Much conversation has ensued in the blogoshere about whether Lila Rose sins by presenting a persona other than her own to Planned Parenthood clinics in her "sting operations." Through her actions much truth comes out, but that does not necessarily legitimize the way in which comes out.
There was a long thread here of responses to an initial article by Dawn Eden and William Doino Jr. Eden and Doino take the clear position that lying is always wrong, intrinsically. Mark Shea concurs.
When something is intrinsically evil it cannot be condoned even if it seems to bring about good. Is this the case with Lila Rose's "stings"? Are they evil?
Firstly, I wonder about the the drama of it all, the playacting that Lila and her crew do. They pretend to be persons they are not, dressing and talking like a whore and her pimp, or dressing and talking like a troubled 14-year old who is being abused by a 30-year old man. They are playing the role that a real whore and a real pimp, or a real teenager would also play (albeit not before a camera at least no voluntarily), that is, they are representing something that really does exist, something that is neither phantom nor make-believe. They know this, and they also know that when the sting is over they will take off their masks and make-up and return to their lives. When the sting is over the deception ends, the purpose is not deception, but rather the opposite! And this purpose is not thwarted.
Secondly, one must ask: When does the practice of deception become sinful? Is all deception sinful? In war time don't submarines hide under the water? In police work don't undercover agents pose as non-policemen? When Corrie Ten Boom hid Jews wasn't she being, in a certain sense, deceitful, right from the get-go, long before anyone interrogated her? She pretended to the Germans to not be hiding Jews. The very act of hiding carries with it the will to deceive. Is it the speaking the deception make it sinful? Is that the test, when it is spoken?
What about a Joseph who hides his identity from his brothers as well as his ability to both speak and understand their language. This is intrinsically evil? What about Rahab, the harlot in Joshua 2 who hides Jewish spies, lies to the authorities about it, and earns a place in the bible hall of fame in Hebrews 11 for doing so. Augustine claims Rahab was wrong to lie but that she did not know better because she was a Pagan, not a Jew and did not know the 10 commandments. That seems weak to me, especially given her reward in the New Testament. Furthermore, the the law forbidding lying certainly belongs to the category of "natural"--things we can't not know, laws that don't require revelation for us to be bound by them. In other words even Pagans know it is wrong to lie--and so do Hindus and Buddhists. The golden rule (I won't lie to you because I don't want you to lie to me) does not require any "thus says the Lord;" it is written in the human heart.
Was Strider sinful in hiding his identity from the Hobbits at Bree? Were the twin boys Cor and Corin in C.S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy sinning for masquerading for a good part of the story? All of the great stories of heroes masking their true identity now need to be banned?
When Jesus tells us to hide the fact that we are subjecting ourselves to the rigors of fasting by oiling our hair and washing our face, is he asking us to do something sinful? When the Christians let Paul escape down the walls of Damascus they did so at night, very much hiding their actions from the eye of the authorities. Isn't that deceptive? Does one really think they were obliged, if asked, to tell the authorities which direction he went? Or . . . they needed to have command of verbal trickery to tell a truth that does not help the authorities find him? Really? Where does this end?
To me it appears that lying to protect the life of the innocent, far from being sinful, can even be
When it comes to "sting operation" journalism such as Lila Rose's I am not at all convinced that
it is intrinsically evil. The attempts to do end up like those defending absolute pacifism. They do not work.
Tom in Ohio