When lying is justified

The intuition people have is that lying is wrong, or witholding information can always be bad. Kant certainly believed that, do I? I’m not sure. Let me tell you a story…

I remember when I was in the seminary, the priests would wake us up in the dormitories during the morning, and Father Thomas burst into my room, and would say to me very firmly, ‘you are going to be late for your prayers and morning study; it is 8am, you need to get up or else you will be late!’.

I felt a sudden rush, a shock, I needed to wake up, and fast. Forgetting about everything of my night-time dreams and morning (wood) thoughts, I got ready and hurredly, and formed the belief inside me that I must never be late, and I must always be dedicated to my duties. As I got ready, dressed up and was ready to go to the common room; I realised it wasn’t 8am at all, or 8:10, or 8:15. It was 6:30am. Father Thomas lied to me, and in doing so, he implanted beliefs that I myself made in my seemingly made mistake of waking up late.

By lying, Father Thomas taught me about what it is to be a man; we must care for others, and make other people better because we care for them. Father Thomas was that kind of man, and he tried to make me such a man too…

I love what Father Thomas did to me, I understand now, after many years, that only now, his strictness, his seemingly present hatred for me, was only a pretense to make me a better man. I wonder what Father T will think of me now, hiding behind Michael through this false name, using him as the mouthpiece of our issues, our interests, our expressions. Will Father T think that I am manipulating/abusing/dominating him? Or will he understand why I must lie, and why I must hide.

Thank you, Father; and forgive me, for I have sinned.



One thought on “When lying is justified

  1. I think the ethical of lying is completely dependant on the context of the situation.

    Or, to put it another way, maybe because Father Thomas was not intending to deceive you (i.e. deception was not his end), but to use deception as a means to make you a better person. So maybe we could say he wasn’t lying to you per se, but teaching you…?

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