Situation Ethics and the Child of God

By Andy Alexander


Situation ethics is a philosophy that teaches that sin may be acceptable, or at least, overlooked by God under certain specific situations. The philosophy says that one may be placed in a situation where he must choose be- tween the lesser of two evils. Those in the secular world would not view either choice as sin, but the child of God would readily see the sin involved. So, the idea facing us as Christians is that we may be placed in a situation in which the only choice we have is to sin or face some horrible, agonizing situation that we deem intolerable.

For example, the abortionist uses situation ethics to convince young, pregnant girls that termination of a fetus (murder of a baby) may be preferable to bringing a baby into a poor, unwanted situation. They portray the life of the baby and mother as being very difficult and disadvantaged and the only viable option is to abort the fetus and try to do better the next time. There are clearly other and better alternatives, but the abortionist has an agenda to promote and he will promote it with whatever lie he has to use in order to further his cause. Abortion is murder and no amount of mental gymnastics will change it (Gen. 9:6). It violates many Bible principles (Matt. 7:12; Rom. 13:9; Mark 12:31).

The idea of euthanasia is promoted by liberals in our society and situation ethics is one of the wicked tools they use to promote it. Sometimes children are subtly taught situation ethics, or values clarification as it is sometimes called, in school at an early age in order to soften them for this sinful practice. A picture is drawn of three people on a deserted island with no food. There is a young man, a middle-aged man, and an elderly man, but no food to support their existence. It is determined that one must die, but who? Obviously, the conclusion they want the young to arrive at is that the elderly must die in order to help the younger generation. He has, according to this theory, lived most of his life and now it would be better for him to die so that the younger might live. What about what God’s word says about murder (Gen. 9:6; Exod. 20:13)? To the situation ethics promoter, it is no longer murder because of the situation these people find themselves in. It is a small step from that island to our old-folks homes and Dr. Kervorkian. If an elderly person gets in the way of a younger person leading a better and easier life, then just remove the older person after determining that such is necessary given the present situation.

God has already determined the way that we should go in any and every situation and he has not given man the authority to change that way based upon any particular situation. It is always wrong to do wrong and right to do right. Choosing the right course may produce hardships, but God has promised to carry us through those hard times (Heb. 13:5-6).

Consider some in Bible times who could have utilized situation ethics to alleviate hardships in their life. Joseph was pressed by Potiphar’s wife to commit fornication (Gen. 39:7-9). From the viewpoint of those promoting situation ethics, Joseph would have been right to commit fornication and avoid offending Potiphar’s wife and going to prison. This is a very subjective doctrine and each man ends up doing what is right in his own eyes based upon the particular situation. Who can say he is wrong if such a doctrine is allowed?

Daniel and his three friends all could claim exemptions from God’s law based upon the extreme positions they found themselves in, but they chose to put their faith in God and do right (Dan. 3:16-18; 6:10). Situation ethics would have taught otherwise!

Stephen was arrested for teaching the truth and in making his defense before those who arrested him, but he continued to teach the truth. This action cost him his life (Acts 6:12- 14; 7:51-60). Situation ethics would allow him to soften his approach, compromise the gospel, and accommodate those listening to him, but faith in God would not allow such!

Situation ethics appeals to human reason and logic, not the Word of God. We do not have to reason about the truth, God has revealed it (John 8:32). Whatever situation we find ourselves in, we can trust that God will provide a way of escape that will not cause us to sin (1 Cor. 10:32). We should teach people to trust and obey, not analyze the situation and determine if sin should be committed or would a sinful action be allowed under the given circumstances.

Some preachers are theorizing that we may be placed in situations where sin must be chosen or where we must choose between the lesser of two evils. They use, or misuse would be a better term, Old Testament examples and comments from worldly men as their source of authority. The Bible records the errors of many people in the Old Testament without commenting on God’s approval of their actions. We must not use these situations as justification for transgression. Let us have faith in God, always do right, and trust that God will deliver.

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Author: jfm

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