The Planned Parenthood Videos: Is It Wrong to ‘Lie’ to Abortionists?

By John Zmirak Published on August 12, 2015

No one can deny the explosive impact of the Planned Parenthood videos painstakingly obtained over three years of undercover reporting by the Center for Medical Progress. A GOP that had shoved the abortion issue to the political back burner has suddenly seen it boiling over, with major Republican candidates (such as Marco Rubio) now speaking loudly about the “barbarism” of “murdering babies.”

As Jason Jones and I wrote here last week, if you tune out the Trump-induced static at the last Republican debate, you will hear one message loud and clear: The Republican party has committed itself to advancing protection for unborn children, to extending legal rights to one class after another of vulnerable unborn Americans as it becomes politically feasible, and slashing the funding of the organ-profiteering eugenics organization Planned Parenthood that targets the urban, black poor for abortions. The only openly pro-choice Republican candidate, George Pataki, barely registers in the polls. Donald Trump has been forced to claim a pro-life “conversion,” though he wants to use cheap accounting tricks to keep on subsidizing inner-city abortions, earning him the sobriquet “Planned Parenthood’s favorite Republican.”

You can read on left-wing sites like The Daily Beast anguished testimonies such as “I Don’t Know if I’m Pro-Choice After Planned Parenthood Videos.” You can see fear begin to edge out the arrogance on the face of pro-abortion candidates such as Hillary Clinton, as they double down on their support for Planned Parenthood, and refuse to watch the videos.

What’s the last thing you’d expect right now? That putative pro-lifers would start condemning all this evidence of moral advancement, claiming that the Center for Medical Progress used evil means to uncover the truth about Planned Parenthood — so evil that Christians should denounce the CMP for employing them, so sinister that these videos themselves will backfire and discredit the pro-life movement. Because, you see, the CMP’s investigators told Planned Parenthood employees things that weren’t true. And that is evil. By this logic, the Planned Parenthood videos are the fruit of a poison tree, and should not even be made public or shared. Like Nazi doctor Josef Mengele’s experimental results, or sins we overheard in someone else’s confession, we should shun them and keep them secret.

Catholic writer Mark Shea is leading the charge against Planned Parenthood’s critics. On July 21, Shea condemned the Center for Medical Progress in an online Catholic radio broadcast, where he also said that families sheltering Jews during the Holocaust would have sinned by deceiving the Nazis who hunted those Jews. At 35:30 he quipped, “The issue is not and never has been figuring out how to lie well; the issue is figuring out how to hide your Jews well.” Then he chortled heartily.

Curiously, Shea has no previous track record of condemning the use of deception by police trapping pedophiles, CIA operatives fighting terrorism, or animal rights activists infiltrating factory farms. But over several years, Shea has spilled tens of thousands of words denouncing pro-life investigative reporters who infiltrated Planned Parenthood, even alleging that these pro-lifers had endangered their immortal souls by “tempting” professional abortionists into sin. You see, the prolife investigators of Live Action, including Lila Rose, showed up at abortion clinics and made fake appointments, trying to see if the clinics were willing to violate relevant laws. According to Shea, Rose was playing the evil temptress by doing that, urging someone to sin … because they intended to give her an abortion, so they sinned as gravely as a murderer who shoots but misses. She “tempted” them to do that, so she is just as guilty. Really?

Clearly Shea doesn’t understand the difference between entrapment and legitimate undercover work. If someone is already in the business of habitual acts of evil, presenting him an opportunity to express that fixed intention in order to stop him is not considered entrapment under law. Nor is it a sin. By Shea’s logic, if a sniper were picking off pedestrians, police who shoved out a mannequin to draw away his fire would be “tempting” him to murder, since he intended to shoot a real person. To say that such policemen were guilty of “incitement to murder” would not just be false; it would be slander.

Such absurdities aside, let’s examine the question that deserves our serious scrutiny, which is echoed by serious thinkers, such as philosopher Christopher Tollefsen: To win the trust of the abortionists and obtain the video evidence of their human organ trafficking, the investigators from the Center for Medical Progress “lied.” And that’s always evil.

