Friday, February 18, 2011
Can lying for a good purpose be justified? Hard choices
Lately the question has been raised among theologians whether it was moral for Lila Rose to go into Planned Parenthood clinics, posing as a under-aged "lady of the night" working for her p/imp in order to video employees of Planned Parenthood, supporting this type of lifestyle with birth control and abortion.
Sadly whereas the murder of millions of babies hardly raises an eyebrow anymore, the exploitation of children for se/xual purposes is considered intrinsically wrong in all circles, pro choice as well as pro life. And so Lila Rose's videos have raised public awareness of the possibility of Planned Parenthood not being a 'good for society' group. (Abby Johnson's book, UNPLANNED also has raised a lot of awareness).
However, that some good might come from LiveAction's campaign, only confirms that God can work good out of anything but does not in itself, argue for the morality of the idea of -what some are calling - "lying for Jesus".
Mark Shea brings out in his excellent blogs, "Dawn Eden is right..." and "Last Comment about Lying for Jesus" that the Catholic Catechism states that lying is always "intrinsically evil", among many other excellent points.
The American Catholic had an article by Joe Hargrave entitled "My Problem with Lila Rose" which is worth reading. He questions whether the entrapment of a couple of Planned Parenthood employees agreeing with potential customers is really proof of Planned Parenthood supporting exploitation of children.
The questions raised by these articles have been mine from the beginning. St Ignatius Loyola in his "Spiritual Exercises" states that no ends, regardless of how meritorious, justify immoral means.
Would God really require us to be immoral, even for a "good purpose"? I would say, "NO". And the fact that those videos are of questionable morality for Christians, puts the pro life movement in a shaky position. It is true, for example, that the demise of George Tiller meant a lot less full term or almost full term babies murdered but does anyone sanction that? Murder is prohibited in the Ten Commandments but so is lying. Sticking to our Christian morality sometimes presents us with very hard choices but as believers, we have to believe that Christian morality will always work out the best, regardless of less moral methodology seeming to be appropriate at times.
For example, is the classic "white lie" really appropriate...that is, is it right for husband to answer his somewhat chubby wife's question about her looking fat in a certain outfit with a lie? Or is there another way? For example, would it not be better, rather than lying about something she can see about herself, to say as my husband said when I was clinically obese - "You always look good to me regardless of what size you are!" Which ended up making me feel a lot better than a lie would have done. (Now that I am no longer clinically obese, he STILL says in answer to my comment about looking fat in a photo, with "You look good to me, now as you did, THEN!".
No one is judging any individuals here. The Mercy of God always is at work and none of us are totally right, no matter how hard we try to be. But I think Christians and pro lifers would hold a stronger position simply in combating evil with truth.
For example, I found it very effective to stand outside of a High school and hand out "informed consent" booklets about abortion. Students seeing medical information would ask "are you for or against abortion?" And evading the question (this is called "reservation" and not a sin), I would say "I am just providing the medical information to help folks make the decision which would work the best for them." Most of them took my informed consent information which in itself, will talk many out of choosing abortion. I have literally stopped ladies from going into Planned Parenthood by asking them "Did you know that abortion greatly raises the risk for breast cancer?" (this is supported in 38 worldwide studies including the clinical studies of pro choice scientist, Janet Daling).
I think ... no, rather, I feel confident, we can stop the murder of millions of babies by simply providing the public with the medical truth about the abortion procedure without wandering into morally questionable areas.