Yes it is okay to sometimes lie. What!? Do you find that shocking? We were taught that it is never okay to lie! The Bible says, "Lying lips are an abomination to Adonai, but those who deal faithfully are his delight." (Proverbs 12:22 CJB). There are many other verses which seem to suggest that lying is absolutely forbidden and the liar is doomed to Sh'ol. Take Revelation 21:8 for example: "But as for the cowardly, the untrustworthy, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those involved with the occult and with drugs, idol-worshippers, and all liars — their destiny is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, the second death." Sure sounds like lying is an unpardonable sin and that all liars are destined to the second death!
Turn to Exodus chapter 1 and read with me the story of the midwives.
Remember the story. A new king arises (verse 8), and among the horrors he imposes on the Israelites, he orders the Hebrew midwives to kill the male children of the Hebrew women (verse 16). But the midwives let the boys live and when asked, (verse 18-19), they lied! In verse 20, we find that the midwives were not punished for their lies, rather, they prospered! "Therefore God prospered the midwives, and the people continued to multiply and grow very powerful." (CJB). Since scripture does not record that the midwives were condemned to Sh'ol, it appears that their lie was overlooked!
Another instance: Turn to Joshua 2. Here, Rachav hid the Hebrew spies who had come to inspect the land and Yericho (verses 1-4), and she lied to the servants of the king regarding the whereabouts of the spies (verses 4-5). She lied! She, too, was not condemned to Sh'ol but was rewarded for her actions (Joshua 6:17-25).
But lying lips are an abomination to Adonai! Refer again to Proverbs 12:22! What gives? Indeed, other stories in the Bible reveal people who were punished for their lies! Read, for example, Acts 5:1-11.
If you consider the two cases, Exodus and Joshua, we see the lie perpetrated was in defense of someone else. The midwives protected the innocent Hebrew babies with a lie. Rachav, protected the Hebrew spies with a lie. This seems to be the key. A lie, if not meant for one's personal gain, pleasure, self-indulgence, or other reason of self-satisfaction or selfishness, can be credited as righteousness. Indeed, in the story of Hananyah and his wife Shappirah in Acts 5, their lie was for personal gain - and they were punished.
What does this mean to us today?
Well, we certainly should continue to raise our children according to Torah and teach them not to lie. Period. Children, typically learn to lie because they are learning the covering-up of guilt or they are trying to gain something; perhaps the approval of parents, siblings or peers. In other words, their nature is to lie to protect themselves. This, they need to be taught, is categorically wrong. (In their limited minds, this is not an issue. Better that it be an "absolute" to them than a "gray area". They should be taught not to lie. Period.) But as we grow into adults, we should gain from our adult understanding how God expects us to live and love each other; that sometimes for the protection of others, a lie may be permitted and desirable.
Note, however, that I said "we should gain from our adult understanding how God expects us to live." We only grow in our understanding if we keep our noses in Torah, and actually learn from Scripture what it has to offer regarding how we should live and love each other. If we don't spend time with God, learning HIS ways, then from whom are we learning? I'll tell you! We would learn from our peers and our community, that's where. And sadly, when we learn from the community instead of from YHWH, we learn their godless ways and we put ourselves at risk of learning bad traits and habits which go against the teaching and instruction, i.e., Torah, of our creator. So spend time in Scripture in coming to know YHWH, and you will learn when it may be permitted in your particular situation to lie - if it is necessary. It remains a gray area, but YHWH will permit you to make the right choice at the time.