Or is it? Not every killing is murder. Is every verbal deception a sinful “lie”? That’s the only real question here, and it’s one that has vexed Christian thinkers since almost the beginning. There isn’t space here to review 2,000 years of theological debate, and in any case we can’t resolve this natural law question that bears on public policy affecting non-Christians as well as Christians by an easy appeal to authority. We must each use our reason to consider this question seriously and come to honest conclusions whose implications we’re willing to live with. An argument that yields ludicrous conclusions has got a flaw in it somewhere, usually way back in its unexamined premises.

Means and Ends

Any principled person will admit that the end does not justify the means. Not if the means is something intrinsically, that is, under every imaginable circumstance and by its very nature, evil. To clarify the point, let’s choose an extreme example. If it would have beaten Hitler sooner and stopped the Holocaust, should the Allies have been willing to recruit French and Belgian children as suicide bombers? No, because using children as weapons of war is evil, the same kind of evil as the Nazis were committing. You can’t use a “little” bit of real evil to fight for the good, a point which lay at the heart of The Lord of the Rings. The One Ring could serve as an allegory of any truly evil means, which corrupts the user. Some argue that Allied bombings of Axis cities from Dresden to Nagasaki was an intrinsically evil means, since it targeted civilians. In fact, I agree.

But the end can reveal an error in the chosen means. Keeping your hands clean and your conscience perfectly shiny is no excuse for letting the real world go to hell, or allowing the vulnerable to suffer at the hands of the utterly ruthless. When Gandhi advised Europe’s Jews (and also the Allies) to resist the Nazis by exclusively non-violent means, he played the role of a callous purist — as George Orwell pointed out.

While an individual choice for non-violence might be noble, universal pacifism is not merely quixotic and self-indulgent. It is actively sinful. It empowers the killers, thugs and rapists of this fallen world by disarming the forces of justice. When only your personal pride or even well-being is at stake, it can be right to turn the other cheek. But when the lives of others are involved, that amounts to reckless cowardice empowered by moralistic preening. So, I will argue, does refusing to fool the guilty in order to save the innocent — a stance I’ll call “verbal pacifism.”

The Bad Effects of Verbal Pacifism

Here are just a few of the implications of verbal pacifism. On that theory, the following activities would be intrinsically evil, just like using child suicide bombers against the Nazis — and it would be better to die, and let millions of others be tortured, raped or killed, rather than engage in them. In fact, doing any one of them would be a sin sufficient to damn one’s soul to hell:

  • Deceiving the Pharaoh who wished to kill all the newborn male Hebrews — as the midwives did in Exodus 1:15-21. (The Bible tells us that “God dealt well with the midwives.”)
  • Deceiving priest-hunters by using assumed names, as Jesuit missionaries did when they ministered in Reformation England, and St. Miguel Pro did in Mexico in the 1920s.
  • Deceiving the Nazis to rescue Jews from the gas chambers, as Oskar Schindler did.
  • Distributing false baptismal certificates so that Jews could pass as Gentiles and escape extermination, as John XXIII did during World War II.
  • Using false documents and false statements in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, like the conspirators working with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who were aided by Pope Pius XII (who passed their messages via Vatican couriers).
  • Deceiving the brutal dictators who hoped to hunt down and torture leftist priests, as Pope Francis did while serving as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
  • Posing as a child in online forums in order to catch child porn distributors and pedophiles, as police routinely do — having found it the only effective means of capturing such predators.
  • Pretending to be an Islamist, in order to infiltrate terrorist organizations like al-Qaida and ISIS, as CIA operatives do.
  • Misleading criminal suspects about the evidence you have, as police do to obtain truthful confessions without coercion.
  • Infiltrating an abortion business like Planned Parenthood to see if they are breaking laws about statutory rape and organ trafficking, as Live Action and the Center for Medical Progress did.

Any moral philosophy that claims that all these activities are intrinsically evil has got some explaining to do. By insisting on premises that yield such repugnant conclusions, and claiming that the only alternative is a crass and unprincipled pragmatism, verbal pacifists are cutting off their nose to spite their face.

