One of the Ten Commandments in every version of the Ten Commandments is "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness."
I grew up understanding this to mean, roughly, "Thou Shalt Not Lie," which I'm sure many people grew up understanding this to mean.
Today, while studying for national security law, my friend and I took a break and had a discussion on what exactly this means. It seems that "Thou Shalt Not Lie" is a little too simplistic. If nothing else, the bible itself demonstrates that Lying is not something absolutely condemned by God.
If one reads the story of Rahab, a harlot in Jericho, you will find that she lied to the Gentiles to protect the jewish spies who took refuge in her home. She told the Gentiles who were searching for the jews that 1. two men came to her house, but she did not know if they were jewish. This may or may not be the truth, historically. The version I read is mum on the spies identifying themselves as Jews, though they did say that God would save her house. The second line, though, when she said that the men had left and went off in some direction, urging the mob by saying they were moving slowly, and the Gentiles could catch them. This was certainly a lie, as she had hid the two men in her roof.
As retribution for the harlot lying, God spared her house when the walls of Jericho came a'tumblin' down.
So the question I have, essentially, is, what does it mean to not bear false witness, if it doesn't mean "Don't lie?" Or, is this an ethically fuzzy subject, where, as so many people approach it, it's sometimes necessary or excuseable to lie? In the case of Rahab, she lied in the name of God - is that justifiable? Can you expand that to other deific theories, such as Allah?
I'd like to hear your input. I'm going to keep studying, and probably won't consider this again until Saturday afternoon, or so.