM »

A very good point Riddikulus.  Would we be judged harshly by God if our reason for not speaking truthfully is to spare someone's feelings?   I wonder.

Juliana  Undecided

Juliana,

From my own perspective; I would refrain from speaking my own opinion in such a situation as I have described because of the potential of doing harm. To do otherwise, would be considering the expressing of my own opinion a greater importance than the feelings of a friend/fellow human. That would be prideful. 

If I choose to respond out of charity, regarding the peace of mind of another person, as more important than my pride, I'm sure the Merciful God can overlook that I simply don’t see it as sin. As a completely flawed creature, I'm throwing myself on His Mercy with regard to all my sins, especially those committed in pride, so I’m fairly confident that He will not judge harshly when I have considered the feelings of another person more important than a prideful expression of an unimportant “truth”. 

However, even though I wouldn’t consider this “lie” a sin, I still call on God to forgive all my failures, even sins that are committed in ignorance - and I'm sure they are plentiful.
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« Reply #37 on: January 01, 2007, 01:21:31 AM »

I totally agree with you on the example you gave.  My problem is more in embellishing upon stories to increase amusement factor in social gathegs.  Some may call them "white lies" but I think that is sugar coating it.  I guess it comes down to pride.  On one hand I could say that my motivation is to give enjoyment to others by making a story funnier.   However if I stripped that away...underneath would be my self desire to be admired or thought of highly.  Yuck.  I am disgusting myself.  Anyway, sorry if I changed the subject.

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« Reply #38 on: January 01, 2007, 01:33:19 AM »

You hit the mark on self desire, its Central Standard Time here here on New Years Eve and the party where I am it is getting so boring that for the sake of conversation we keep repeating ourselves in subjects. Now we are having Seinfeld conversations of "Double dipping " and my cousins doing the the Elaine Office Dance.
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« Reply #39 on: January 01, 2007, 01:52:37 AM »

I totally agree with you on the example you gave.  My problem is more in embellishing upon stories to increase amusement factor in social gathegs.  Some may call them "white lies" but I think that is sugar coating it.  I guess it comes down to pride.  On one hand I could say that my motivation is to give enjoyment to others by making a story funnier.   However if I stripped that away...underneath would be my self desire to be admired or thought of highly.  Yuck.  I am disgusting myself.  Anyway, sorry if I changed the subject.

Juliana

Yes, I agree with what you say. Embellishment of a story can be a dangerous area. It can be harmless in the sense of it being a slightly exaggerated account of an already humourous event. Of course, it's easy to get carried away when people are laughing and enjoying such a story. To an extent we are all story-tellers - it's an expression of our creativity. And perhaps, this is with no real consequences, as people instinctively know that the intent to deceive isn't the purpose of a good yarn. On the other hand, if a story is told with the intent of making oneself out to be bigger, brighter and better than one actually is - more as an exercise in boasting - pride certainly comes into play. We've all done it!!  Roll Eyes Lord have mercy!

Again, I do believe that intent is very important.
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« Reply #40 on: January 01, 2007, 01:53:56 AM »

You hit the mark on self desire, its Central Standard Time here here on New Years Eve and the party where I am it is getting so boring that for the sake of conversation we keep repeating ourselves in subjects. Now we are having Seinfeld conversations of "Double dipping " and my cousins doing the the Elaine Office Dance.

Haha! Happy New Year to you!!
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« Reply #41 on: January 01, 2007, 04:22:40 AM »



A friend arrives for coffee. She is wearing a particularly ugly piece of jewellery that her husband has given her for Christmas. For my own part, I would not venture with a comment. But if that friend, clearly bubbling over with joy and delight, pressed for my approval of her present, I would not hesitate to evaluate the item from her perspective and, seeing it through her eyes, confirm it as a thing of beauty.


Ahhhhh....so you know my ex......it`s not my fault ...she picked it out.......
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« Reply #42 on: January 01, 2007, 01:02:37 PM »

I think that playing up a story to make others laugh is one thing, as it brings joy to people's hearts. On the other hand, if they are laughing about the foolish actions of another, making them look MORE foolish is sinful.

Unless of course it's yourself who fell and knocked over the drink table at coffee hour, in which case youre a clown!
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« Reply #43 on: January 01, 2007, 03:26:09 PM »


Ahhhhh....so you know my ex......it`s not my fault ...she picked it out.......

LOL
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« Reply #44 on: January 01, 2007, 03:44:27 PM »

I think that playing up a story to make others laugh is one thing, as it brings joy to people's hearts. On the other hand, if they are laughing about the foolish actions of another, making them look MORE foolish is sinful.

Unless of course it's yourself who fell and knocked over the drink table at coffee hour.

I really don't believe that a funny story extravagantly laced with self-mockery is at all harmful. Bringing good cheer to others at one's own expense, especially others who might be a bit down in the dumps at the time, seems almost self-sacrificial. Everyone loves a clown. (Shudder, not those fellows with appalling dress sense and big noses. They always terrified me and Stephen King didn't help that particular phobia!!) When it comes to the snide mockery of others to get a laugh, we have definitely overstepped the mark and the embellisment becomes sinful.

And I have to ask, why is the drink table always in such a silly spot? Grin

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