We know lying is a sin (Leviticus 19:11; Proverbs 12:22). But what about those “little white lies” that involve an ever-so-slight stretching of the truth? Do the small lies matter, or are they harmless? What if telling the truth might hurt someone?
Lying is defined as “making an untrue statement with the intent to deceive.” A white lie is an untrue statement, but it is usually considered unimportant because it does not cover up a serious wrongdoing. A white lie is deceptive, but it may also be polite or diplomatic at the same time. It could be a “tactful” lie told to keep the peace in a relationship; it could be a “helpful” lie to ostensibly benefit someone else; it could be a “minor” lie to make oneself look better in some area.
Some white lies are common: lying about one’s age, for example, or the size of the fish that got away. We live in a society that conditions us to lie by telling us that, in many situations, lies are justified. The secretary “covers” for the boss who doesn’t want to be disturbed; the salesman exaggerates the qualities of his product; the job applicant pads his résumé. The reasoning is, as long as no one is hurt or the result is good, little lies are fine.
It is true that some sins bring about worse consequences than others. And it is true that telling a white lie will not have the same serious effect as, say, murdering someone. But all sins are equally offensive to God (Romans 6:23a), and there are good reasons to avoid telling white lies.
First, the belief that a white lie is “helpful” is rooted in the idea that the end justifies the means. If the lie results in a perceived “good,” then the lie was justified. However, God’s condemnation of lying in Proverbs 6:16–19 contains no exception clause. Also, who defines the “good” that results from the lie? A salesman telling white lies may sell his product—a “good” thing for him—but what about the customer who was taken advantage of?
Telling a white lie to be “tactful” or to spare someone’s feelings is also a foolish thing to do. A person who consistently lies to make people feel good will eventually be seen for what he is: a liar. Those who traffic in white lies will damage their credibility.
White lies have a way of propagating themselves. Telling more lies to cover up the original lie is standard procedure, and the lies get progressively less “white.” Trying to remember what lies were told to what person also complicates relationships and makes further lying even more likely.
Telling a white lie to benefit oneself is nothing but selfishness. When our words are motivated by the pride of life, we are falling into temptation (1 John 2:16).
Little white lies are often told to preserve the peace, as if telling the truth would in some way destroy peace. Yet the Bible presents truth and peace as existing together: “Love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19). Tellers of white lies believe they are speaking lies out of “love”; however, the Bible tells us to speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
Sometimes telling the truth is not easy; in fact, it can be downright unpleasant. But we are called to be truth-tellers. Being truthful is precious to God (Proverbs 12:22); it demonstrates the fear of Lord. Furthermore, to tell the truth is not a suggestion, it is a command (Psalm 15:2; Zechariah 8:16; Ephesians 4:25). Being truthful flies in the face of Satan, the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Being truthful honors the Lord, who is the “God of truth” (Psalm 31:5, ISV).
“Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.” ~ Hebrews 13:4
There is no overt mention of anal sex in the Bible. In the account of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, a large group of men sought to gang rape two angels who had taken the form of men. The reasonable presumption is that the men of Sodom wanted to have forcible anal sex with the angels. The men’s homosexual lust is obvious, but again, anal sex is not mentioned in the passage.
The words sodomy and sodomize come from this biblical account. Sodomy is, literally, “the sin of Sodom.”
In modern language, the term sodomy has acquired a broader definition than what is biblically warranted. Today, “sodomy” often refers to any form of non-penile/vaginal sexual act, which includes anal sex and oral sex. If the biblical text is used as the basis for the definition, though, “sodomy” cannot include oral sex or, technically, even anal sex. The strict understanding of sodomy, based solely on the events of Genesis 19, would have to be “forcible anal sex, with one male homosexually raping another male anally.”
The Bible clearly and explicitly condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). And the Bible strongly condemns rape, as well (Deuteronomy 22:25-27). So, clearly, the Bible condemns sodomy in the sense of male homosexual rape. The more difficult question is whether the Bible condemns all anal sex.
Ultimately, our answer is the same as our answer for “What Gods Says About Oral Sex” Outside of marriage, all forms of sex, including anal sex, are sinful and immoral. Since the Bible nowhere condemns, or even mentions, anal sex within the confines of marriage, it would appear that anal sex falls within the “mutual consent” principle (1 Corinthians 7:5). Whatever is done sexually should be fully agreed on between the husband and his wife. Neither husband nor wife should be coerced into doing something he/she is not absolutely comfortable with.
