There are those who hold that it is never permissible for a Christian to state what is false, even to save a life. The classic example of that is Jeanie Deans in The Heart of Midlothian. Effie Deans was on trial for her life, charged with the murder of her infant. The sister Jeanie was put on the stand. A single word, "No," in answer to the question of the attorney for the defense, would have saved the life of her sister. But Jeanie Deans would not lie. She said "Yes," and her sister was condemned to death.
It was not for lack of love for her sister that Jeanie Deans refused to lie; for after her sister had been sentenced to be hanged, Jeanie walked all the way to London to petition the king for a pardon, which was granted. Jeanie Deans is said to have had a counterpart in real life, a woman named Helen Walker, to whose memory Scott erected a monument with this inscription: "This stone was erected by the author of Waverly to the memory of Helen Walker, who died in the year of God, 1791. This humble individual practiced in real life the virtues with which fiction has in vested the imaginary character of Jeanie Deans, refusing the slightest departure from veracity, even to save the life of a sister."
Dare to be true: nothing can need a lie:
A fault, which needs it most, grows two thereby.—Herbert
A little girl once said to her mother, "I've been thinking that it's worse to lie than to steal." "Why?" said her mother. "Well, you see," said the child, "if you steal anything, when you are sorry for it, you can give it, or the price of it, back. But, if it's a lie, it is gone forever."—Selected
The Tampa Tribune, June 1, 1962, reports this from Burlington, Wisconsin: That collection of preposterous prevaricators, the Burlington Liars' Club, has come up with its annual crop of whoppers. They're slyly calculated to bring chuckles—or groans.
C. R. Hutcheson, an imaginative raconteur from Lubbock, Texas, was acclaimed as the winner of the 1961 contest. His tale; "For years, I have been working to perfect a duck call. Satisfied with my laboratory tests, I recently decided to give it a field try. The first time I blew the call, ducks swarmed in from all directions; the sky was black with them. I cut loose with my pump gun and with six shots killed my limit of six ducks.
"What is so strange about that, you say? Well, when I picked up those ducks, I found that three of them were decoys!"
If you fielded that one, try this one from Leo Dobratz of San Jose, California. It won an honorable mention.
"We've had a lot of trouble with birds stealing our fruit so we took tin cans and tied them to the tree limbs. The reflection off the lids, swinging in the breeze, not only frightened the birds and saved our fruit—it frightened them so badly they're bringing back the fruit they stole last year."
Mrs. James Griffin of Red Wing, Minn, entered a fib: "The water in the river near my home was so low last summer that it only ran every other day."
And R. K. Burlin of Chatham, Mass., wrote that he had an uncle "who drank so much liquor that his shadow had the hiccoughs."
Still with us? Harry I. Shapeero of Seattle, Wash., sadly concludes that even the dealings of labor and management aren't sacred any more. His contribution: "A crew of fence builders were laid off last weekend because of a shortage of material. But they finished the job this week, in spite of the shortage. They went on strike so they could picket the fence!"
But these preposterous prevaricators do not do as much hurt as those who forget what God says about lying and liars:
Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight (Proverbs 12:22).
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).
When men are deliberate liars, they prove their kinship to the devil, for Jesus said: "The devil ... he is a Har, and the father of it" (John 8:44).
'Tis sad but true what Shakespeare wrote: "Lord, Lord, how this world is given to lying."
The juryman petitioned the court to be excused, declaring:
"I owe a man twenty-five dollars that I borrowed, and as he is leaving town to-day for some years I want to catch him before he gets to the train and pay him the money."
"You are excused," the judge announced in a very cold voice. "I don't want anybody on the jury who can lie like you."
The tender young mother detected her baby boy in a deliberate lie. With tears in her eyes, and a catch in her voice, she sought to impress upon him the enormity of his offense.
"Do you know," she questioned severely, "what happens to little boys who tell falsehoods?"
The culprit shook his head in great distress, and the mother explained carefully:
"Why, a great big black man, with horns on his head and one eye in the center of his forehead, comes along and grabs the little boy who has told a falsehood, and flies with him up to the moon, and keeps him there sifting ashes all the rest of his life. You won't ever tell another falsehood, will you, darling? It's wicked!"
Mother's baby boy regarded the speaker with round-eyed admiration.
"Oh, ma," he gurgled, "what a whopper!"