“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive” (Scott, 1808).

Frankly, we are all guilty. (James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.) The question remains though: Should public officials, pastors, and ministerial staff be held to a higher standard? Is there any lie that is okay for any of these guys to tell?

Let’s take a look at a few examples…

Corrie Ten Boom tells of a family who were hiding Jews from the Nazis. The grandmother of the household was so nervous and sick with worry that she went a little crazy. When the Nazis banged on the door to search the house she acted more than a little insane. Demanding to know where the Jews were, the Nazis were disgusted when she kept saying they were under the table. There was nothing under the table that they could see so they left. Actually the trap door under the table led to the cellar where the Jews were hiding. The woman was telling the truth, but the Germans thought it was a lie from a crazy woman.

David deceived the Philistines by pretending to be crazy when he took Goliath’s sword for protection, forgetting that it was very well known to the Philistines.

Gideon deceived the Midianites into thinking there were far more than just 300 soldiers attacking their camp.

Rahab lied to the guards of Jericho saving the lives of the two spies.

Here’s a shocker: 1 Kings 7:7 For the LORD had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses—the noise of a great army; so they said to one another, "Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!"

Very interesting story!

The ninth commandment says not to bear false witness, and in 28 different versions of the Bible every single one translates it as false witness agains your neighbor or do not tell lies against your neighbor.

So, I think the answer to the question above is: No. Everyone should be held to the same standard. Frankly, why should it be all right for a lay person to gossip, but not a pastor? It is not. God declares to everyone do not bear false witness against your neighbor. That word means associate, acquaintance, friend, or general person you meet on the street. That’s how Jesus defined it in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

What David did and what Gideon did are very similar to what God did to the Syrian army. But what Rahab did is a bit different. She told a lie against the two spies, but it was to preserve their lives, so was it then lying for the two spies? Did she do this with God’s blessing? Would God have intervened if she had told the guards where the spies were hiding? Was her lie a God-thing? Is it okay to deceive in order to save another person’s life?

Bearing false witness has a huge implication of a courtroom scene. “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?”

Is there a difference between lying and bearing false witness? Why?