Is it ever permitted to lie?

By Paul Dion, STL

Lying is something that so many of us do. We do it regarding serious things and we do it regarding inconsequential things. We do it mostly to protect ourselves from suffering the unpleasant consequences of communicating the truth. Lying is the purposeful communicating of non-facts instead of the facts that we know. Lying is not mis-speaking in error. Lying is a willful act, not matter how small or innocuous the lie may seem.

Lying is therefore an act that goes against the Will of God. It is a violation of the comfort of our brain, becaue we force the truth to the side while we make ourselves feel better because we got away with something. This kind of dishonesty can be rather insidious because it can make us feel, after a while, that everything we say is true, when in fact it is not.

So, the question is this: Is every single lie a sin? Is it a sin to praise your mother-in-law's over-salted stew? Is it a sin to deceive children into believing in Santa Claus? Is it a sin to tell a terminally ill person that everything is going to be all right? Is it a sin to tell your neighbor that your Prius gets 55 miles-per-gallon, when as a matter of fact, it only gets 42? What about the "white lies" told to children in order to quiet them down rather than to take the responsibility of disciplining them ourselves?

We do not have to continue the list. You get the point.

Is every lie a sin?

Click here to view the answer to this Burning Question.


  1. Two days after I wrote this, I had a thought. Yes, just one. I don;t get too many of those, so when I do, I write about it. Actually it was this: "I refuse to believe that the brave French, Italian, Swedes and others who lied to the Gestapo about the Jews that they were hiding committed sin. It never crossed my mind until aftr I had sent my opinion in for publication.
    So what do you think?

    Paul Dion, STL
    Theology Editor,

  2. Anonymous6:22 PM

    I think you're too hard on this issue. There are times when sometimes the non-truth needs to be said for the better good. It can save lives, futures, relationships. There are no finites but each situation should be looked at separately. I would like to believe that even God can see beyond the lie and see the good motive behind it.

  3. James:
    It always comes across as hard when ghe bottom line of something so acceptable to society is put under the light of God's expectations. We have to ask ourselves whose good we are seeking when we don't tell the truth. I the example that I gave above, the good that would come of a lie to save a life in war time far outweighs the "good" that would occur if the truth were to be told.
    Many things have been written about this topic. One of he best, in my opinion, is from he great French classic high comedy writer, Molière who gave us the "Misanthrope".
    For the sake of, I thought it better to hold a tight line because I see a deterioration of openness and accountability running rampant in our culture and I think we have to confront ourselves with the hard line in these matters.

    Paul Dion, STL
    Theology Editor,

  4. I remember going to dinner with my young adult group. I mentioned that lying was a sin. They said it wasnt, and said what was a sin was false witness against neighbor. I pointed out that they can find the veracity of my claim that lying is a sin if they consult any manual for confession.

    My objection to "for the greater good" argumnets is that God can work things for the greater good because he is infinitely wiser than the best of us, so he knows what truly IS best.

    Ecclessia Militans Apologetics