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Morality Depends on the Situation?

A friend of mine states that his life is guided by ‘situational ethics’. What is that? Let’s answer this question with a basic understanding of where our ‘morality’ comes from. There’s three basic viewpoints; 1)absolutism, 2)Nihilism, and 3)relativism. Absolutism states that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong, and this concept comes from the Bible. Nihilism says that God does not exist, and we can do anything we want, with no rules whatsoever. Relativism promotes that human morality depends on the current circumstance, so the man/woman decides for themselves what is right or wrong, depending on the situation.


It’s difficult for me to understand how ‘religious’ people subscribe to the philosophy of ‘situational ethics’, and maintain a clear conscience. Some religious folks even believe that the Bible permits their philosophy of situational ethics, and they use two references; the eating of the showbread by David’s men (I Sam. 21:6), and Rahab (Joshua 2).


Brother Jackson (CC, 1999) had an excellent article on this topic years ago, and he discussed the underlying dilemma in trying to justify ‘religious situational ethics’, as well as covering the two previous references. I want to discuss both of these references used by supporters of religious SE (situational ethics), in an effort to see whether or not situational ethics is actually supported and confirmed by the Bible.


David and the showbread: did Jesus affirm SE in this instance (Matthew 12:1-8)? The Bible states that Jesus and his disciples ate grain from a field, and the Pharisees charged them with breaking the Sabbath regulation under Moses’ law, but the only law they transgressed was the uninspired traditions of the Jews (Jackson, CC, ’99). Jesus responded by pointing out that the Jewish leaders never condemned David, and David actually broke Mosaical Law (Matt. 12:4), but those same leaders accused Jesus’ disciples of sin, when the only thing they did wrong was to violate human tradition. Jesus, through his argument, pointed out the hypocrisy of the Jews who were making the accusations! What about Rahab the Harlot? SE supporters cite the case of Rahab in defense of their position. Does Rahab’s case support SE? Let’s look; Rahab is praised twice in the New Testament (Heb. 11:31; James 2:25). Rahab was a harlot (prostitute; whore), and she lied to save Israel’s spies. Supporters of SE make the claim that she lied, then was commended for her lie, thus proving support for their position.


First, God condemns liars (Rev. 21:8), and it wasn’t Rahab’s lie that was condoned (Jackson, CC, ’99). Hebrews 11:31 states that Rahab received the Israelite spies with peace, but it does not advocate her method, nor does it justify SE. James 2:25, the other reference to Rahab being praised, refers to her justification by works, because she received the spies and sent them out another way (to safety). Again, the passage does not approve of her lies; Rahab is praised for her acceptance and cooperation with the Jews as her demonstration of faith in Jehovah God. Neither of these cases affirm, support, or advocate SE.


People choose to be guided by SE (situational ethics) when they either know not God, or they reject the absolute truths of the Holy Bible. What is your guide?


Source: Internet




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