Is the Right Thing the “Right” Thing ?

Categories: Brother to Brother.

Jul 21, 2015 // By:Dave // No Comment

helping-hands-logoThe hard decisions are often easy to discern, just inconvenient …

When it comes to figuring out what to do and when to do it, the issue (when we really get down to it). is rarely not knowing the right thing to do …  the issue is the cost of doing what we know is the “right thing”  right ?!  LOL

 

Here we enter the realm of Ethics

This is where the rubber meets the road realm where God’s truth hits our daily lives and we are expected to drive a car equipped with truth for tires and the world for a road. Traction is required which means that these two (truth and world) are going to have to rub together and engage right down to the details, nooks and crannies for anything to happen.

There is a wonderful essay on christian ethics below for those with lots of time to read. Up here, at the top of this page, let’s keep things simpler and perfectly sized for a “snack”.

What this boils down to is two qualifying questions.

  1. Whose opinion matters to you most (others, yours, or God’s) ? (and if it’s anything but God then you have a priority issue to work out and the sooner the better since only God can offer an absolute value based upon absolute truth)
  2. Who do you want to trust to work out and control the results, rewards, and consequences of you attempt to do what you think is right ? (i.e. doing what you know is wrong just to placate a relative, even your wife, do you really expect your wife or relative to straighten out your mess after you did the wrong thing to make them happy? Again, only God can offer omniscience, omnipotence, love, and justice to work out any detail correctly)

Once you get to the point that God (your creator, the originator of all life, the one who made all the rules for existence) is your top concern, and His opinion of you matters more than anyone else’s, half the battle is won!

Now it’s down the second half … Do you trust Him to take care of you while you are busy doing what He wants you to be doing ?
(do you trust Him to indeed guide your path ?) Psalm 37:23, Proverbs 16:9, Psalms 5:8, Psalms 5:11-12, Psalms 55:22

Honestly guys, I would rather mess things up royally trying to obey God (and let Him sort out my obedience) than do things my way and then either have to sort it myself, or deal with consequences for ungodly choices that God never meant for me to experience.

That’s how God wants us to handle the tough choices .

There’s not much point in asking God to use His word to be a light unto our path if we’re gonna turn and take a different path because that one has nicer rocks to trip on. LOL

 

 

For more pontifications, read on:

Lets compare what happens when we abandon absolute truth and try relative “convenient” truth to determine morality and ethics (compared to absolute truth)

    1. The futility of non-Christian ethics

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Rom. 1:21

      1. Non-Christian ethics has no adequate grounds for authority.

There is no way to go from what “is” to what “ought to be”.

      1. Non-Christian ethics does not have available adequate knowledge to utilize its principles.
      2. The non-Christian cannot live or even think on the basis of such a shaky foundation. Therefore, he is constantly driven to draw upon the reality from which he seeks to flee — God’s creation and God’s image within him and even a Christian-influenced culture — to base his ethical sentiments.

Examples of non God-based ethics inherent  conflicts:

  1. From evolutionary point of view, might makes right, survival of the fittest, etc  meaning evolutionary based ethics translates to do whatever gets you ahead since this is how you got to where you are and exerting power over others maintains survival of the fittest.  Except the next person will apply the same ethics differently since it’s not fair to them when they are losing the “competition”
  2. While selfishness is the motor behind survival of the fittest, Culture never applauds selfishness but condemns it. On the other hand, culture holds selfishness up on a very high pedestal despite the fact that there is no reason to if God is not the source of our life and purpose.
  3. A person will claim the right to make their own laws and self-govern until someone else points out they have the same right and it happens to conflict with something the first person wants to be free to do. (Depending on the differing levels of maturity or responsibility at least one of the two feels obligated to impose his ethics upon the other for sake of fairness, but even in this case who determines what is responsible, fair or mature ?  now we are back to whoever is carrying the biggest stick and we are back to selfish ethics with no absolute, changing and drifting to suite the needs, wants or even moods of the enforcer)
    1. Christian ethics is grounded in the nature of God as it relates to his creation.
      1. The standard flows from God’s nature.

1 Peter 1:15-16

      1. The requirement of perfection flows from God’s nature.

Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Hab 1:13

      1. Like God himself, ethical principles reflect co-ultimate particularity and universality. In both cases, the particulars complement rather than compete with one another or with the universals.
    1. Ethical obligation flows from our relationship to God as our creator and owner.

