A Shrink Thinks

Truth and Lies (Part Two)

Truth and Lies (Part Two)
Alan Thomas
Alan Thomas Professor and Consultant in Psychiatry. Elder at Newcastle Reformed Evangelical Church.
22 June, 2023 4 min read

In Part 1 we considered the importance of truth – since God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are truth. Satan, by contrast, is the father of lies and one in whom there is no truth. From the garden of Eden to the end of this age, he operates by using lies and deceit to draw us into deeper and deeper sins. We are to imitate God by being truthful, and we are to avoid the snare of the evil one who aims to entice us into his own lifestyle of lies and deceit.

We also considered that we can fall short of truthfulness by our human errors and by our lack of faithfulness. That is, we are not truthful as God is when we speak honestly but are mistaken or speak honestly about a future commitment but then fail to honour it. Such failings occur for many reasons, and should not be thought of as lies. Why not? Because central to the lie is evil intent. What marks out lies and deceit from both truthfulness and these other aspects of our human fallibility is intention.

Intentionality is too often overlooked when considering the morality of our behaviour. In an earlier article on euthanasia, I reflected on the importance of intention in distinguishing, when prescribing medication, between inadvertent harm and death and the intentional killing of euthanasia. We identified the biblical basis for this doctrine of double-effect: when prescribing medication such as painkillers, you can do so intending to kill in euthanasia or intending to heal.

Truth and Lies (Part One)
Can lies sometimes be acceptable? Are there situations when lying can be the right thing to do? After all, there seem to be occasions in the Bible when people who seem to be lying also seem to be commended by God. The Hebrew midwives in Exodus 2 and Rahab in Joshua 2 are perhaps the most well-known…
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