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Are There Exceptions to Obeying the Ten Commandments?

Updated on April 30, 2012

Can Two Wrongs Make a Right?

World War II is in full swing and you are a peace-loving German citizen in the heart of Nazi territory. The atrocities going on around you make you absolutely sick. Being a good Christian, you believe that you need to do something about this - so you start helping Jews escape from the country.

Because you live in a rural farmhouse, you go for months without any serious problems. Jews arrive at your house and you take care of them for a day or two until they head to their next destination, drawing them closer to freedom in Switzerland. But one day, trouble appears.

The Nazi's are hot on the trail of some very important Jews who have escaped from a prison camp and they are currently staying in your house. A patrol stops at your house and asks if you have seen any questionable people in the vicinity. You say "no" and they leave. After all, the people that are hiding in your house are not "questionable people". Therefore, you are able to convince yourself that you have not lied.

Later, a larger detachment of soldiers appears and they ask you if you are hiding Jews in your house. Now you are in trouble. Do you admit that there are people in your house and allow the soldiers to take them away or do you deny the fact that you are holding anyone?

If you admit to hiding the Jews, they will most likely be taken and killed. If you say you do not have any Jews in your house, you are telling a lie (which is against the Ten Commandments) and potentially placing yourself in danger if the soldiers decide to look anyway.

What do you do? Is it right to do something wrong to keep something wrong from happening?

The World at War

Is "Yes" Really the Right Answer?

Most people would be quick to state that a human life is worth for more than the "sin" of telling a single lie. If your morals are so "good" that you will allow someone else to be killed, then there is something seriously wrong with you.

But are there really only two choices?

Life often provides many choices. Too often we think in opposites.

If I tell the German soldiers the truth that there are Jews in my house, they will be taken and killed. Therefore, the opposite is to say that, if I tell the German soldiers a lie, that I am NOT hiding Jews, then the soldiers will leave and the refugees will survive. The common thought process is to automatically conclude that the opposite choice is the ONLY other choice, when in fact, it usually is not.

Is it ever right to do wrong?

See results

Saving Lives Without Lying

Although you have very likely heard the above mentioned scenario many times, here is a twist on it that you have quite likely never heard before.

During World War II, there was an elderly lady who believed what the Germans were doing was completely against God, completely against the Bible, and completely wrong. Therefore, when opportunities to hide Jews and others hunted by the Nazis presented themselves, this woman would help out. She would hide people in her house, feed them, clothe them, and send them on their way towards freedom.

Throughout all of her actions, this woman was very nervous - not because she was afraid of getting caught, but because she believed that she could not lie. No matter what. She never wanted to give up those she was hiding, but lying was NOT an option.

Therefore, she prayed that God would prevent her from ever having to tell a lie. And an amazing thing happened - the soldiers would walk right past her house!

Time and time again, patrols would come through and knock on other doors on her street, but not on hers. This woman began to think that God had blessed her for her faithfulness. Because she said that she could not lie, God was preventing the soldiers from knocking on her door!

Unfortunately, one day she heard a knock on her door. And at this very moment she had Jews hiding in a make-shift "basement" in her house.

She answered the door to see several stern looking soldiers glaring past her and into her home.

"Are you hiding any Jews in here?" They asked forcefully.

The woman said a quick prayer for inspiration and responded with the next thought that came to mind, "As soldiers of the Third Reich you have the freedom to search my home if you desire to. I cannot stop you."

The soldiers pushed past her and began barging into rooms and closets, looking for stowaways. After spending a good amount of time scouring her abode, they wished her a good day and left. They never found the entrance to where she was hiding the Jews. And, she never had to tell a lie.

Can Evil Fight Evil?

One of the greatest challenges of Christianity is living with the concept that, not only is evil bad, but fighting evil with evil is equally wrong. If someone makes a cruel statement towards God, my natural instinct is, not only to disagree, but to fight to win. When someone makes a rash statement towards me God, I feel as if I am needed to fight for him - regardless the cost it may have on the other person's view of the goodness of God.

This should not be.

Are there times when it is necessary to do wrong to fight wrong? I believe the answer to this is "no".

But there are times when people are blatantly evil! They cannot be stopped unless force is used... What does one do then?

I believe one must remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:26, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible". If God is big enough to create humanity in the first place, don't you think he can defend himself?

