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Shading The Truth

I know of a veterinarian from a few years ago, a good and well-meaning man, who one day found himself unable to do anything for a new terminally-ill patient, a cat that would live only a few more days, in terrible agony (it wasn't the kitten in the picture, who now as an adult often sits on my desk as I'm writing Daily Bible Study, as she was doing as the first draft of this study was being written). All that he had to power to do was euthanasia to end the cat's suffering. The owner of the cat, who was already very upset at the condition of a cherished family pet, became unusually distraught at the suggestion of giving permission to end its life, even in view of its suffering, because "that cat is like a child to me." So, the veterinarian suggested keeping the suffering cat in his animal hospital overnight, "to do what could be done," and a final decision could be made the next day after the owner "slept on it." The owner agreed, and after holding the cat for a few minutes, promising to return first thing in the morning, went home.

Cutie Pie The next morning the owner returned promptly at 8:00 as the animal hospital was opening to the public, and was met at the door by the veterinarian who, before anything else could be said, told the owner, "I'm very sorry, your cat died about an hour ago." He immediately saw on the owner's face a feeling of grief, at the loss of the pet, but also a feeling of relief, not just from the knowledge that the cat's terrible suffering had ended, but that they wouldn't have to either give the order to have their cat "put to sleep" - and then watch it being done because, by their own sense of loyalty to the end, they would have chosen to be there, or if permission for euthanasia was not going to be given, to watch the cat dying in agony at home over the days that followed.

What the veterinarian told the cat's owner was completely accurate, as far as it went; it did die about an hour before the owner got there, but what he didn't say was that it died because he took it upon himself to euthanize the cat to humanely end its suffering. In his own mind, the doctor did the right thing for everyone - he ended the animal's hopeless suffering, and he relieved the cat's owner of either having to make a painful personal decision that they would have had to live with for the rest of their life, or to be left with the memory of their cat dying in agony if they took it back home.

Apart from the legal matter of having put down an animal without the owner's permission, did the veterinarian do anything wrong? More specifically, did the veterinarian lie to the owner?

At no time did the veterinarian say anything to the pet owner that was inaccurate, or "technically" a lie. He never denied doing what he did, because he was never asked if he did it. His diagnoses of the cat's condition was correct and true, that there was no cure or effective treatment was true, and that the cat died an hour before the owner got there was true. But was it truth? Or was it a shading of the truth that misled someone who he wanted to "spare" from the truth?

Let Your Light Shine Without Shadows

There are many Christian-professing teachers in the world today who, out of fear of rejection or hostile reaction, use shading of the truth to teach, or far more often, to avoid teaching, some of the many often-unpopular truths of The Bible. Ironically, these teachers are often very Scripturally-accurate, as far as their (very limited) courage allows them to go, but at the same time, misleading, because, even though many of them do know better, they don't teach the whole truth - which is the only truth there is. To a Christian, there is no "shading the truth." The Word of God must shine in its full brightness, everywhere, on everyone, no shadows, no dark spots, because those who teach "truth" that misleads are liars.

"We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's Word, but by the open statement of the Truth we would commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." (2 Corinthians 4:2 RSV)

"Have I then become your enemy by telling you the Truth?" (Galatians 4:16 RSV)

"Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the Truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another" (Ephesians 4:15 RSV)

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth" (2 Timothy 2:15 RSV)

Fact Finder: What language does Satan speak?
Satan's Language


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