“Liars go to hell.” This is probably one of the infamous lines related to lying ever. Admit it or not, there were times in our lives that we lied. Whether in small or in huge things, we were once guilty of it. Going back to the line, is there any chance that liars can escape hell? Can I still change and correct the things I lied about? Will God forgive me for lying?
Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
CCC 2468 Truth as uprightness in human action and speech is called truthfulness, sincerity, or candor. Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and in guarding against duplicity, dissimulation, and hypocrisy.
As Catholics, we know how much the Church values the importance of truth for her Head is Jesus who is the truth (John 14:6).
So when one breaks the truth, that person is lying.
CCC 2483 Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man’s relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.
Lying as a Sin
It is the 8th Commandment that we break when we lie.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
It commands us to be truthful. And forbids us to lie, injure the name of others and violate secrecy.
In addition, there are also bible passages that prove that lying is wrong and sinful.
“You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
“Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.”
Fighting for the truth
There are a lot of holy persons who were persecuted because of standing for the truth.
St. Thomas More is one. He surrendered his life rather than approve the divorce of King Henry VIII and also to deny the truth that the Pope is the head of the Catholic Church. He was beheaded.
Another one is St. Polycarp of Smyrna. He was arrested by the Roman proconsul and put to death by burning when he refused to renounce Christianity.
Lastly, Blessed Franz Jagerstatter. He declined to fight in Hitler’s army. And for that, he was arrested and executed.
This is how important truth was for them that they willingly gave up their lives just to be on the side of truth.
Mortal or Venial Sin
In Catholicism, there are 2 categories of sin based on gravity. Mortal and Venial.
For a sin to be mortal, the following conditions must be met:
- It should be of grave matter
- Committed in full knowledge
- Committed with deliberate consent
If any of the above is absent, the sin will fall as venial.
Mortal sin must be brought up inside the confession to be absolved. While venial sin is encouraged to be confessed.
Now that we already know the categories, how do we know if the lie we committed is mortal or venial?
The problem actually lies in the first condition. How do we know if a lie is of grave matter?
CCC 2484 The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.
To elaborate, when you lie knowing that this will result in hurting someone, then that’s a mortal sin.
For example, lying when under the oath. This is perjury. And is a big crime that could drastically affect human life thus, a mortal sin.
As for white lies, these are usually done without the intention of harming anyone. These lies are mostly venial sins.
One example is lying to your boss about why you were absent last time, or it could be lying to your teacher about why you are late.
Now, let’s go back to the question.
Will God forgive me for lying?
Yes. God will forgive you for lying. No matter how severe your lying is, God can absolve you from this sin. You just have to ask for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession.
Inside the confession, you have to divulge your sins, in this case, lying. The priest will then give you counsel, ask for penance and finally absolve you from sin.
Lying is a sin. This act should not be tolerated. It has to be avoided. I know there may be times that we can’t avoid lying. It is our nature but we should always consider how this affects our souls.
Confession is such a powerful Sacrament. Through this, we can ask for God’s forgiveness.
If you feel the guilt caused by lying is consuming you, fret no more because God’s mercy is unfathomable.
“Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy” (Diary of St. Faustina, 1602)
Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.