From a reader…
I play board games and card games and some involve
For example, one game called cockroach poker involves different animal suits of cards, and on your turn you place a card facedown in front of someone and declare what type of card it is. You can either tell the truth or lie (e.g. say “this is a frog”, but its really a cockroach card). The person must then respond by either saying “yes it is a frog” or “no its not a frog”. If they are wrong, they are penalized, if they are right you are penalized. If you only told the truth in this game, you would lose and the game would be broken. I have other games that similarly include deception.
Is this a sin against the 8th commandment? Or, like acting, since it is in the context of a game and everyone knows you could be lying is it not a sin?
GUEST PRIEST RESPONSE: Fr. T. Ferguson
This is a seemingly simple question, but it calls for a necessarily complicated answer.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving. The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: “You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” 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. 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. CCC 2482-2484
In playing a card game, is the falsehood spoken with the intention of deceiving? To some extent, perhaps, but since all players know that deception is part of the game, is there really an intent to deceive? I would argue that, in the circumstances you cite, and many other games besides, there is no sin, especially if all players are given the instructions of the game at the outset.
Janet Smith, one of the finest moral theologians out there, has written some pretty interesting stuff on the question of lying and the sinfulness (or not) thereof in specific situations. https://www.firstthings.com/