Where the Great Augustine Went Wrong

Verbal pacifists’ profound confusion can be traced to one of the greatest writers and thinkers in history, St. Augustine, who wrote in De Mendacio that it would be wrong to deceive murderers at your door who asked about their hoped-for victim within. (Augustine found falsehood especially repulsive because it played such a major role in his previous life as a pagan, when he worked as a rhetorician, by his own admission flattering and lying for hire.) Augustine was not a physical pacifist, however, just a verbal one. While he wouldn’t allow you to lie to these would-be killers, if they tried to force their way in, you might be justified in killing them. Thomas Aquinas agreed; he likewise condemned all deception, but allowed for defensive wars, and even the use of torture on Christian “heretics.”

How can we make sense of such a position, which sees physical violence as almost morally neutral — its merits depend on the situation at hand — but verbal falsehood as evil beyond excusing? Moral philosopher Janet Smith has done the heavy lifting here. In a brilliant article for First Things provoked by Mark Shea’s relentless campaign against pro-life activists, she critiqued the fundamental premise of the Augustinian tradition: That human speech was created exclusively for speaking the truth, and we sinfully pervert it by using it deceptively, in however worthy a cause.

As Smith writes, that claim is correct as far as it goes. Just so, human hands were not made to kill or fight with other men, but to till the Garden of Eden. However, given the Fall, God permits us and even commands us to use our bodies in new ways that would have been unnecessary and wrong in an unfallen world: Thus Christian soldiers and policemen can use deadly force when needed in defense of the innocent. Why should our words be held to such a radically different standard than our bodies?

At this point in the argument, someone is bound to start misquoting scripture, pointing to the fact that Christ is called “the Word,” and suggesting that what we say is morally more significant than what we do, since it reflects our inner selves more purely or perfectly or something. That is gnostic balderdash. Christ saved us not by what He said but by what He did. On the cross. With His body.

In the early Church, non-Christians were invited to attend the liturgy long enough to hear the Gospel — but then ushered out before the sacrifice of His sacred body and blood. Even today, we let the unbaptized read the Bible, but not partake in Communion. And so on. It is frankly bizarre to treat words, made by man, as more significant than bodies that took life from God.

Just so, CMP’s words, spoken to professional killers who have no right to expect the truth, were nothing sacred. What was sacred were the lives of those tiny, helpless humans whom Planned Parenthood sells like scrap metal or chicken parts. We must choose our words very carefully in such innocent children’s defense. We will each someday be called to answer for what we did or didn’t do to help “the least” among us.

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  • When Gandhi advised Europe’s Jews (and also the Allies) to resist the
    Nazis by exclusively non-violent means, he played the role of a callous
    purist — as George Orwell pointed out.

    But did Gandhi chortle heartily?

    • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

      Gandhi was a megalomaniac enema freak who slept between young girls to ‘test’ his celibacy.

  • Jared White

    I sometimes wonder how carefully these people have read the Bible. James 2:24-45 says “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?” And what exactly did she do? She hid spies and lied to her own people telling them that the spies had fled when they were still in her home (see Joshua 1:4-5). She was justified by doing this! (Rehab, by the way, was the great, great, great, etc. Grandmother of Jesus.)

    • sw85

      The traditional teaching is that Rahab was justified for her fear of the Lord and her reception and good treatment of His messengers, not for the lie itself. St. Thomas Aquinas mentions Judith as an analogous case, saying she was “praised, not for lying to Holofernes, but for her desire to save the people, to which end she exposed herself to danger.”

      • Phil Steinacker

        Aquinas was selectively justifying her in the way he did by avoiding the fact that she saved the people and exposed herself by danger precisely by lying. Looks like a deliberate dodge to avoid undermining his argument about never lying.

        You know, he wasn’t right about everything (Immaculate Conception).

  • CMP’s work certainly didn’t backfire in Louisiana, Alabama, and New Hampshire.

  • It’s a boy!

  • Mark_Trail

    The purpose of Law Enforcement is to enforce laws, not hide them or ignore them. CMP was doing undercover journalism to expose Planned Parenthood and the lax law enforcement that lied to themselves as to the nature and purpose of their work. Citizens have a responsibility to resist immorality, whether that right to resist unjust laws is recognized in the laws of the country they live in or not.

