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FAQ: Is it ever okay to lie?

Didn’t Rahab lie to keep the spies alive, and didn’t God reward her for lying? 

The story of Rahab shows up in the book of Joshua. Before the Israelites entered the promised land they sent two spies into Jericho to check it out. But their cover was quickly blown and so the King of Jericho sends out men to capture the spies. The spies quickly jump into a home which is owned by a prostitute named Rahab.   The soldiers come knocking and Rahab says – they went that-a-way! She lies, the spies are saved – and later when the city falls Rahab and her family are spared because she protected the Israelite spies.

And so – the assumption here is that God blessed Rahab because she lied. Which would be a problem because the ninth commandment says do not lie.

Well, the answer is this… There is no doubt Rahab lied, but it would be wrong to say that God blessed her because she lied. God blessed her because she chose to help them – she decided how to help. Now it might sound like it’s splitting hairs – but really, to say God blessed her because she lied would be the same as saying God blessed her because she was a prostitute. No – as is the case for me and you, God blessed us in spite of our sin. And Rahab is blessed in spite of her lying.

So that’s the answer – yes it is wrong to lie. The ninth commandment forbids it.

But I think this question brings up a more important issue – and that is how we view our relationship with God. And far too many people view their relationship with God in terms of a Police officer and a speeder… a Parole Officer and Parolee… The overly rambunctious referee, the ultimate hallway monitor.

And I want us to move beyond looking at God as the legalist in the sky keeping track of our slightest infraction. This is the image that Jesus had to fight when he came to earth. He was constantly battling people who had looked at their relationship with God in terms of laws – and when you have laws then you have loopholes and technicalities. And Judaism had become the most legalistic religion in the world when Jesus showed up.

The idea of technicalities and work-arounds is really the essence of religiosity. And Jesus worked diligently to replace that image and instead talked in terms of a loving father and his beloved Children (us).

So the question is a valid question – is it ever okay to tell a lie to save someone’s life. Okay…… But the better question is what kind of person am I? Am I an honest person? Do I conduct my life with integrity?

Now at the end of the day – if you are hiding people in your home from evil people who will slaughter them if they are discovered… I hope you do everything in your power to save them! After all Jesus did everything in his power to save us.


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