Do You ALWAYS Have to Tell the Truth? (The Drew Mariani Show)

If someone asks you if you like their cooking, is it better to be brutally honest?

Drew explores the complexities of truth-telling, bringing up real-world dilemmas like returning excess change. He emphasizes that honesty is a fundamental aspect of respecting both oneself and others, tying it back to the biblical assurance from the Gospel of John, “the truth will set you free.”

He chats with Dr. Janet Smith, a distinguished emeritus professor of moral theology. The big question: Is it ever okay to lie, even if it’s just a tiny white lie?

Dr. Smith acknowledges that there are grey areas. She references scenarios like complimenting a bride or protecting innocent lives during wartime, where telling a “lie” might prevent harm. According to the Catechism’s earlier version, it’s permissible to withhold the truth from those who don’t “deserve” to know it, if revealing it could cause significant harm. This approach contrasts with the more absolutist stance in the later version of the Catechism.

Dr. Smith argues that good sportsmanship, like in tennis, involves honesty, but there’s a difference when the stakes include personal or family livelihood. If your boss demands to know the truth, she argues that it would be better to be honest about an ethical mistake, even if it meant losing your job.

Ultimately, Dr. Smith leans toward the idea that the intention behind speech can justify withholding the truth if it prevents greater harm, challenging even great thinkers like Thomas Aquinas on the purpose of speech. It’s a nuanced take that encourages you to think deeply about the ethical implications of honesty in different scenarios.

What’s your take? Is it ever OK to tell a white lie? 

Jake Moore serves as a Digital Audio Content Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is passionate about classic movies, Christian music, young adult ministry, and leading this generation to Christ through compelling media. You can listen to more of his podcasts at and on the Relevant Radio® app.