Does God prefer our hearts, or our swords? The way each person answers this questions has the ability to change the world.

What are your views? Tell us in the comments below.


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    • ShalahChayilJOY profile image

      Shalah Chayil 5 years ago from Billings, Montana

      Love our miracle working God! This is a great hub. What childlike faith she had.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Thank you Patriette! I am glad that this article has invoked thinking - I believe that's the best way to grow in all aspects of life.

    • Patriette profile image

      Patriette 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Fascinating question you've raised, Robert. I'm rethinking my initial answer to the poll question. Will check back for the name of the professor who told you about the amazing woman in the story. Thanks for writing this very interesting and thought provoking article, Robert. Voting up, useful, and sharing.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      @David: That is a very deep point. I should make a write in section for the poll.

      @ScottHough: I'm glad you've enjoyed the discussion and I hope it helps you continue to grow spiritually.

      @Brain: Thanks for the comment. Have a great day!

    • profile image

      Brian Collins 5 years ago

      Very insightful hub makes a person think. Great job Rob.

    • profile image

      ScottHough 5 years ago

      Robert and Chris:

      What fantastic discussion.

      I would lie to save a life and pray to God for forgivness. But I would spend a great deal of time searching for the Right answer. The story of the Christian woman hiding Jews is wonderful. There are so many examples available to study. This hub gives me much to relect on.

      Thanks so much,

      Scott Hough

    • profile image

      David 5 years ago

      I think there should be another option on your poll. Right is never wrong.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      I'm glad you enjoyed the read, Chris. Yes, the story of Corrie ten Boom is a great one as well. I am trying to get the name of this woman. I heard about her through a Bible and philosophy professor I heard speak once. I believe he was from Southern Adventist University. I hope to contact him and get the name. I thought it was a fascinating story as well.

    • Chris Neal profile image

      Chris Neal 5 years ago from Fishers, IN

      I love this Hub! You did a great job! At first, though, I thought you were referring to Corrie ten Boom, but then I know that she did tell Germans she wasn't hiding Jews, also she hid them in a secret room, not a basement. Who is the lady you're referring to?

      Voted up, interesting, awesome! Shared!

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      @SJmorningsun25: Bringing out that verse in 1 Corinthians ties in perfectly! Thank you for sharing. And yes, it is sad how too many self-professed Christians seem to feel required to defend God. I think he can take care of his own reputation.

      @internpete: Thank you for your comment. And yes, God can provide multiple options. It's great!

      @MilesArmbruster: Yes, it is true that there are many examples of good people doing "bad" things to help others. I will not make a declarative statement as to whether that is right or wrong - although I do believe we reveal a lack of faith if we think God cannot accomplish is will without us disobey him to do what needs to be done.

      And Miles, I also agree that, thankfully, many of us will not experience this kind of situation. I like your point that for us, it is usually our own pride that is hurt.

    • MilesArmbruster profile image

      MilesArmbruster 5 years ago from Somewhere on the journey

      In Exodus chapter 1 the Hebrew midwives lied to the Egyptians to protect the lives of children. Although this event is given to us in a narrative and therefore can't be taken as a directive in the same way one would obey the Ten Commandments, we are still given an example of how to evaluate moral issues of this kind. The Bible is replete with examples of this kind because it is realistic and reflects the world we live in. We need to be careful to properly evaluate what is acceptable.

      Your example of hiding Jews during World War Two is an extreme case of the kind most of us, hopefully, won't face. It is much more likely that we would be pushed into a corner and tempted to lie to protect our reputation, or on behalf of an employer. For most of us, we will not be faced with a situation where we have the need to weigh a small sin against a huge sin.

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 5 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      A very thought provoking hub! I think your second story hits the nail on the head, that God can provide more than just two options. Thanks for posting this very interesting hub!

    • profile image

      SJmorningsun25 5 years ago

      Robert, this is a very well-written Hub. Thought-provoking. Your story about the woman who refused to lie reminded me of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which promises that when we are tempted, God always provides a way out. I think this Hub may inspire more legalistic Christians to lash out, seeing the world only in opposites, as you mentioned. I agree with you that when we insist on putting everything into its box--white or black, wrong or right, sin or righteous--we miss the wondrous opportunity of the gray. "Gray" does not mean morally ambiguous; it merely means that there might be a different way of looking at a situation. I think you handled this subject well.