Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Situational Ethics

Monday, February 16, 2009, 0:01
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by Dr. Chuck Baynard

Situational Ethics

Ethics: As a philosophy is the study of human conduct in light of moral principles, which may be viewed as the individuals standard of conduct, or as a body of social obligations and duties. As such we all have a set of ethics which directs how we react to certain situations and how we conduct ourselves. There are those who believe ethics can change according to the situation. In the following stories place yourself in the situation of the main character and decide what you would do.

While as Christians we would hope all agree there is only one right answer to any question under any circumstance, what glorifies God? This is not the case when we find ourselves mixing with the real world where there may be issues that appear to be okay in certain circumstances. As Christians that which is clearly sin is forbidden to us in word or deed. What isn’t sin by direct transgression of the law of God isn’t always permissible for us and here is where situations can appear to be a part of the Christian ethic.

Mary is head over hills in love with Frank. Frank says he is a Christian and attends church with Mary. However Frank drinks and sometimes drinks enough that it affects his behavior. When Mary says anything about drinking Frank gets angry and will not talk to her, often for several days. Mary has decided that since he doesn’t get really drunk, and only drinks too much once in awhile it is okay with her. She decides if it is okay with her, it is really no one else’s business anyway. What would you do? What is the biblical answer?

Janice is in her first year of college and away from home for the first time. She has been at parties where there was alcohol before. In high school she could refuse because she had to go home and her parents would know she had been drinking. She used her non-drinking parents to not have to take part. Now she doesn’t have this excuse and rather than cause a scene or be labeled so she isn’t invited to parties she had decided she will take the drink when offered but will either just sip at it, or not drink it, just have it in her hand so she appears to be drinking with the crowd. Is it okay for Janice to do this? What would you do? What is the biblical answer?

Bubba is on the football team. In the locker room all of the boys seem to use profanity all of the time. Bubba doesn’t like this, but is afraid he will be an outcast if he says anything. Besides saying something will not stop the profanity. He has decided that rather than be labeled and shut out of the group, he will use some little cuss words in the locker room so they don’t come down on him. He rationalizes that he can’t change them, and God will understand if he doesn’t use the big G-word or condemn anyone to hell. Then he can always silently ask God to forgive him when he does use a profane word this way. What would you do? What is the biblical answer?

Alicia has just gotten permission from her parents to go to the beach with several other girls after her high school graduation. Everyone knows (parents included) that most of the high school boys will also be attending this get beach trip. Alicia’s three closest friends with whom she will be staying at the beach have all purchased new bathing suits for the trip. Suits isn’t quite what Alicia would call them, they barely qualify as three large band-aids. Alicia tries the old parents want agree routine to which the reply is they won’t know and one of us will take the bathing suit in our bags. Whether she gets caught or not isn’t the issue as much as Alicia really doesn’t want to expose herself this way at anytime and more especially with boys around. The pressure is really heavy since the other girls have all decided to buy this type of suit and wear them at the beach as sort of a coming out statement.

What would you do?

What is the biblical answer?

What does the word ethics mean to you?

Do you think there is such a thing as a Christian ethic?

How would you handle a situation where someone thought what you were doing was wrong; in other words reverse the above situation and you are the one who wants to do these things and one close friend says no it is wrong to do that? Do you stand your ground or go with the majority as being the standard?

Does the Bible teach ethics in a way that can be applied to every situation we might face?

Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22 NKJV)

[Abstain from all appearance of evil.] Of doctrinal evil. Not only open error and heresy are to be avoided, but what has any show of it, or looks like it, or carries in it a suspicion of it, or may be an occasion thereof, or lead unto it; wherefore all new words and phrases of this kind should be shunned, and the form of sound words held fast; and so of all practical evil, not only from sin itself, and all sorts of sin, lesser or greater, as the Jews have a saying, “take care of a light as of a heavy commandment,” that is, take care of committing a lesser, as a greater sin, and from the first motions of sin; but from every occasion of it, and what leads unto it, and has the appearance of it, or may be suspected of others to be sin, and so give offence, and be a matter of scandal. The Jews have a saying very agreeable to this,

“remove thyself afar off (or abstain) from filthiness, and from everything, “that is like unto it”.”

There are some who want to say this means the things that are actually evil. However as shown in the explanation above, and referring to the Jewish traditions upon which the Bible is based we see more is intended. The actual word in the Greek means countenance or face of, or to be literal looks like. We are not to do anything that would allow another to charge us of ungodly conduct or thought. No situation can change this.

Dr. Baynard is an Associate Editor of the Christian Observer and Senior Pastor at Clover Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Clover, South Carolina


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