Moral Dilemmas

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When I was in college I was drawn to the study of secular philosophy. In fact I majored in it. I went to graduate school to study Ethics because I wanted to learn enough about it to maybe teach and write about it someday.

Let’s just say I didn’t remain in that line of work. (Another story for another day.)

It’s been quite a while since I thought about the ethical dilemmas that provided fodder for Contemporary Moral Problems classes. I didn’t like teaching Contemporary Moral Problems and tried my best to avoid it.

Since the approach to philosophy that I studied (and – briefly – taught) was secular, it was considered a non-answer to the, “What would you do?” question to say that you’d pray about it.

I was not a Christ-follower back then.

But nowadays, as a Christ-follower, it’s interesting to revisit some of those secular ethical dilemmas and ask myself, “Okay, now I’d pray about it – but would I really be able to completely surrender to God’s will … even if His answer is hard to swallow?”

Here’s an example of those kinds of ethical dilemmas:

Drowning Swimmer

Suppose your daughter and her friend went swimming and got caught in a strong rip current. You hear their screams, and you are a strong swimmer, so you dive into the water to rescue them. The current is stronger and far more dangerous than you realized.

Should you …

* Save your daughter’s friend first because she is a poor swimmer and won’t be able to keep her head above water as long as your daughter will?

* Save your daughter first because you don’t know if she’ll be able to last until you can get back to her, and she is your own child. You couldn’t bear to see her swept away while you helped someone else’s child.

Okay, so now as a Christ-follower I’d say a quick prayer as I jump into the water. “Lord please help me … your will be done…”

But is my faith really strong enough to turn over my efforts in this horrible situation to God’s will, whatever that may be? What if God delivers the other child into my arms to rescue but I see the anguished look on my daughter’s face as she realizes that I’m going to rescue her friend rather than her? Can I live with that being the last time I see my daughter alive?

Do I really trust God enough not to insert my own will in place of His?

I’ve been studying the Book of Job with my Bible study buddy this summer. That must be what’s causing me to think about such things.

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