When is Lying Ok?

Shannon Hill

Lying is a very debated topic all over the world. “Is lying okay?” or “When is lying okay?” is a common question among many people. According to the article “It’s the Truth: Americans Conflicted About Lying” from NBCNEWS.com, half of Americans answer to the age-old question “Is lying okay?” is that lying is in fact never okay (2). Yet, in the same poll, two-thirds said lying was sometimes justified (It’s the Truth, 2). Lying is only acceptable when you’re protecting someone from danger. Otherwise, you can hurt yourself and others around you, but you can also lie to save a person’s life.

As stated, lying can hurt yourself. In interview “Brad Blanton: Honestly, Tell the Truth” by Barbara Ballinger, Blanton reveals that lying “keeps you locked in a jail of your own mind” and makes things more difficult for yourself (5). When you lie, you have to keep track of everything you have said, who you said it to, remember what their reaction was, and make sure what you say from thereon doesn’t contradict what you’ve said before (Blanton, 5). Being untruthful is complicated, takes up time and energy, and is just plain hard (Blanton, 5). Being honest when you can is simply easier and you’d be doing a favor to yourself.

Lying can also hurt those around you. In the previously stated interview, Blanton discusses how common lying is in all aspects of people’s lives and that it is actually very stressful and hurts relationships (5). If someone finds out that you have lied or have been lying to them, you could lose their trust in you . As Randy Cohen states in the article “It’s the Truth: Americans Conflicted About Lying,” every dishonest moment can cause others to view you as less credible and that “Once a person finds out you lied, you lose currency in their eyes” (It’s the Truth, 3). You could ultimately end up hurting the person more than you intended to. For most people, there are not very many times when you seriously want to hurt someone; it’s rare that oneself hurts someone and feels good about it afterwards. Limiting your lying to only when you are protecting someone from danger gets rid of some of the possible ways you could hurt a loved one.

Even though lying causes complications, it could also possibly save someone’s life. Lying to save your own or another’s life may be the only situation where lying could contain a greater consequence than being honest, but it is also the only time that lying is acceptable. Blanton gives the example that the people who were hiding Anne Frank from the Nnazi’s lied by omission, or lied by not acknowledging the fact that they were hiding someone (5). Since they were saving her life, lying to do so was justified. In this case, being dishonest was the lesser of two evils, as letting or being the cause of death is a worse iniquity. 

Another perspective on lying is that it is sometimes or even always completely justifiable. Many people say that little white lies to protect one’s feelings are unharmful and even necessary to life. This point of view fails to consider that if you lie all the time, you eventually build relationships that are based on lies, essentially creating fake relationships. Many teens that gave their input to the article “Teens Do their Share of Lying” by Lorretta Ragsdell say that they lie on an “as needed basis” and so they don’t get in trouble from their parents (7). However, if you lie to your parents about a grade or a detention you got, they could find out later on and you could get a greater consequence.

Untruthfulness is very present in our lives and does more bad than good. Being dishonest is only okay when someone is being protected from danger. Lying can save someone’s life, but otherwise it causes harm to you and the people around you.


Works Cited


Ballinger, Barbara. “Brad Blanton: Honestly, Tell the Truth.” RealtorMag. May 2010. CSU Expository Reading and Writing Modules. Nov. 2019. <https://classroom.google.com/c/NDEyMTI2NjU0NjRa/m/NDY5NzA4OTU4MDda/details>


“It’s the Truth: American’s Conflicted About Lying.” NBCNEWS. 11 Jan. 2006. CSU Expository Reading and Writing Modules. Nov. 2019. <https://classroom.google.com/c/NDEyMTI2NjU0NjRa/m/NDY5NzA4OTU4MDda/details>


Ragsdell, Loretta. “Teens Do their Share of Lying.” Austin Weekly News. 25 March 2009. CSU Expository Reading and Writing Modules. Nov. 2019. <https://classroom.google.com/c/NDEyMTI2NjU0NjRa/m/NDY5NzA4OTU4MDda/details>