As Above So Below Universal Creator Lie Never Justifiable

Lie Never Justifiable

Lie Never Justifiable
Catalog # SKU1075
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name H. Clay Trumbell


A Lie
Never Justifiable

A Study In Ethics

H. Clay Trumbull


Whether a lie is ever justifiable, is a question that has been in discussion, not only in all the Christian centuries, but ever since questions concerning human conduct were first a possibility. On the one hand, it has been claimed that a lie is by its very nature irreconcilable with the eternal principles of justice and right; and, on the other hand, it has been asserted that great emergencies may necessitate a departure from all ordinary rules of human conduct, and that therefore there may be, in an emergency, such a thing as the "lie of necessity."


My friend asked me whether I would hesitate to kill an enemy who was on guard over me, or whom I met outside, if it were essential to our escape. I replied that I would not hesitate to do so, any more than I would hesitate at it if we were over against each other in battle. In time of war the soldiers of both sides take the risks of a life-and-death struggle; and now that we were unparoled prisoners it was our duty to escape if we could do so, even at the risk of our lives or of the lives of our captors, and it was their duty to prevent our escape at a similar risk.

My friend then asked me on what principle I could justify the taking of a man's life as an enemy, and yet not feel justified in telling him a lie in order to save his life and secure our liberty. How could it be claimed that it was more of a sin to tell a lie to a man who had forfeited his social rights, than to kill him. I confessed that I could not at that time see the reason for the distinction, which my moral sense assured me was a real one, and I asked time to think of it. Thus it was that I came first to face a question of the ages, Is a lie ever justifiable? under circumstances that involved more than life to me, and when I had a strong inducement to see the force of reasons in favor of a "lie of necessity."

In my careful study, at that time, of the principles involved in this question, I came upon what seemed to me the conclusion of the whole matter. God is the author of life. He who gives life has the right to take it again. What God can do by himself, God can authorize another to do. Human governments derive their just powers from God. The powers that be are ordained of God. A human government acts for God in the administering of justice, even to the extent of taking life. If a war waged by a human government be righteous, the officers of that government take life, in the prosecution of the war, as God's agents. In the case then in question, we who were in prison as Federal officers were representatives of our government, and would be justified in taking the lives of enemies of our government who hindered us as God's agents in the doing of our duty to God and to our government. On the other hand, God, who can justly take life, cannot lie.

A lie is contrary to the very nature of God. "It is impossible for God to lie." And if God cannot lie, God cannot authorize another to lie. What is unjustifiable in God's sight, is without a possibility of justification in the universe. No personal or social emergency can justify a lie, whatever may be its apparent gain, or whatever harm may seem to be involved in a refusal to speak it.

Therefore we who were Federal prisoners in war-time could not be justified in doing what was a sin 'per se', and what God was by his very nature debarred from authorizing or approving. I could see no way of evading this conclusion, and I determinedly refused to seek release from imprisonment at the cost of a sin against God.

Softcover, 5 x 8, 130+ pages


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