This feels like a tricky question.
An opposite question “Is it always a bad thing to lie?” feels a little simpler.
(My answer would be, most of the time, with some rare exceptions. And it takes a lot of wisdom to figure out those exceptions.)
To the question at hand: I think that, as a rule, it is a good policy to be genuine and honest.
HOWEVER. I don’t think this means we should choose to say everything we think or feel. I have often seen people say a really unkind, unnecessary thing and then top it off with, “I’m just being honest.”
Well, just because it’s honest doesn’t mean it needs to be said!
So. When something does truly need to be said, then I think gentle, kind honesty is the most loving thing to choose.
But there are plenty of times when our honest thoughts can just be kept to ourselves. 😉
I just realized that I took this prompt in a relational direction, but that it could be referring to things like being honest on your tax return or honest when you break something in a store.
In cases such as that, I have a hard time imagining a time when it would be bad to be honest. Dishonesty in those cases would be entirely self-serving, and I can’t see justifying dishonesty that way.
I wonder if that’s the guiding rule I’d go by in any of these cases; basically, what would serve other people, not myself, best in this situation?
If I choose to not say a hard but necessary thing to a friend, I am serving myself. Honesty would be better.
If I say an unnecessary, unkind thing to a friend, I am serving myself, not that friend.
If I am dishonest on my tax return, that is self-serving.
If I don’t tell a store owner when I break something a store, that serves me, and it does not serve the store owner.
I think that when I’m faced with moral dilemmas, thinking, “What would truly show love to others?” really helps to clear up the moral fog.