What does it mean to tell the truth? (Ethics Part II Section V)

Unfortunately, the last 100 pages or Ethics are undeveloped. Bonhoeffer died before completing the book and this is all too evident toward the end. At times, it is difficult to see where he is going with some ideas. Some sections are reduced to elaborated outlines.
And then toward the end of the book, there is a great bit about speaking truth. What does it mean to speak the truth?
He explains that telling the truth is going to look different depending on “one’s relationships at each particular time.” He uses the example of a parent and child: “The truthfulness of a child towards his parents is essentially different from that of the parents towards their child. The life of the small child lies open before the parents, and what the child says should reveal to them everything that is hidden and secret, but in the converse relationship this cannot possibly be the case. Consequently, in the matter of truthfulness, the parents’ claim on the child is different from the child’s claim on the parents.”
Building on this example he goes on to say, “Speech between parents and children is, in the nature of the case, different from speech between man and wife, between friends, between teacher and pupil, government and subject, friend and foe, and in each case the truth which this speech conveys is also different.”
Bonhoeffer is right to point out that telling the truth is more than a simple matter of moral character. It also requires wisdom. He says, “It is also a matter of correct appreciation of real situations and of serious reflection upon them.”
I believe this is close to what Colossians 4:6 says, “Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” For Bonhoeffer, and for the Scriptures, truth is more nuanced than asking a simple question like, ‘Did I tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’? It is about asking questions like,
Should it be said?
Should it be said in this situation?
Should it be said to this person?
Should it be said at this time?


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