    The greater sin is on the Magistrate that hides and ignores, or even enables immorality by enacting and then enforcing unjust laws and then allows, through benign neglect, the unjust to increase their participation in immorality through creating constellations of sin off the original unjust law.

    • Resist immorality by practicing immorality! Brilliant.

      • Mark_Trail

        Resisting tyranny is what undercover journalism is all about. If there were no unjust laws, and if men were angels, we wouldn’t need governments or a press to expose evil.

        Since governments are protecting unjust laws, then we need to have a free press to expose the facts to the general public, and let us decide what should be done about it.

        Did mainline media go undercover? No, and selling baby parts has been going on for at least 15 years. Even the regulations regarding the procurement of baby parts has been generally ignored by Planned Parenthood. The general public has a right to know this.

        Using baby parts that weren’t consented to be used can be prevented how? Using dangerous procurement methods can be prevented how? Behind closed doors, anything that’s done is therefore done by consent of whom?

        Without a free press, there is no free America. And without a free America, there is no free world.

        • mike

          And just for the record, the MSM is not a free unbiased press. 🙁

      • Phil Steinacker

        First Rule of Holes: When you are in a hole, stop digging.

        Recall, if you will, King Solomon who appeared to seriously rule that an infant be split in half to satisfy conflicting claims of motherhood when, all along, it was a ruse to flush out the real mother.

        THAT was immoral? THAT was wisdom.

        There are instances in the Bible when deceit to advance God’s plan on earth were used by those chosen by Him to bring it about.

        You are going to find it progressively more difficult to dig your way out of this.

  • Bloodnut The Flatulent

    Abraham “lied” to the King of Egypt by telling him that Sarah as actually his sister. This is documented.

    This, also, is documented: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

    So….. Mr. Holier-than-Thou… (that would be the objects of the article, not the author) Debate that.

    • sez

      I’m not taking side in the question of when it is OK to lie. Just responding to your debate challenge.

      Abraham wasn’t perfect. Just because his enormous and exemplary faith – demonstrated by his willingness to sacrifice his son – was credited to him as righteousness, that doesn’t mean his every word and deed throughout his entire life were holy and exemplary.

      Just because something is documented in the Bible, that doesn’t mean it is a commandment. The Bible has lots of historical information: the good, the bad, and the ugly. It must be read in context.

      • Bloodnut The Flatulent

        Look, I agree with you wholeheartedly. My comment was intended for the d’nozzle that wrote this piece. Considering the gruesome proof that has been uncovered (and obviously for the greater good, wouldn’t you think?) to try to somehow diminish its “gruesomeness” by deflecting onto the folks that: yeah, ok, fine. They LIED. That makes ’em doomed for Hades, eh? Some folks just don’t have a good grasp on the subject material; this “author/columnist/whatever” being one of them.

        My point was that Abraham “lied”, too. Yeah, I know that doesn’t make him “perfect” (NEWS FLASH: There was only one ‘perfect’ person in this world. We killed Him.) but he isn’t being “judged” as a lying sinner. These folks are.

        What happened to “not judging”? There are things that a man/woman must do. There is a conviction to be followed; a conscience to obey. Whatever decisions are made, are between that man/woman and God. HE is the one they will have to give account to – no one else.

        I’m just irritated by pontificating Catholic priests who, of all people, should know better.

    • missing

      She WAS his sister. They had the same father.
      Genesis 20:12

  • Thank you so much for writing this. Few things make my blood boil as much as Christians who focus on minutiae at the expense of Truth.

    • Yes, minutiae like “Though shalt not bear false witness.” Ya know, things that have nothing to do with Truth.

      • Phil Steinacker

        Yeah – like Jacob and his mom lying to his father Isaac just so he would be the one to expand the family into the creation of the nation – and later, the kingdom – of Israel, from which sprang the bloodline of the House Of David giving rise to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

        Yeah. THAT false witness…leading to that TRUTH.

        Go back to Mark Shea and tell him, sorry, but it’s obvious to the rest of us that on this point his Catholicism is a charade.