If anal sex occurs within the confines of marriage, by mutual consent, then there is no clear biblical reason for declaring it to be sin.
In summary, the word sodomy does not occur in the Bible, although it does originate from a place name in the Bible. The specific sin of Genesis 19 was forcible anal rape of a man by another man. This passage does not concern marital relations.
Anal sex between a husband and wife, within the confines of marriage, in the spirit of mutual consent, cannot be definitively categorized as a sin.
Please note – while anal sex between a husband and his wife might not be sinful, that does not mean we endorse it. In fact, it is our conviction that anal sex is physically risky, even within the confines of marriage. Medically speaking, anal sex is neither healthy nor safe. Anal sex increases the risk of tissue damage, infection, and the transmission of STDs.
“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” ~ John 7:24
Jesus’ command not to judge others could be the most widely quoted of His sayings, even though it is almost invariably quoted in complete disregard of its context. Here is Jesus’ statement: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). Many people use this verse in an attempt to silence their critics, interpreting Jesus’ meaning as “You don’t have the right to tell me I’m wrong.” Taken in isolation, Jesus’ command “Do not judge” does indeed seem to preclude all negative assessments. However, there is much more to the passage than those three words.
The Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean we cannot show discernment. Immediately after Jesus says, “Do not judge,” He says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs” (Matthew 7:6). A little later in the same sermon, He says, “Watch out for false prophets. . . . By their fruit you will recognize them” (verses 15–16).
How are we to discern who are the “dogs” and “pigs” and “false prophets” unless we have the ability to make a judgment call on doctrines and deeds? Jesus is giving us permission to tell right from wrong.
Also, the Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean all actions are equally moral or that truth is relative. The Bible clearly teaches that truth is objective, eternal, and inseparable from God’s character. Anything that contradicts the truth is a lie — but, of course, to call something a “lie” is to pass judgment. To call adultery or murder a sin is likewise to pass judgment — but it’s also to agree with God.
When Jesus said not to judge others, He did not mean that no one can identify sin for what it is, based on God’s definition of sin.
And the Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean there should be no mechanism for dealing with sin. The Bible has a whole book entitled Judges. The judges in the Old Testament were raised up by God Himself (Judges 2:18). The modern judicial system, including its judges, is a necessary part of society. In saying, “Do not judge,” Jesus was not saying, “Anything goes.”
Elsewhere, Jesus gives a direct command to judge: “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24). Here we have a clue as to the right type of judgment versus the wrong type. Taking this verse and some others, we can put together a description of the sinful type of judgment:
Superficial judgment is wrong. Passing judgment on someone based solely on appearances is sinful (John 7:24). It is foolish to jump to conclusions before investigating the facts (Proverbs 18:13). Simon the Pharisee passed judgment on a woman based on her appearance and reputation, but he could not see that the woman had been forgiven; Simon thus drew Jesus’ rebuke for his unrighteous judgment (Luke 7:36–50).
Hypocritical judgment is wrong. Jesus’ command not to judge others in Matthew 7:1 is preceded by comparisons to hypocrites (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16) and followed by a warning against hypocrisy (Matthew 7:3–5). When we point out the sin of others while we ourselves commit the same sin, we condemn ourselves (Romans 2:1).
Harsh, unforgiving judgment is wrong. We are “always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:2). It is the merciful who will be shown mercy (Matthew 5:7), and, as Jesus warned, “In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2).
Self-righteous judgment is wrong. We are called to humility, and “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6). The Pharisee in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector was confident in his own righteousness and from that proud position judged the publican; however, God sees the heart and refused to forgive the Pharisee’s sin (Luke 18:9–14).
Untrue judgment is wrong. The Bible clearly forbids bearing false witness (Proverbs 19:5). “Slander no one” (Titus 3:2).
Christians are often accused of “judging” or intolerance when they speak out against sin. But opposing sin is not wrong.
Holding aloft the standard of righteousness naturally defines unrighteousness and draws the slings and arrows of those who choose sin over godliness. John the Baptist incurred the ire of Herodias when he spoke out against her adultery with Herod (Mark 6:18–19). She eventually silenced John, but she could not silence the truth (Isaiah 40:8).
Believers are warned against judging others unfairly or unrighteously, but Jesus commends “right judgment” (John 7:24, ESV). We are to be discerning (Colossians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). We are to preach the whole counsel of God, including the Bible’s teaching on sin (Acts 20:27; 2 Timothy 4:2). We are to gently confront erring brothers or sisters in Christ (Galatians 6:1). We are to practice church discipline (Matthew 18:15–17). We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).