Morally, lying is wrong and we should be more open about ourselves and truths that be, even if it hurts someone. People get hurt all of the time, and hiding something with a lie can only make things worse in the end. I try my best to be truthful as often as possible; yes, we all have secrets — I can easily withhold information — but I don't often fabricate a fib. Transparency would be a fine thing indeed.
However, we do not live in a perfect society, and most importantly none of us are perfect: lying happens all of the time and, depending on the situation, it may be the best course of action. I have lied a few times and trust me, that guilt stays with you.
I hear it said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions… I wonder if this "Hell" could simply be your own mind troubled by all of the little white lies made throughout your life. These lies, and the feelings of guilt they bring, build up and eat away at you more and more each day, making life a little more miserable and hellish. Just a thought.
Self-preservation is important, of course, and I think any sensible person would say the same thing, that it is permissible to lie under such circumstances because you desire to live more than anything else. But wouldn't you feel bad about having to lie about who you are? It doesn't seem fair to yourself. I'm not saying it would be preferable to be a martyr, but if you can't stand up for what you believe, for what and who you are, then what can you stand up for?
What does it mean to protect yourself or others though? Do you mean their feelings? Wouldn't their feelings be hurt anyway though, if they ever discovered the truth? That their happiness was based on a lie? Or do you mean protect them physically?
I'm honest when I'm asked for my opinion, so I don't lie to protect feeling 95% of the time.
But, say, one of my friends came up pregnant and had absolutely no idea what to do, and then the next day I get asked, "Hey, is so-and-so pregnant?" My answer will be "I have no idea" or just flat-out "No."
I agree with both the "Depends what the lie is about" and "Okay in some situations, people don't need to get hurt", but had to choose one... In many situasions, lying is the only way out. Lying isn't necessarily a bad thing