        • missing

          It WAS wrong of them to lie though. What we will never know, because of their sin, is whether Isaac would have chosen God’s will at the very last moment, of his own accord.

          It is a lack of faith that lead people to lie. Do you think God so weak that He couldn’t correct Isaac’s ignorance? Or that He couldn’t fix things even if Isaac had blessed Esau instead?

          A previous commenter on this site said that he couldn’t think of any other way to expose Planned Parenthood, except by lying. In other words, he has no faith that God can do something that this commenter can’t imagine.

  • Ed

    Right on the money. The comparison with the priest-hunters in Reformation England is especially apt – the Jesuits in England were forced to operate a sectret network whose members would all have heartily yet untruthfully denied that they were practising Catholics, let alone priests. The forty English martyrs are not considered damnably dishonest, as far as I’m aware.

    • bdrew

      How old is the universe? What is the meaning of life? What does God look and/or sound like? How many times have you met him/her/it? How did all of the animals fit on the ark? How did Noah feed all of the animals, and did he already know exactly what all of their very different diets were and how to go about keeping them? Did a man really live in a whale? If you haven’t asked him all of these questions, would you mind doing so the next time you speak to him as I would really like to know the answers? Can you contact him or does always contact you? As a matter of fact, if anyone else in this forum who is claiming to have spoken to God or who claims to know the mind of God, do you have the answers to any of my questions? Have you received answers about any of the other mysterious questions of life on our beautiful planet that I have missed here? Inquiring minds want to know!!!

  • Joellen

    You know, I would love to see Michael Voris and mark shae on stage together. Warrior Michael would finally expose the total fraud shae is in a matter of minutes. Please, someone arrange this!

    • catholicguy

      It already happened at the Argument of the Month club. Although the audio was never released to the public…. unfortunately.

  • Jude

    Well it’s nice to know that if thugs come to Mark Shea’s door and want to know where his wife and granddaughter are so they can rape them, he will tell them the absolute truth. I’m sure that will be of great comfort to his family.

  • Davis Wenbil

    I hope Mark Shea reads this intelligent article and is swayed by it’s logic. Also that he doesn’t stereotype the author as a hate mongering, uncaring, single issue, non-seamless garment, radical right-winger. If so, Mr. Shea would once again be wrong. Thanks for your fine article Mr. Zmirak.

    • rat patrol

      Don’t count on it.

      • mike

        I agree with you. It appears Shea would play the Holier than Thou role. What has he done to expose this evil? Or is is just too simple to ignore it so he can socialize with his “Pro-Abortion” friends. He has nothing useful to say, like empty gongs blowing in the wind.
        If this were WWII, he would feel it was his duty to answer truthfully if asked if he knew where any Jews were.
        I grow tired of these “religious” that argue about the number of angles on the head of the pin and complain about others that try and pull the curtain back.

    • James Cantrell

      Mark Shea is prone to do all that. If he has supporters, powerful ones, who like Zmirik, he won’t. But that seems to be his go to move every time someone disagrees with him.

    • Mark did read the article and responded to it on his blog at Patheos, where he states clearly that John is misrepresenting and lying about Mark’s views.

  • Dean Bruckner

    Thank you, John!

    In military ethics, some Christians distinguish between a ruse (non-verbal deception) and verbal deception, allowing the first but forbidding the second. I think this is a distinction without a difference.

    At the Coast Guard Academy, where I both attended and later taught, the cadet honor concept is, “Cadets do not lie, cheat, steal or attempt to deceive.” Outside scripture this is as good a statement on non-verbal deception as I know. One Christian friend of mine was ostracized because she, when on duty and required to count everyone at lights out time, correctly turned in a classmate for an honor violation. He had stuffed his bunk, thereby making it appear he was sleeping in it, when in fact he was out partying for most of the night. She paid the greater short term price, and ended up resigning from the Cost Guard Academy because she was cruelly given the silent treatment and cold shoulder by her friends and classmates. But without doubt he, unless he repented, is paying and will pay the greater long-term price.

