Is there any permissible sin?
‘Lying Is Not Permissible Under Any Circumstance And You Can See That Some People Are Facing The Code Of Conduct Tribunal As A Result Of Falsehood’
In many faiths, there is no small sin because a sin is a sin. However, it is believed among people, that there are ‘serious’ sins will land the sinner in hell, as against minor sins that can be discountenanced and easily forgiven. So, people often indulge in these sins, which they consider ‘permissible,’ hoping they can somehow get away with them. For instance, many people tell lies because they feel lying is not such a serious sin. Hence people talk of ‘white lies,’ which are ‘harmless’ and often told to avoid hurting others’ feelings. People tell lies for different reasons, which determine the classification and culpability. The Bible tells of a time, when Abraham had to tell a ‘white lie’ because he was afraid of king Abimelech of Gerar. There are other such cases in the Bible. Here in Nigeria, some ministers of God are fond of instructing their Personal Assistants to tell unwanted visitors that they are not available, when in reality they are in their office or in the church premises. Is this lie permissible? But for those faithful who seriously want to make Heaven, should there be any such thing as permissible sins? Should telling lies to save one’s skin or avert dangers for others be labelled as ‘sin?’ CHRIS IREKAMBA (Lagos), NKECHI ONYEDIKA-UGOEZE (Abuja) and ANN GODWIN (Port Harcourt), report.
‘Abraham Lied Because He Wanted To Defend Himself From Being Assassinated’
(His Eminence Dr. Samuel ‘Emeka Kanu Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN)
EVERY sin is sin, but the thing is that every sin is pardonable before God. Jesus said that those who tell lies are children of the devil and of course, we know that the devil was a liar from the beginning; so all those who are engaged in falsehood are children of the devil. Nobody wants to be a child of the devil.
In the case of Abraham the question is: was he permitted? You know the king that slept with Abraham’s wife was afflicted through the night and that was why he said: ‘Abraham, why did you tell me that this woman was your sister, whereas the woman is your wife?’ The consequence of sin is punishment and death. Abraham is human, which was why he engaged in falsehood. There is no human being that is perfect. Abraham was using it as a defensive mechanism, to defend himself from being assassinated by the king because the Bible says that the wife was so beautiful. Nonetheless it was sin, but there is no sin that is unpardonable by God. What God demands from us is genuine repentance after which we don’t return to those sins.
Lying is not permissible under any circumstance and you can see that some people are facing the Code of Conduct Tribunal as a result of falsehood. If someone says this is what I have and it is authenticated, there is no need to fear. You should be bold to say this is what I have and you maintain your stand.
Those ministers of God that instruct their secretaries or personal assistants to tell visitors that they are not around or available are telling a lie.
For instance, if you come to my office and I don’t want to see you, I simply tell my secretary or personal assistant to tell the person that the prelate is busy, which is a pardonable offence. The prelate is busy, please come another day is harmless; nobody would kill me for telling you to come another day.
Lying is a sin. Look at the action of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). They sold a parcel of land and took part of the money and declared falsely and what was the consequence? They died instantly. So, God does not treat lying with levity. In Nigeria, the common lie people tell is about their age. People don’t tell their actual age and I believe that is the height of sinning.
‘Allah Did Not Permit Us To Tell Lies Except In Some Specific Cases’
(Khalifah Murtala Sulaiman Abdusalam, (Deputy Chief Imam, Mile One Diobu Central Mosque, Port Harcourt)
GENERALLY, lies are not permitted because there has never been a day Allah permitted us to tell lies or to say whatever we want through lies. Islam does not encourage lies because Allah told us in Qur’an 17 vs. 36: Do not say whatever you do not have knowledge about. The hearing and the heart will be questioned on the day of judgment, what you see is what you are going to say, what you hear is what you are going to say and what your heart tells you also. These three organs will be questioned on the Judgment Day according to Allah (Transcribed).
There are some lies that are, however, permitted. There are some specific lies that are permitted. In Islam, we have Consensus, the primary source of law and the secondary source of law, which is the abid, which is the silent approval of the Prophet Mohammed. There are some lies, according to the Islamic Source of law, that are considered as Aran, which means sin that can take one to hellfire and there are some that can be forgiven. Allah did not permit us to tell lies, but in some specific cases, which may not lead to loss of rights in terms of right to live or to slander somebody’s honour.
