|Is Rahab praised for lying?|
Josh. 2:4-6 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don't know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them." (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)
On the point of this story, Skeptics have a question about this NT verse:
James 2:24-5 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?
The Skeptics want to know how James can hold up Rahab as an example, since she was a liar.
Of course, James isn't complimenting Rahab for lying here -- he's complimenting her for her loyalty to the God of Israel and His promise to destroy Jericho, which she enacted by giving lodging to the spies and sending them in a different direction.
Now some may say, "Well, that a poor example to hold up - someone who LIED!" OK - as long as you agree that the people who lied about having Jews in their cellars were poor examples of humanitarians to hold up, I'll go along with that.
Strangely enough it is Skeptics here who are thinking in the very "black and white" way they often rail against in "fundamentalism" -- not realizing that the Bible does endorse the concept of a hierarchy of morals, in which one rule may take precedence over another (as in the rule of not working on the Sabbath, vs. healing). Indeed, in the Biblical world lying under certain circumstances -- like Rahab's, for the greater good -- was considered just, honorable, and admirable.