    Corrie Ten Boom’s family hid Jews in their home in Holland during the N@zi occupation. Her father, Peter, refused to make any verbal false statements even when hiding Jews from Nazis. As the movie The Hiding Place shows, he once tells the searching Nazis that the Jews are “under the table.” They are, of course, but also under the floor under the dining room. The N@zi lifts the tablecloth, sees no one under the table, and says, “Old fool!” The Jews are saved.

    Corrie, on the other hand, ran a full-blown covert operation with consummate skill. She credits this to the gift that God gave her for that time. She spoke many “lies” during this time, and felt that God aided her in every step, and Jews were saved.

    Eventually her entire family was taken to the concentration camps, and she alone survived. When she was “accidentally” released the day before women her age were gassed, she returned home and tried to pick up where she left off. As she describes in her book (also titled The Hiding Place), she gave false verbal information to the Nazis again and knew instantly that she no longer had her previous “gift.” She abandoned her former work instantly and instead focused on reaching out to women who were in prisons. God used her even more greatly, if that were possible, in her new God-appointed task. She visited America in the decades after the war, and actually stayed in my grandmother’s home when my mother was a teen.

    The Apostle Paul states in 1 Cor 7:6 (ESV), “Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” His topic is marriage versus singleness, but I believe it can be faithfully applied to situations where God has not spelled out his instructions for a given circumstance in such a way that covers every situation explicitly and exhaustively. Corrie Ten Boom had her gift, for a time, and her father had his. Both served according to their consciences, and both have to answer to the God who gifted them.

    This is not just an academic discussion for Christians around the world. It is only a matter of time, and not much time I think, before a bloody persecution breaks out, including in America. Its targets will be Jews and faithful Christians as well as the unborn and infants. People who will sacrifice and c@nnibalize preborn babies (that is what @bortion and fetal stem cell treatments are, respectively) are steeped in the demonic–even as most fail to realize it–and will thus do anything. Imprisoning, robbing and destroying Christians and Jews will be a logical but previously overlooked afterthought, hastily but happily appended to the commandments of the culture of death.

    We will face the same tests as the Ten Booms, and we had best be finding out as much as we can how we can serve the purposes of God in our generation in the way they served God’s purposes in theirs. We are to love our enemies, as did they, and pray for those who persecute us. S@tan can counterfeit many things, but love for enemies is beyond him. That will result in God’s light shining into the darkest corners of the demonically-corrupted culture we inhabit, and some of our enemies will be saved.

  • Dean Bruckner

    I hate the filter that routes comments to comment purgatory when the comments use the same words as in the article. If the site’s editors reviewed these in a reasonable amount of time, it would be tolerable. Is there any better solution? Thanks!

  • Dean Bruckner

    Thank you, John!

    In military ethics, some Christians distinguish between a ruse (non-verbal deception) and verbal deception, allowing the first but forbidding the second. I think this is a distinction without a difference.

    At the Coast Guard Academy, where I both attended and later taught, the cadet honor concept is, “Cadets do not lie, cheat, steal or attempt to deceive.” Outside scripture this is as good a statement on non-verbal deception as I know. One Christian friend of mine was ostracized because she, when on duty and required to count everyone at lights out time, correctly turned in a classmate for an honor violation. He had stuffed his bunk, thereby making it appear he was sleeping in it, when in fact he was out partying for most of the night.

    She paid the greater short term price, and ended up resigning from the Cost Guard Academy because she was cruelly given the silent treatment and cold shoulder by her friends and classmates. But without doubt he, unless he repented, is paying and will pay the greater long-term price. I like that the honor concept is stated in the plural, “Cadets….” This shows the proper role of peer support in keeping a difficult standard. But this role can be perverted to eliminate those who keep it, as my example shows.

    Corrie Ten Boom’s family hid Jews in their home in Holland during the N@zi occupation. Her father, Peter, refused to make any verbal false statements even when hiding Jews from N@zis. As the movie The Hiding Place shows, he once tells the searching N@zis that the Jews are “under the table.” They are, of course, but also under the floor under the dining room. The N@zi lifts the tablecloth, sees no one under the table, and says, “Old fool!” The Jews are saved.

