Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Virtuous Lie

Last Saturday morning my wife Gloria left the house saying she was going to get her hair cut. Some time later she returned, opened the front door and entered. A few steps behind her was my wonderful younger daughter Melissa. The two had conspired for weeks to surprise me in anticipation of my approaching birthday by having Melissa come for a visit. I was totally astounded, had no hint of what was going on. We had a marvelous weekend.

But Gloria told me a lie. It was unvarnished prevarication, an outright fabrication totally lacking in verisimilitude. Yes, but it was a virtuous lie, free of all moral delinquency., absent of any moral taint. The act met the two fundamental criteria of moral judgment(1). It honored my worth as a human being, and it had good consequence.

I shall always remember with gratitude this virtuous lie.
(1) The two are: honor the intrinsic worth of all sentient beings, especially humans, and promote the optimum good possible in a situation. My authority is the renowned philosopher-theologian Kenneth Cauthen in his classic work, The Ethics of Belief, 2 vols (Lima, Ohio: CSS Publishing Co., 2001)

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