Moral Dilemmas: Part Two


I started to post another comment on my Conundrums post, but then I realized that most of you probably wouldn't see it, and it was also becoming rather lengthy, so I decided to upgrade into a new post. :)

I've been doing some more thinking (and research) on moral dilemmas (see Conundrum post for my working definition of a moral dilemma.) I listened to a very insightful seminar by Ron du Preez and I'm also in the process of listening to Samuel Pippim's 2005 GYC seminar Faithful Unto Death:Living Holy Lives in the Last Days. Also, and most informatively, I've been turning to the Bible to shed some light on this important and perplexing (to me, at least) issue. Surely God has something to say about moral dilemmas. . .

Well, He does. I haven't gotten very far yet, but I've already come across some interesting stuff. The most striking example so far is when God called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on the mountaintop. To me, this would seem to be the ultimate moral dilemma--a message, presumably from God, apparently directly contravening one of His previous commands not to kill.

Can you imagine that occurring in a modern context?! But, as Brian G. said in a comment on my last post on this topic, "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." Abraham had done that. He pursued such a close relationship with God that he knew Who was speaking to him. He was able to recognize the will of God. That still didn't make it easy for him to make a decision about what to do! Chapter 13 of Patriarchs and Prophets contains a very insightful commentary on Abraham's experience, and I highly recommend it.

There are a lot of things one can learn from this story, but I think the main principle God has shown me from Abraham's experience is Follow the clearly revealed will of God. This obviously has the corollary: understand what the clearly revealed will of God is. I think almost everybody agrees and understands the first principle, but it's the second part where we run into problems. Most of us aren't willing to spend the time with God and in His Word, becoming acquainted with His will which enables us to clearly recognize His guidance in extremely tough circumstances.

I have by no means come to a conclusion on my original question about the existence of true moral dilemmas; indeed, I don't even feel like I really have a good grasp of this first insight. But I'm going to keep searching and looking to God, 'the glorious answer to all my questionings.'

Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."



  1. I have been contemplating the topic of moral dilmmas and agree with what you said about it being so vital to have a close relationship with God. I read in Patriarchs & Prophets the other day something that might be of interest to you. On page 656 it is talking about David and how as a result of his lack of faith the high priest and his family died. If David would have trusted in God and been transparent in what he did, God would have protected him and those around him. So often we try to do things our own way and mess up God's plan. What if Abraham had disobeyed God in that situation?

  2. Your blog looked lonely. I thought I would post a comment to keep it company...

    I have no answers, but I have a thought to share that has to do with Abraham being willing to sacrifice Isaac. In Intro to Linguistics last week we were studying vocal paralanguage. There are two main parts to language- the written text and then everything else, which is known as vocal paralanguage. It includes different cues that tell us about the speaker. For example, you can tell what region someone is from or what nationality they are by listening to their voice. You can also here emotion, sarcasm, and other things. But what I think is one of the most amazing things about vocal paralanguage is the identity cue. It's the cue that states that each person has a unique and recognizable voice. It's the way that we recognize people's voices who are familiar to us. For example, if my mother called me, she wouldn't have to say her name, I would recognize who she was by her voice.

    As I was thinking about this and how amazing it is that we all have uniquely identifiable voices, I thought about the voice of God and how awesome it is that he created us to be able to recognize voices. It's neat that if I spend time with someone and listen to them, I will be able to recognize their voice later without needing to see their face or have them tell me who they are. In the same way, if we talk with God, and especially if we listen to God and the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will learn to recognize his voice before we are even able to see him in heaven one day. And I think that was the key to Abraham knowing that it was God who was asking him to sacrifice his son. He had listened to God's voice for so long that he recognized it and knew to trust it.

  3. hurray, some comments! I was beginning to wonder if I'd scared everybody off!

    Ms. Chispa, I really appreciate you sharing those lines from Patriarchs and Prophets. That explains perfectly one of the moral dilemmas I'd found in the Bible. "God requires that truthfulness shall mark His people, even in the greatest peril." Wow! How much clearer can you get?

    Kristin, thank you for the very cool and very fitting analogy! In the end, that's what it all comes down to, I'm beginning to realize. John 10:27 says something along those lines, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me".

  4. *gasp* as I reread my comment I realized that I spelled "hear" as "here." Oh, the horror!

  5. I don't have a link on your blog.... :'(
    ~overlooked Lorrie

    heehee, did I make you feel guilty?
    Sorry....that wasn't nice :-p

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  7. lorrie, apparently joel doesn't check his comments often...

    And I like the Patriarchs and Prophets reference.

  8. Joel, I hope your break is going well. Mine was pretty crazy with being thrown into the real world/hospital. It was fulfilling though. I hope you are having fun in Europe! God bless.


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