This is a question which has been going round in my head for a couple of weeks now. I know I've asked a couple of you prospective readers about this already, but I wanted to get feedback from a larger audience (and I thought it might encourage you to verbalize your ponderings John ;)

So, without further ado

Are there ever truly moral dilemmas for a Christian? (By moral dilemma, I mean a situation in which one would be forced to choose the lesser of two evils.)

I could elaborate but I don't want to limit the scope of the discussion, so I'll refrain from examples. I'm sure you can think of a couple.

Any and all comments are welcome!



  1. Would you stand by if one of your friends was being raped? Suppose I had a fire poker on hand. I might ram the poker into the attacker's mouth, or take a swing at the base of his neck. I would do whatever it took to take that guy down. If he died, he was asking for it.
    A common stance is that we should pray and let God assume responsibility if faced with an apparent moral delimma. But stop and think about it. Are we supposed to recieve direct commands from God on every aspect of our lives?
    I beleive that God can and does communicate with us directly. I believe that God can and does intervene directly in dire circumstances. However, I believe we make the right decisions when we are so connected to Jesus that our decisions are a natural outworking of a deep, transformative relationship. In a relationship, individuality is respected, and independant decisions must be made.
    Perhaps the locus of debate should be on the difference between decision and choice. I'd like to apply a subtle difference: a choice is an act of the will alone, but a decision is an act of will based on evidence evaulated by reason. I believe our relationship to God is built on decision, not choice.

  2. http://atsjats.org/site/1/podcast/eschatology_07_preez_ethics.mp3

  3. Hmmm… echoes of Christian Ethics class. I don’t know the answer Joel, but I know from personal experience that many apparent moral dilemmas evaporate when I place the consideration of selfish gain aside. However, like the picture on your post, sometimes we are between a rock and a hard place, and perhaps God has led us there.
    I am weeks behind in the Adult Sabbath School lesson (although I doubt my cradlerollers mind), and this morning I read in the Lesson Comments that “they fail to see that God is testing them by bringing them into strait places, from which there is no deliverance
    except by his hand…” The question is not “are there moral dilemmas,” but rather, “Will God deliver me if I decide to follow him?” However, this question is based on the knowledge that deliverance is not always based on physical deliverance. Is not the preservation of our relationship with God and spiritual health more important? Can we not, trusting His plan, allow the outward man to perish that the inward man will be renewed day by day?

  4. Barry: I've discussed most of my feelings on this with you in person, so I'm not going to reproduce all of my ponderings here. I will say that as much as I would wish there was a nice, be-all end-all answer, I don't think one exists, at least not that I am aware of. As long as our intent and our prayer is to glorify God and to let His will be done and we submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit, then I think God will accept our offering. I'm not completely satisfied with my understanding of the issues surrounding this concept quite yet, but where better to turn for true clarity than the Sourcebook. I'll keep you updated on my study:)

  5. Thomson: Thanks for the link, I look forward to many hours of informative listening!

  6. Kelsey: I guess that's the real question: how can we turn an interesting intellectual exercise into something with experiental value? (This seems to be a recurring theme, huh?)

  7. For once, I basically agree with Barry:-)
    Most moral dilemmas are disguised lifeboat fallacies. In fact, all of them all. We are never caught between two options. Sarte would say that we can always choose suicide. King David would say we can always choose to act insane.
    However, there are situations in which even the best choices seem to be evil in some way.
    I don't totally buy situation ethics and I'm generally a non-consequencialist but as Solomon once pointed out, there is a time for just about everything. In Barry's example, I don't think there is anything evil about beating up an attempted rapist.

    Sam Pipim has a lot to say on this question. I don't agree with most of his examples (lifeboat problems) but his general point is that surrender to God helps us recognize false dilemmas and steers us through true ones.

    (sorry I got in on this so late)

  8. What did Jesus do in "moral delimmas"?

  9. I know that Ellen White makes the statement that whenever there seems no way to do what is right, If you sincerely desire to do what is right then God will make a way. (something to that effect. I don't remember where it is found). Now living this out in practicality is another thing, not for God, but for us. God has proven faithful in small situations like this in my life. I know that in larger situations He will also be faithful although I don't know how.

    One more thought. Does God himself ever come up against a moral dillema. God always does what is right, but God does do some things that seem to us as the lesser of two evils.

    Most important of all we must submit our reasoning and decisions to the Holy Spirit in small things so that in larger situations there will be no question in our mind of what God's will is.

  10. Excellent point Brian. I agree that if you get into the habit of listening to the to the promptings of the Holy Spirit about "little" things, then when a tough situation comes up, you will be sensitive to His leading. This sounds like excellent advice for surviving in a world of moral dilemmas!


Sorry - I was getting too many spam comments so I turned on moderation. As long as you're not a bot or a troll, I'll approve your comment :)