    Corrie, on the other hand, ran a full-blown covert operation with consummate skill. She credits this to the gift that God gave her for that time. She spoke many “lies” during this time, and felt that God aided her in every step, and Jews were saved.

    Eventually her entire family was taken to the concentration camps, and she alone survived. When she was “accidentally” released the day before women her age were gassed, she returned home and tried to pick up where she left off. As she describes in her book (also titled The Hiding Place), she gave false verbal information to the N@zis again and knew instantly that she no longer had her previous “gift.” She abandoned her former work instantly and instead focused on reaching out to women who were in prisons. God used her even more greatly, if that were possible, in her new God-appointed task. She visited America in the decades after the war, and actually stayed in my grandmother’s home when my mother was a teen.

    The Apostle Paul states in 1 Cor 7:6 (ESV), “Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” His topic is marriage versus singleness, but I believe it can be faithfully applied to situations where God has not spelled out his instructions for a given circumstance in such a way that covers every situation explicitly and exhaustively. Corrie Ten Boom had her gift, for a time, and her father had his. Both served according to their consciences, and both have to answer to the God who gifted them.

    This is not just an academic discussion for Christians around the world. It is only a matter of time, and not much time I think, before a bloody persecution breaks out, including in America. Its targets will be Jews and faithful Christians as well as the unborn and infants. People who will sacrifice and c@nnibalize preborn babies (that is what @bortion and fetal stem cell treatments are, respectively) are steeped in the demonic–even as most fail to realize it–and will thus do anything. Imprisoning, robbing and destroying Christians and Jews will be a logical but previously overlooked afterthought, hastily but happily appended to the commandments of the culture of death.

    We will face the same tests as the Ten Booms, and we had best be finding out as much as we can how we can serve the purposes of God in our generation in the way they served God’s purposes in theirs. We are to love our enemies, as did they, and pray for those who persecute us. S@tan can counterfeit many things, but love for enemies is beyond him. That will result in God’s light shining into the darkest corners of the demonically-corrupted culture we inhabit, and some of our enemies will be saved.

  • A few thoughts:

    – How do we square lying with the 8th commandment? (Ex 20:16, Deut 5:20))

    – How do we square lying with the Catechism? (CCC 2482-2487)

    I don’t think we can, and the Catechism (“a sure norm for teaching the faith”, recall) teaches us that “By its very nature, lying is to be condemned.” (CCC 2485)

    Can we condemn lying and condemn the evils that have been revealed as a result of lying? Absolutely and we are called to do both.

    (Apparently I ran afoul of the comment policy by including links in my previous attempts. My apologies to the administrators for the multiple post attempts.)

  • Jared B.

    Thank you for putting together this fair presentation of this issue, and your reasoned defense (plus Smith’s article which is very helpful).

    I would just add that, to paraphrase Pope Benedict XVI, “there isn’t anything in the Catechism about police sting operation.” I just mean that it isn’t a given that Catholic moral teaching condones such things, or that they aren’t sinful. Nor is it necessarily ludicrous to say that just because something isn’t illegal as entrapment, it may still be a sin. Plenty of things society makes legal and considers expedient, even necessary, are sinful.

    I do believe a case can be made that some forms of deception a la sting operations can be squared with Catholic moral teaching, but the case does have to be made, not assumed. Thank you for helping to make that case.

  • Praelium

    I admire Mark Shea and appreciate his scholarship. He wrote, “You cannot do evil that good may come of it.” I also appreciate John Smirak and read his scholarly and fun books. Mr. Smirak wrote, “Is every verbal deception a sinful ‘lie’?” Commenting on St. Thomas’ Politics, Thomas Gilby, OP, writes, “Let the virtuous politician be a match for the children of this world” (1963: 234). The solution is for Planned Parenthood to be honest about their industry.

