Does God Permit Lying?
[Debater], you brought up that verse again, even though it was refuted before in Taqiyya. What this tells me is that you did not read my previous reply or that you simply want to demonize Quran and that whatever explanation is provided is out of mind after reading – reading to not understand. The verse is
YUSUFALI: Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith – but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty. (16:106)
Well here I will show you taqqiyya from the bible. Hope this time you will read with understanding. Bible says lying is a sin, Quran says the same. No arguments there. So lying is a sin, its wrong but let me ask you – what is a lie exactly?
According to webster’s dictionary:
A falsehood uttered or acted for the purpose of deception; an intentional violation of truth; an untruth spoken with the intention to deceive. (Webster Dictionary)
This dictionary definition. What is biblical definition or even from Quran for that matter? Bible would not completely agree to that definition. Yes, statement which is not true and with intent to deceive is a lie. But is a statement made to create misleading impression also a lie? According to the Bible, I would think not. Bible says in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie” (Is God Deceptive?)
Let’s look at 1 Samuel 16. Here is a Prophet who was told by the Lord to remove the tyrant king of Israel in Bethlehem. King Saul was someone who would kill to protect his position so Samuel was concerned on carrying out his duty. To put him at ease, the Lord planned/schemed and told Samuel to take an animal with him on his journey to Bethlehem. The intention was to make it seem like he is going to sacrifice the animal. When he reaches his destination, Samuel lies to the elder that he came in peace to sacrifice to the Lord. Did Samuel, the Prophet, tell the truth? Who instructs him to lie? The Lord himself. Samuel’s intention was not to hurt anyone, on the contrary he wanted to protect himself and the people with him. Samuel thus lied on instruction from god. Dictionary says a lie is an intention to deceive but not so according to the Bible.We learn from this that creating a misleading impression is not necessarily a lie. Can God lie? (Hebrews 6:18) We are told in the Bible that God cannot lie but here in the Bible we see God schemes. So biblically, we can say that deceiving with the intention of general good cannot be a lie.
Lets look at another example where the Lord schemes. In Titus 1:2, Lord instructs Joshua to make a “deceptive” ambush from behind the city of Ai. How is it deceptive? Joshua commands his chosen mighty men to lie in ambush BEHIND the city while he and his men approach the city from the front. When the King’s men go after the them, the strong men who are behind the city, should set fire to the city. This is the plan of the Lord.
Since God cannot lie and yet can scheme with deception, can we say that either god lied or that God cannot lie or that deception is not always construed as a lie? Or the Lord is not God since God not cannot lie?
Another Biblical “deception” – the story of Sarah and Abraham. Abraham lied to the king of Egypt, about Sarah being his wife. Abraham, technically did not lie because Sarah was in fact his sister (Genesis 20:1-12) but when he did lie, it was only to protect her and vice versa. They did not lie but they did not tell the whole truth which is deceptive and misleading. Abimelech, the tyrant ruler, accepted their story but not before he felt cheated for them not telling him the whole truth. He did not punish them. Abraham did not repent to him but the king repented for trying to take Sarah. Moreover, the king allowed/rewarded Abraham to reside in any place in the town in security. So the result of that lie was not condemned by the Lord but Abraham was rewarded instead. The ending of the story played out well. The king learnt his lesson, Sarah was returned to Abraham who prays for the king.
We read in the Bible, Isaac did the same thing with Rebacca in Gensis 26:7). Abraham and Isaac were prophets and their descendants were blessed. God did not think much of their lies.
Let’s not forget the story of Rahab, the harlot, who lied to save the lives of the spies from the King of Jericho, in exchange for her own protection. (Joshua 2:3-7) The Bible never condemned her for lying, instead she was praised for her faith. Moreover she was in the genealogy of the Lord himself in the Bible, (Mathew 1:5), and remembered as being faithful (Hebrew 11:31).
Do these stories mean that it is right to lie? It’s never okay to lie. Lying leads to more lies. But from these episodes from the Bible, we need to differentiate the dictionary definition of a lie and the biblical definition. You see, in the Bible, those deceptions were “for the good”; you can say it was lesser of the evil.When God Himself instructs ‘deceptive plans’ and God cannot tell a lie, then we mortals can only follow the reason, the intention, the background of how, why and when we can plan/scheme.
We live in a world where any biblical laws can sometimes run into conflicts. For example what do we do with “though shall not kill” in a war situation? In the case of deception, inevitably and instinctively we tend to lie even with guilt. It comes out from the feeling that we would be held responsible should anything go wrong. For example, you happen to come face to face with a knife wielding criminal looking for his victim. He asks you, if you have seen him, which way did he go and you instinctively lie in order to protect the victim. Is this termed as a sin? Some would say that its taking the lesser evil in order to protect a life. Lying against preserving life. Although it would be wrong to lie, it would be worse to not save a life. From the biblical examples above, we can conclude that lying for the greater good would not be sinful. If it is sinful, then it implies that Jesus sinned while living on earth. But Bible teaches us that Jesus is sinless. Is there a conflict or can we conclude that Jesus chose the lesser of the evil and that does not count as sin?
In all these stories, we learn that God did NOT punish lying when it was about saving lives from those who want to do evil. These lies were for the general good. Bible, however, condemns schemes and lies which destroy the poor and innocent or lies said for profit or to gain power. “Also the schemes of the schemer are evil; he devises wicked plans to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaks justice. It is often the most religious and pious people that will lie” (Isaiah 32:7)
One of the commandment states not to bear false witness (Exodus 20:16, Deut 19:16). If we look carefully at this command, we realize that it does not say “do not lie” – a direct statement. Instead, it says not to bear false witnesses which is a form of lying; bringing false accusation is an insult to the justice of God. However we find many of were false witnesses in Jesus’ trial (Mark 14:56).
Didn’t the Germans lie to the soldiers about hiding the Jews in their homes? Again, from the Bible, didn’t the midwives lie to the Pharaoh about not killing the babies (Exodus 2:19)? God, instead of being angry with them, He blessed them (Exodus 2:21).
Bible is totally against lying but not against those lies that help the to destroy the evil. Lying with evil intent is forbidden and Bible speaks against this in various verses. For example Proverbs 6:16-19, Revelation 21:8. Bible clearly condemns lies of bearing false witnesses, being dishonest for profiting or gaining power and spreading false teachings which would lead people away from Jesus.
In the same light, when the Quran says:
Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith – but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty. (16:106)
Is there any evil deceit in this verse? Or is it protecting a life and taking the lesser evil just as the Lord did? Obviously, it is to save lives and God is not against that in the Bible and in the Quran. It is a matter of taking the higher moral good route which outweighs the worse of doing something more evil. In 2 Thessalonians 2:11, God “sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie”, all for the greater good.
I hope this answers your question.