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Friday, October 23, 2009

Situational Ethics

Have you ever had, as a Christian, one of those “sticky situations? You want to do the right thing. But there appear to be two sides to the dilemma. Things are not always black or white but seem to fall into some kind of grey area.

What’s appropriate just doesn’t seem to be very clear. What’s really going on? How should we, as Christ-followers, respond to that?

First, let’s define the character and nature of a dilemma. A dilemma is a problem where there are at least two choices we can make. It is often a situation where you are not sure what is right or wrong --- or what is more right or more wrong.

When considering what God’s Word says about any particular subject, we sometimes find commandments that can give us clear direction. But in other cases we may need to search deeper into the Scriptures. Where there are no clear commandments, there are still many principles, not often clear without careful study. Occasionally God’s Word may even appear to be completely silent on a certain subjects.

So what are we to do? I think the best answer is that we are not to give up looking for the right answer. God is all-knowing. He has an answer for every single question that life can muster. His Spirit can lead every single decision that humanity might ever have to make. This is what’s true about the situation of any dilemma.

So we need to ask, to seek, to listen and to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We may need to discuss it with other Christians who are more mature than we are … who can help lead us to the answers in Scripture or to pray with us for the Spirit’s leading. God doesn’t leave us empty-handed when it comes to the dilemmas that life throws at us.

Let’s look at some examples. Would it be okay for …

... a Christian Lawyer to enter a “not guilty” plea for a criminal he knows is guilty?
... a Christian flight attendant to serve liquor?
... a Christian purchasing agent to take gifts from suppliers?
... a Christian Doctor to sign an insurance form for a patient he knows is not valid?
... a Christian working at a bar or casino?
... a Christian to go into a bar, tavern or lounge to witness for Christ?
... a Christian to pay taxes, knowing some goes to unethical, unbiblical practices?
... a Christian to voluntarily enlist to serve in a war and fight?
... a Christian giving to a poor person regardless of why they are poor?
... a Christian to be a business partner with a non-Christian?
... a Christian to lie if human life is in danger?
... a Christian to withhold his or her tithe if the church were squandering the money?

Let us consider this subject by asking ourselves some questions with a teachable Spirit and with careful study of Bible scripture. While the Bible doesn’t speak specifically of casinos or gentlemen’s clubs, or drinks on an airline – it does provide us with a wealth of Scriptures that form the context on which these kinds of dilemmas can be evaluated.

1 Cor. 10:23-31 Does this activity edify myself or another believer? Does this activity bring glory to God? Could this cause give Christ a bad name, since we are ambassadors and representatives of Christ, everything we do is often seen by others as a reflection of Christ, bringing reproach on Him, the Church and body of Christ.

1 Cor. 6:12 Though it may be lawful for me, I need to ask myself if this activity is spiritually beneficial or is this activity enslaving to me?

1 Cor. 8:7-13 Does this activity defile my conscience? Could this activity hinder the growth of a fellow believer? Could I cause another brother to stumble, if so I would be better not to be involved in something that could affect a brother. They may have a weaker conscience. It could cause them to believe this is OK and even get themselves involved in something much more worse. For another it could divisions and disunity between brothers that could affect the whole body of Christ.

We often find ourselves in perplexing situations and it seems that being able to discern what's right and what's wrong is very evasive. But the good Lord has provided all of the wisdom we need to develop that kind of discernment. Using His Word as our moral compass, we can find our way through any kind of sticky situation that life can throw at us!

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