Live Action is in the news again. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the controversy, I'll summarize. Live-action believes that it's okay to lie to your enemies in order to bring about good. Traditional Catholic ethics disagrees with this. That's the essence of the controversy. Many people have written a lot about this so I'll refer you to them particularly Mark Shea who I think has done a really good job of expressing the traditional argument that lying is always a sin. I want to discuss a different point about this. Today I was reading an oldie but a goodie. The book I'm reading is called "Psychic Wholeness and Healing" by Drs. Anna Terruwe and Conrad Baars. The authors have done a very good job of combining Thomistic philosophical anthropology with contemporary psychology. I found one line particular striking. It's basic Thomistic thought but I've never applied it the way in which the authors express it. On page 24 they say, "The will strives for the fulfillment of the loved being." This is a striking statement. One of the points that I've always made to defend the traditional position that lying is always a sin has been from the fundamental nature of the human intellect.
The human mind is designed to discern all truth that can be known. When we lie to someone we deprive their mind of what it is made for. Feeding a persons mind with deliberate falsehood is like feeding a plant bleach. It's destructive. It hinders the flourishing of the object. But if this concept is combined with the statement in the book, then we are faced with a much deeper problem.
To lie to someone is not simply to do violence to their mind by feeding it falsehood. Rather, it is actually a statement that we do not love that person. To love someone is to desire their highest good. If we desire the good for the other then we desire the natural flourishing of the other. But if we lie to a person then we are impeding that person. If we are deliberately impeding the flourishing of that person it means that we do not love that person's flourishing.
By doing this, we have directed our wills not to desire the highest flourishing of the other. This is greatly problematic. The ramifications for a Christian should be obvious. Further, it is inconsistent with Catholic ethics to love the child who is probably about to die in an abortion clinic more than the person committing the evil act of the abortion. We are called to love all including our enemies. In fact, Christ implies that it's more important to love our enemies because even the pagans love their friends. Based on this principle alone we should be very concerned about trying to bring about good through committing an evil act. Any act that violates the nature of a fundamental part of the human person is highly problematic. Being the good guys restricts our actions. We are held to a higher standard because we are upholding the good. It is unacceptable to appropriate the weapons of the enemy in order to win a battle against that enemy.