Monday, December 08, 2014

The Christian's Freedom of Making Moral Choices Without Fear

Let’s have a thought experiment…

Imagine that you are a government secret agent tasked on protecting the city from a terrorist attack.  You were able to capture the terrorist.  Unfortunately, he was able to hide, arm, and start the timer on the bomb before he was caught.  The nuclear bomb can explode at any second, and there’s no time to evacuate the city.  The only way to save the city, particularly the millions of lives in it, is to extract the information of the location of the bomb from the terrorist.  However, the terrorist is an extreme fanatic; he has no fear of dying and won’t be broken by torture.   On the other hand, you got your hands on the terrorist’s family – who have no idea what the husband/father/terrorist was into – and there is a good chance that he will give you the location of the bomb if you torture his wife and children instead.  Will you do it?  To save millions of lives, is torturing the innocent wife and children the right thing to do?

The thought-provoker above is called the “Ticking Time Bomb Scenario” – a thought experiment on the morality of torture (this has been constantly explored in the TV series 24).  It’s a complex moral dilemma that we definitely don’t want to encounter.

In our actual lives, we probably don’t have dilemmas that are as complicated as the “Ticking Time Bomb Scenario”, but we are nonetheless put in situations where making the right choice is difficult, for we don’t know what the right choice is.  Moral or ethical choices are not always about picking between the “black” and the “white.”  There are times that it is hard to determine which is “black” or “white”, or if there’s actually a “black” and a “white” at all. 

Of course, as Christians, we need to consciously pursue the right thing and what will glorify God the most.  The guidance of the Holy Spirit and the instructions of the Word of God help us in choosing.  But there will be times that we fail to discern the Holy Spirit’s guidance and can’t comprehend what the Word’s instructions are.  We are human after all.  We fall.  We make fool of ourselves.  We make mistakes.  That is simply part of the Christian journey.  Until we get to Heaven and have glorified bodies, we still need to endure the difficulties of the battlefield of Christian life.  Which includes the complexity of moral struggles. 
Fortunately, we Christians are under God’s grace.  Though we aren’t free yet from undergoing these complex moral battles, we however have been given freedom to engage in these battles without fear of the results.   Our sins – past, present, and future – are forgiven.  Thus, we will no longer receive condemnation if we ever made the wrong choice. 

It doesn’t mean we should just impulsively make choices without seeking God’s will.  Or still make the wrong choice when we already know it’s the wrong one.  Again, we should consciously pursue the right thing and what will glorify God the most.  If we are convicted by the Spirit that a particular choice is a wrong one or would dishonor God, why still proceed to choose it?  The freedom of making moral choices, like all other aspects of God’s grace, should never be abused, but treasured and esteemed.

God understands our limitations.  We should just do our best in carrying on the purpose of our existence: bringing glory to God.  If we ever err in our choices and methods, let it be out of ignorance or unintended blunder, and NOT deliberately.  There might still be earthly consequence that may arise from these mistakes we made, but God’s mercy is likely to shield us from most of it, and, most importantly, there will be no eternal judgment that will be passed on us.

I still don’t know what I will precisely do if I get into complex moral dilemmas like the “Ticking Time Bomb Scenario.”  But by God’s grace, I know I can make a choice without fear. 

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