Rom. 9:20-21

This obligation is strengthened by redemption — 1 Cor. 6:20

    1. Knowledge of ethics comes by revelation.
      1. Nature (both internal and external) – Rom. 1:17-23, Rom. 2:14-15
        • common grace
        • borrowed capital
      2. Scripture – 2 Tim. 3:16-17

Scripture speaks with greater clarity than nature.

    1. The agony of ethical dilemmas is a result of the fall.
      1. Sin and blindness create confusion about ethical obligations.

Rom. 3:10-11

      1. The curse creates unwanted consequences of our choices.

Rom. 5:12

Rom. 5:19

Rom. 8:20,22

    1. Testing the options –

No Absolutes

      1. Relativism – logically impossible to live with

One Absolute

      1. Situation ethics – “Always do the most loving thing.”

How can we know what is most loving? How can we criticize the action of others? How can we define justice in this context? This approach denies that there are non-negotiable particulars to expressing love. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jn. 14:15)

      1. Kant’s categorical imperative – “An action is ethical only if I can with consistency will it to be universally acted upon.”

There is an implied set of values behind this. What does it mean to will “with consistency?” Thus, some hidden absolutes are being brought in. Furthermore, the only logical basis for this norm would be this norm. Thus, it is circular.

      1. Utilitarianism – “Do that which will bring about the greatest good.”

As with situation ethics, it does not give us information for determining what constitutes the greatest good. Furthermore, it forces us to attempt to predict the future, and it can bring great guilt feelings if there are unforeseen consequences to our choices. In essence, it says that the end justifies the means. (Rom. 3:8)

      1. “What would Jesus do?”

This falls prey to many of the same criticisms as situation ethics. Furthermore, it implies that there is a change of standard from Old Testament to New. Also, it ignores the uniqueness of the person and mission of our Lord and Savior.

      1. “Let your conscience be your guide.”

Conscience is merely the faculty of moral judgment. So we should follow our conscience, because that is the faculty that determines what is right and wrong. Our responsibility is to instruct our conscience and then follow it. Conscience can be wrong (1 Cor. 10:29), but we must follow it because to do otherwise is to do that which we have judged to be wrong. (Rom. 14:14)

Many Absolutes

      1. Conflicting absolutism – due to the fall, there are inevitable conflicts in absolutes; therefore, choose the lesser of evils

This implies that sin is unavoidable, but: 1 Cor. 10:13, Heb. 4:15

      1. Graded absolutism (hierarchicalism) – there are real conflicts in absolutes, but they are ordered so that it is not sin to violate a lower one if necessary to keep a higher one. (advocated by Norman Geisler)

This view does not take seriously the fact that ethical absolutes are rooted in God’s nature. Since God’s nature is not self-contradictory, neither are the ethical absolutes that flow from his nature.

There is no conflict between the oneness of God’s essence and the many-ness of his persons. Therefore, there is no conflict between the particulars and the universals of ethics.

Logically, it reduces to a single absolute absolute that provides the order for the absolutes that really aren’t. Did God give the 10 Ascending Priorities?

It takes a lazy approach to the ethical questions raised by historical portions of Scripture.

One/Many Absolutes

      1. Unqualified absolutism – there are many absolutes that do not conflict when properly understood, all of which find their unity in supreme love to God and love to neighbor as self. (Augustine, Charles Hodge, John Murray)

It alone does justice to the one/many, non-contradictory nature of God.

It is founded in the revelation of Scripture and especially the greatest commandment and the Ten Commandments.

It does not force man to be omniscient but forces him to rely on God and his revelation for what is the greatest good, how to love in the highest sense, etc.

It teaches that there is no ultimate conflict between our duty and our happiness.

It requires both biblical actions and biblical motives (the highest being love). This is why the apostle can say, “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:8)

  1. Resolving ethical dilemmas
    1. Because of the fall, some right choices have agonizingly difficult consequences.
    2. Some dilemmas are only hypothetical.
    3. Some dilemmas spring from faulty hermeneutics.
    4. Positive duties are generally regarded to be stewardships that must be pursued within the bounds set up by biblical prohibitions.
    5. We must fully avail ourselves of the means of wisdom – particularly God’s appointed teachers in the church – to help us see clearly in difficult decisions.

 in His service, Dave Cadieux

About Dave

Browse Archived Articles by Dave

Related

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.