This leaves considerable latitude for the
individual Jehovah’s Witness. To be fair, and to their credit, the definition
of a lie does not permit them to lie under oath. In contrast, let’s see what scripture has to
say about lying:
16 "You shall not bear false witness
against your neighbor.
23:1 "You shall not circulate a false
report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.
16 If a false
witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17 then
both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and
the judges who serve in those days. 18 And the judges shall make careful
inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified
falsely against his brother, 19 then you shall do to him as he thought to have
done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.
3 You love evil more than good, Lying rather
than speaking righteousness.
2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of
the deceitful Have opened against me; They have spoken against me with a lying
Remove from me the way of lying, And grant me
Your law graciously. 30 I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have
laid before me.
163 I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your
16 These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven
are an abomination to Him:
17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that
shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet
that are swift in running to evil,
19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one
who sows discord among brethren.
17 He who speaks truth declares righteousness,
But a false witness, deceit.
5 A faithful witness does not lie, But a false
witness will utter lies.
5 A false witness will not go unpunished, And
he who speaks lies will not escape.
8 "How can you say, 'We are wise, And the
law of the LORD is with us'? Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works
9 The wise men are ashamed, They are dismayed
and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD; So what wisdom do
8 Owe no one anything except to love one
another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the
commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not
murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false
witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other
commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love
your neighbor as yourself."
There are many more examples. It
should be noted that the Watchtower definition of lying does not circumvent
what these scriptures say since they speak about speaking falsely, and none of
the scripture, nor are there any scriptures which endorse or speak positively
about saying something false.
In their defense, the Jehovah’s Witnesses use
the following examples from scripture, which they claim show that God endorses
lying in certain circumstances:
Rahab was a harlot who is recorded in
scripture as hiding the Israelite spies to protect them when they were scouting
out Jericho. In return for her service in protecting them, they promised Rahab
and her family safety when the Israelites attacked the city. Here is the
account from scripture:
2:1 Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men
from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, "Go, view the land, especially
Jericho." So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and
lodged there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, "Behold, men
have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the
country." 3 So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, "Bring out
the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come
to search out all the country." 4 Then the woman took the two men and hid
them. So she said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they
were from. 5 And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that
the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for
you may overtake them." 6(But she had brought them up to the roof and
hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.)
7 Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as
soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.
Since Rahab was a harlot, it
appears clear that she was not a believer at that point in time. There is reason
to believe, however that she did become a believer because she is record in
Hebrews 11 as a person of faith. She apparently did believe that it was the
right thing to do to protect rather than betray these men, and scripture does
state that in that regard she did the right thing:
31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not
believe, when she had received the spies with peace.
There is nothing that endorses
the fact that she lied, but she protected the men in the best way that she knew
how. Fortunately, even when we fail, our justification is not in our own merit,
but our justification is through Jesus who, through his sacrifice on the cross,
washes away our sins, including lying. We see other Old Testament saints, such
as David who committed murder, but yet was included amongst the men of faith in
Hebrews 11. Therefore the inclusion of Rahab as a woman of faith does not
suggest that God endorsed her sin of lying, but rather her faith in God, and in
the coming Messiah justified her in the eyes of God despite her sins.
The claim is that God honoured
and endorsed the lie that Sarai was Abram sister. Let’s look at the record from
scripture on this topic:
11 And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that
he said to Sarai his wife, "Indeed I know that you are a woman of
beautiful countenance. 12 Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you,
that they will say, 'This is his wife'; and they will kill me, but they will let
you live. 13 Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your
sake, and that I may live because of you."
14 So it was, when Abram came
into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful. 15
The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman
was taken to Pharaoh's house. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake. He had
sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and
camels. 17 But the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues
because of Sarai, Abram's wife.
First, it is important to note
that Abram lied to Pharaoh for personal protection. This was not a direction
from God, and indeed showed no faith in God’s ability to protect them from
harm, but rather he choose to take things into his own hands, something that we
see time and time again throughout scripture, and it caused problems. In this case, plagues fell upon
Pharaoh for having taken in another man’s wife and when he found out about it,
he was angry for having been deceived. Nothing in scripture endorses what Abram
did in lying to Pharaoh.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses
frequently say that Jesus did not tell the truth in John 7:
8 You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast,
for My time has not yet fully come." 9 When He had said these things to
them, He remained in Galilee.
10 But when His brothers had
gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in
The claim is that Jesus said
that he was not going but misled them and then went. But that is not what he
said. He said that he was going to the feats yet, but that they should go, and
he later followed after they had gone. He said that his time was not yet, so
the time was not right for him to leave. Later when he was ready, he did leave
for the feast. There was no deception stated or implied.
The Watchtower has redefined the
definition of a lie to allow them, under certain circumstances to mislead or
provide false information and yet feel that they are in concert with God’s
will. Nothing in scripture gives any such allowance or comforts those who give
such false testimonies.