I recently declined an invitation to a totally redundant and boring atheist debate about lying to Nazi’s. Ha! Actually I wasn’t invited at all, I mean I declined to crash the party and interject some life into the discussion.
It is a wee bit comical how atheists so often seem to believe they’ve stumbled on some new argument against faith, some “gotcha moment” that’s going to pull the rug out from under Christianity. Sadly it works sometimes, on the lost and broken anyway.
So, long, long ago my parents asked me that very question, lying is a sin, so would you sin and lie to Nazi’s or are you going to obey your God-god and let a bunch of people die?? At the time I was so young my first thought was, what in the heck is a Nazi, followed promptly by, but we’re all liars already?
I have since learned what a Nazi is and also concluded that I called it right as a small child, we’re all liars already. As I got older, I also realized that to declare, “lying is a sin,” without a law giver or a standard or some kind of Moral Authority who is going to complain about it, is downright silly. In a godless world, what in the heck is wrong with lying? Also, in a godless world why would I risk my life trying to lie to Nazis in the first place?
Let me pause and pour a heap of grace and forgiveness on my parents. They were something else with their atheism, Marxism, and complete insensitivity towards the needs of their children, however, I was an odd duck myself, a special child, a precocious one to say the least. While many kids at that age are asking if Santa is real, I was trying to reconcile the goodness of God with the fact that I had been totally abandoned on a penal colony planet full of stupid people. Did God hate me or was He just mean? Whatever I may have done to tick Him off, I had no memory of it, so if that were true, than He was unjust, unfair. Or best case scenario, terribly incompetent.
With all good humor here, this lying to the Nazi’s question is way beneath my intelligence and way beneath God’s grace, too. He knows me very well and I’m fairly sure His primary concern is not, oh yeah, and she totally lies to Nazis, too!
Ironically my atheist parents were strongly opposed to lying, the problem being their definition of lying was very subjective and convenient. What was a lie? Well, the Bible of course, movies, any work of fiction or literary novels, miracles, people’s feelings, and hope. Yep, hope. They tried to debunk hope every chance they got. That was really ugly. Nihilism is not a good thing and as a life ideology, it really bites.
If you are still reading, I should explain what triggered this post. I tried to get my mother to watch a movie with me, but she tends to believe movies are lying, as are works of fiction. She prefers to watch documentaries and read non fiction books, something she is quite proud of. Ha! And some of the moves and documentaries she enjoys are flat out lies, told by lying liars, but that’s a whole different discussion…
Now that I have provided all this background to help you understand where I am coming from, the Bible has offered me some beautiful insights and clarity into the nature of lying. I just love the story of Peter denying Christ, it speaks so much truth to me. It reminds me to stay humble, to remember that God knows us better than we know ourselves. Peter had no idea he would deny Christ, but Jesus knew. Jesus knew Peter better than he knew himself. That is one reason why we should be careful making vows or leaning too hard into our own self determination. We do not know what we think we know.
The other tale I love is Pilate asking, are you king of the Jews? And Jesus replies, “You say that I am a king. Instead, in fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” And Pilate responds, “what is truth?” Take note of the fact that he also says, “I find no fault in this man.”
Pilate has stumbled on the Truth, quite literally, right in front of him. Also, note that he has listened to his wife who had a dream. (I’m just tossing that in there because there are some men who seem to believe you should never take spiritual advice from your wife. Just for the record, Pilate’s wife was right. )
The best definition of truth I’ve ever heard is, “Truth is a quality intrinsic to the nature of God.” God is vast, infinite, beyond our ability to comprehend Him. So truth, rather than being narrow minded or subjective and relative, or cross referenced scientific data, is actually a quality of God’s character, along with other qualities like, faith, hope and love.
Did you know a question can be a lie? It totally can. The very question, “so would you sin and lie to Nazi’s or are you going to obey your God-god and let a bunch of people die,” is designed to make you doubt the truth of God’s character, to convince you of His hypocrisy, incompetency, deceit, etc, and to reduce and shrink sin down to a simple matter of red tape and bureaucracy. Lying than becomes, “so did you take the cookie from the cookie jar.” In truth however, lying is far more complex than a simple yes or no, or a cut and dry reporting of the facts.
Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking I am underestimating sin or excusing it or something. Nothing could be farther from the truth. One reason why I object so strongly to the wrath mongers, to those who insist we must stress God’s wrath towards sin, is because fear and control will teach you about the sin of denying you stole a cookie, but it will teach you absolutely nothing about how to escape the quagmire of worldly lies that threatens to swallow us all up in our own deceptions. Wrath as a motivator against sin is so woefully inadequate and blindingly foolish because it forces us to see the tree of sin but not the whole forest. It also creates an entire generation of young Christians, ripe for plucking up the foolishness of neo atheists and their silly Nazi debates.
Bill Johnson once said, “Any thought you have that doesn’t inspire hope is under the influence of lie.” I can testify to that. That is the truth. The number of deceptions we often live under in this world are complex, elaborate, and a bit like peeling the layers off an onion.
We people living in these days of relentless advertising, fake news, and politicized everything, really need to expand our understanding of truth, to increase the depth of our questions, to re-examine our faith, and to get to know what qualities are intrinsic to the nature of God.
If you believe He is a wrath monger gleefully waiting to pounce on you for having lied to some imaginary Nazi’s, well, then what you have is an atheist’s perception of God, a deception under the influence of a lie.