For instance, a couple had a quarrel in their house, but they do not want to be separated, they can tell a lie or the Imam can tell a lie to enable them continue living together, because Allah always quarrel with somebody that has divorced even though He supports divorce. So, in this case, a lie can be permitted to allow the couple live together and turn to a good life.
The Consequences are that telling lies will lead to hellfire on the Day of Judgment. Qur’an 3 vs. 61, 24 vs. 7 emphasise that Allah’s wrath will be upon the liar. The only time it is permitted to tell a lie is in the situation, when the intention is to correct something or enable people live together in peace. The great lie that Islam frowns upon is lying against Allah, which means saying what Allah did not say in the Holy Qur’an or lying against the prophet by saying what he did not say for your own gain. It is a great sin that cannot be forgiven.
‘There Is Nothing Like Permissible Sin’
(Fr. Ikokwu Onwuchekwa, Communication Director, Catholic Diocese of Port Harcourt)
THERE is no situation, when one is permitted to tell lies. A lie is a lie and a negation of the truth, no matter how we look at it. Good is good and evil is evil and the consequences of telling a lie is to tell more to defend the first lies.
Sin is sin and there can be no excuse for sinning. It’s a moral question about which many may like to debate, but logical expediency and moral soundness are not always in sync. In morality, the mere intention to deceive makes one culpable even before the act. Pragmatically, the end might be said to justify the means, but again, that’s purely utilitarian.
So, there is nothing like permissible sin. The scripture says all wrongdoing is sinful, but there are sins that are mortal. So it’s a matter of gravity. Therefore, a lie may be a lesser evil in a certain situation and on that ground be chosen by the principle of double effect: a case where you are in a fix and wrongdoing is involved, the one of lesser gravity has to be chosen inevitably. But there is no permissible sin.
‘Lying Is One Of The Signs Of Hypocrisy’
(Imam Morufu Onike Abdul-Azeez, Deputy Chief Missioner, NASFAT Headquarters)
THE Almighty Allah frowns at the act of telling lies to the extent that several verses of the Qur’an condemn the act. In particular, Qur’an 24:7 says: “And the fifth (testimony should be) the invoking of the curse of Allah on him if he be of those who tell a lie (against her). Also in Q17: 36, Man is warned against lying.
The holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) even considers lying as one of the signs of hypocrisy and a hypocrite will be in the farthest bottom of the hell fire. He also says: “You must be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise…”
However, our noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gives three instances when lying is allowed, namely: “During war, when reconciling between two people, and when a woman speaks to her husband or a man speaks to his wife.”
For example, when you are trying to settle a misunderstanding between two people and you tell one of them that the other prayed for him because you know that one of the latter’s prayer points is: “My Lord, forgive all Muslims”. Definitely, the other man is included in all Muslims.
Similarly, when a man tells his wife ‘I love you.” That love may not be as deep as the woman thinks or feels. May Allah continue to be pleased with us all. Ameen.
‘In Whatever Situation, A Christian Must Avoid Telling A Lie’
(His Grace Most Revd. (Dr.) Solomon Abimbola, Archbishop of Lagos, The First African Church Mission Incorporated, Worldwide)
HOW can somebody tell a lie and say it is permissible? That is not what the scriptures told us. The Bible says we should let our yea be our yea and our nay be nay. Whatever situation you find yourself, you must endure because the problem at that time is something that has to do with your future. So, as a Christian, you have somewhere that you are going; and so you don’t have to tell a lie because you want to get out of any situation.
Abraham knew what was going to happen to him there. He sensed that ‘if I should tell the people that the woman with me is my wife,’ they would kill him. Abraham did not do what the Bible instructed us to do in such situation. In whatever situation you find yourself as a Christian, you must stand on the truth and avoid telling a lie.
How about Jesus Christ who died for our sins? He had opportunity of avoiding the Cross but instead of looking for one excuse or the other, He told the truth and at the end of it, the scripture was fulfilled. The assignment given to Him was performed excellently. Look at it; there is nothing that we do today without His name being mentioned for the sacrifices He made on behalf of mankind. So, in whatever situation you find yourself you must be able to say the truth.
Recently, something happened. At a gathering, a minister of mine asked anybody who had never told a lie to raise his or her hand. I wanted to raise my hand, but on a second thought, I wondered whether what I was considering a lie was actually not what he was talking about. So, I cautioned myself and later I sat him down and right there he explained what he meant.
