Questions From Readers
● From time to time letters are received asking whether a certain circumstance would justify making an exception to the Christian’s obligation to tell the truth. In reply to these the following is given:
God’s Word commands: “Speak truth each of you with his neighbor.” (Eph. 4:25) This command, however, does not mean that we should tell everyone who asks us all he wants to know. We must tell the truth to one who is entitled to know, but if one is not so entitled we may be evasive. But we may not tell a falsehood.
Thus a sister should tell the truth about her age for the purpose of having correct information on her publisher’s record card, as that comes under the purvue of right to know. Fear to do so is a sign of vanity and immaturity. Nor may this particular information be kept from a prospective mate if that one thinks it important enough to ask. Such a one would also have a right to know. So it would depend upon the circumstances whether one may be evasive about one’s age or not.
The same principle applies in the case of a patient suffering from some incurable disease. He has the right to know the verdict of a medical examination as to his life prospects. He may not be denied the knowledge that is so vital to him—just how precious his days are to him by reason of their being so few. It does not make for trust, understanding and love to deceive such a one, and the one practicing the deception will be continually plagued by a guilty conscience. If the patient is dedicated to Jehovah he certainly will appreciate that his times are in God’s hands and therefore will not have a morbid fear of dying but will strengthen himself in the resurrection hope. Some who withheld such information, intending kindness, afterward found that it had been a mistaken kindness.
There is, of course, a right time and manner for divulging such information. The time should be opportune and the manner sympathetic yet not unduly sorrowful. It may not be amiss to observe that one may be hopeful about his condition in spite of such a prognosis, since medical knowledge is not infallible today. Love, wisdom and self-control will enable one to broach the subject properly and the result can be a far greater bond of affection than existed previously. At such a time the resurrection hope, the blessings already enjoyed as a member of the New World society as well as those that still lie ahead might also be mentioned.
What about telling a prospective mate the unfavorable truth about one’s past, such as before one became one of Jehovah’s witnesses? If the subject comes up and one is asked, the rule would apply that the truth should be told as the other has a right to know. If one is not asked, then it would be up to one’s discretion and conscience. However, if it appeared that the information was vital to the other, and the other did not ask simply because he did not think such a thing likely, then the information should be volunteered, trusting in love and understanding to cover over the matter. If there is to be any disillusionment, certainly it is far better that it take place before marriage than afterward. Here the well-known principle stated by Jesus would apply: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them; this, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean.”—Matt. 7:12.
There is one exception, however, that the Christian must ever bear in mind. As a soldier of Christ he is in theocratic warfare and he must exercise added caution when dealing with God’s foes. Thus the Scriptures show that for the purpose of protecting the interests of God’s cause, it is proper to hide the truth from God’s enemies. A Scriptural example of this is that of Rahab the harlot. She hid the Israelite spies because of her faith in their God Jehovah. This she did both by her actions and by her lips. That she had Jehovah’s approval in doing so is seen from James’ commendation of her faith.—Josh. 2:4, 5; Jas. 2:25.
This would come under the term “war strategy,” as explained in The Watchtower, February 1, 1956, and is in keeping with Jesus’ counsel that when among wolves we must be as “cautious as serpents.” Should circumstances require a Christian to take the witness stand and swear to tell the truth, then, if he speaks at all, he must utter the truth. When faced with the alternative of speaking and betraying his brothers or not speaking and being held in contempt of court, the mature Christian will put the welfare of his brothers ahead of his own, remembering Jesus’ words: “No one has greater love than this, that someone should surrender his [life] in behalf of his friends.”—Matt. 10:16; John 15:13.
● At Daniel 10:13 Michael is referred to as “one of the chief princes.” Are we to understand that there are other chief princes in heaven besides Michael?—M. P., U.S.A.
Yes, there is one other Chief Prince in heaven, Jehovah God himself. He is referred to as the “prince of princes” at Daniel 8:25, AS. See the book “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” pages 218, 219, 316.
However, while Jehovah is the only other Chief Prince in heaven, Satan the Devil also has his chief princes, who today are in the vicinity of the earth, having been cast down with Satan at the conclusion of the war in heaven described in Revelation, chapter 12. See the book “New Heavens and a New Earth,” page 29.