  • Steve

    This is one of those times where the word “conundrum” comes to mind. I would say that undercover reporting is indeed breaking the law but when compared with the wall of secrecy by pph it may have been the only way to expose them. Of course out of the woodwork the slippery slopers cry our country will fall by such ethics of investigation and over the din the loudest voices are pph waving progressive flags. Its like the little kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar by the spying parents trying to say it was unfair of them. However, to argue in such a way is simply put to rest by considering, in the case of Christianity, the activities of Jesus. He kicked the temple sinners out and certainly was not “nice” breaking all kinds of religious laws in pursuit of the truth. It certainly should not be seen as a slippery slope license for government spying on people. I for one am glad the criminals were caught sipping their wine while talking prices. I did clinical time at planned parenthood in the 1990s and we actually were trained to do pap smears and they did give free condoms and prescribed treatment for stds and referred mammograms but they did not do abortions that i am aware of at that clinic. I think there are some that are set up for performing abortions and certainly this recent exposure should be something they would welcome if there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. However, it seems that they have slipped into some unethical activities.

  • GoodNews

    Let’s make honorable mention of Rahab the harlot who acted deceptively to protect God’s annointed spies and won mention in the faith hall of fame.

  • Andrew

    Error in this article: John XXIII was not the pope during World War II. It was Pius XII who saved a great many Jews at that time.

  • Divine Fire

    An Open Letter to Mr. Mark Shea,

    Dear Mr Shea,

    56,000,000 Americans have been wiped from the face of the earth since Roe v. Wade. Yet here you are today criticizing the Center for the Medical Progress for “lying” to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is an evil organization that murder babies and sell their body parts. This is not the time for you to be dividing the Body of Christ. We should come together as Catholics and fight this evil organization. YOU, MR SHEA, HAVE FAILED as a moral theologian to comprehend the HEART OF THE LAW OF GOD.

    You focused on the lesser law of God (lying) and DISREGARDED the superior law of God (saving someone’s life). There is such a thing called JUSTIFY LYING, this Justify lying comes directly from the Sacred Scriptures:

    Key Verse:

    “Love covers a multitude of sins” – 1 Peter 4:8

    Here you go Mr. Shea, I will spell this out for you since you are too blind to understand this verse:

    “Love [Stopping PP from murdering babies by getting them in trouble with the law] covers a multitude of sins [lying…JUSTIFY LYING].” – 1 Peter 4:8

    I suggest that you apologize to the Body of Christ for division, to Lila Rose, the Center for Medical Progress, and all those people who put there lives at risk everyday for exposing the many evils that destroy humanity. These heroes are truly focused on the superior laws of God.

    Please redeem yourself Mr. Shea and focus on the HEART OF THE LAW OF GOD. PLEASE FOCUS ON THE SUPERIOR LAW OF GOD, EVEN WHEN IT CONFLICTS WITH THE LESSER LAW OF GOD!

    Sincerely,

    Divine Fire

  • Dr. Mabuse

    Shea has only one guiding principle: support anything that damages his real, eternal enemies, those snooty, stuck-up, snobbish “Haves” on the Right. It’s why he’s perpetually crooning love songs to Pope Francis, because the guy promises to baptize his favourite hatreds. When this story first broke, he started out saying “I know I said that lying was bad, but this is just too extreme to ignore” because he didn’t see the Center for Medical Progress as enemies like his old bête noir, Project Rescue. (He’d probably never heard of them, and didn’t have a ready-made reaction handy.) I figured that even he had seen sense on this issue, but obviously in the intervening weeks he’s managed to find a convenient slot on the Rightwing Enemies’ List to lodge this new group, and so now they too have been ejected from his very exclusive club of righteous warriors for the truth. It’s so exclusive, actually, that there’s nobody in it, to judge by the number of victories it’s garnered.

  • Michael Manhardt

    I think the actions of CMP are in line with the Gospel. In Matthew 10:16, Jesus commands the disciples: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”. I believe that David and the CMP team were being wise (clever, cunning, shrewd and strategic) like a snake, while remaining pure in their response to a righteous anger that should exist within all Christian people who believe that abortion is killing. If Planned Parenthood isn’t made up of “wolves”, I don’t know what is.

  • It should be known that Mark Shea has written a response to this article stating, in no uncertain terms, that John is misrepresenting and lying about Mark’s views. You can find it on his blog at Patheos.

    I tried to post a direct link to his response last night, but the comment has not yet been posted, so I can only assume it was rejected by the moderator.

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