When well considered, nobody would be able to escape, nobody will be free because the scripture says: If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and there is no truth in us. We are all sinners, but God will save the soul of any sinner that repented of his sin.
Let’s assume I was going to Tinubu Square, where our headquarters office is, and on getting to Ojuelegba the person at the other end asked, ‘where are you’ and I said ‘I’m close to you’ and then there was traffic jam, which prevented me from getting to him on time, he might think I was lying or that I was still at home. There is no minor or major sin, every sin is sin, and no Christian should tell a lie once you call yourself a Christian. By this I mean real Christians, not those who just go to church because we have three types of people calling themselves Christians. But those who are real children of God will not like to tell a lie, no matter the situation.
‘People Have Grown To The Level Of Thinking That Lying Is Not Wrong, But It Is Wrong’
(Rev. Dr. Musa Asake, Secretary General, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN)
THE answer is a capital NO. Sin is a violation of that which is right. Sin is doing the wrong thing, and it is not permissible to do the wrong thing. People have grown to a level of thinking that telling a lie is not wrong, but it is wrong.
The Bible makes it very clear in the Book of James that if you keep all the laws but offend only one, you have broken all. So, there is no sin that is permissible. You discover that in some churches, they penalise those that commit fornication, adultery or embezzled money, but as for telling lies, we seem not to pay attention to that. It should equally attract punishment to show that it is wrong.
So, telling a lie is a sin like any other sin. Make no mistake about it; there is no sin that is permissible. Once you introduce the word sin, it is not permissible in the Church, in the home, workplace, community or the neighbourhood. Wrong is wrong; wrong can never be right and right can never be wrong.
One of the consequences of sin is punishment. A sin must be punished, depending on the person in question. At home, sins must be punished by parents, when committed by the children. The church leadership must ensure that sins are punished.
In the Army and indeed in every organization, they have rules that guide them such that when someone violates, it attracts punishment, which varies from one organisation to the other. The Bible makes it very clear that the soul that sins shall die. We need to pray to God to help us avoid committing sin. There is no big or small sin. May God help us to avoid doing that which is wrong, doing that which would displease our parents, and our leaders.
‘You Can Afford To Sin In Order To Save Lives’
(Most Rev. Godwin Okpala, Bishop of Nnewi, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion)
WE call it situation ethics. Sometimes people tell such a lie to avoid causing more trouble.
For instance, in the case of Abraham, he did it because he didn’t know whether the people would kill him, if they discovered that Sarah was his wife. He did it to escape even though Sarah was his wife. When you know that something would be disastrous not only to one person but to the whole community, you evade it.
They call it situation ethics, but sin is sin. However, if you are to save the masses, it is in order. For instance, if somebody ask you if this is the way to a particular place and you know that he is going there with anger and may likely kill many people if he gets there, you can tell him that it is not the way. By so doing, you have diverted his attention and as he is going towards the other direction, you can go and inform people that somebody is coming to kill you so they will be prepared to defend themselves.
In this situation, you told a lie but you know the outcome would have been more disastrous, if you had told the truth. But it is still sin to tell a lie. The Bible says that any soul that sin must die but at the same time, there is room to ask for forgiveness.
It is because I studied Situation Ethics that I brought it in, but the Bible will tell you that sin is sin. However, depending on the situation, you can afford to sin in order to save lives.
‘There Is No Sin That Is Permissible But All Sins Are Forgivable Except…’
(Rev. Levi Johnson, Assistant District Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church, Abuja East District in the Federal Capital Territory)
THERE is no sin that is permissible as long as you use the word sin. Sin means missing the mark of God’s standard. Lie is deception or misdirecting someone, falsehood is deception, and fornication is a spiritual sin. There is no sin that is permissible but all sins are forgivable except blasphemy, which is sin against the Holy Spirit. If there is genuine repentance, God can forgive the person and give him another chance.
Romans Chapter 16 made it clear that the wages of sin is death.
It may not be physical death, as it may mean spiritual death. Apart from spiritual death, the guilt and burden of sin in the Spirit is a huge one, the conscience of sin pricks the heart. If you consider the consequences, burden and guilt, you will not feel free, as it interrupts your peace, when you sin.
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