Would You Lie to Save a Life
Love Will Find a Way Home
Would You Lie to Save a Life?
Love Will Find a Way Home:
A Theology on the Ethics of Love
In 1968, Commander Lloyd Bucher and the USS Pueblo were pirated on the high seas. They were held captive for 11 months, and Bucher was forced to sign a confession – forced to lie to save the lives of his men.
How does Love impact that decsion in a Christian theology?
Love makes the world go round. Without Love, little else has value this side of heaven. In this dilemma between Love and Truth, Love was chosen over Truth, but not at the expense of all Truth. Between the deontological and teleological elements, time itself comes into play in the determination of the absolute "rightness" of the choice in perfect Love. How is as capable as Jesus was and is today?
The course of Love is a sacred "stewardship of time" that is the highest exhibition of the Christian’s own Imago Dei or image of God granted to us in creation. When we are able to follow the Scarlet Thread of obedience perfectly, it will lead straight through all of (1) the areas of complexity, uniting (2) all of the demands of all of the absolutes and run dead center between (3) all of the ethical fine lines. These three areas are detailed specifically.
Would You Lie to Save a Life?
Love Will Find a Way Home –
A Theology on the Ethics of Love
The fuller picture of Bucher’s dilemma exacerbates the pressure on Bucher, increases the predictability of the outcome and significantly forces Bucher’s "ethical" options.
This also places us where we need to be – at that small window of time where the crisis peaks. This small window is that spectrum of time in which a very pressured decision has to be made within a small spectrum time: that spectrum begins at the point of cold and callous calculation and ends at the point where the decision is made. It is in this small window and in situations like this around which the most basic questions and purposes of ethics revolve. Within this small window, somewhere, is placed the weary phrase "borderline dilemma," that actually serves to distract rather than to define. Bucher is in a borderline situation where he does have to choose between two options, but the use of the term does force us to look at the situation as a dilemma between "two choices" and less as a crisis with clear temporal perimeters: a window with a definite spectrum of points of concern.
The Element of "Time."
Love comprehends that past, the present, and the future, all at the same time. To determine the "rightness" of a choice, then, one has to be able to fully determine more than the moment's notice of Truth and Love, but one has to also look at consequences. God judges the entire house, not just the small window. Inside of that window a "borderline" of sorts does exist, like the fine strands of a Black Widow spider web – hard to see, waiting to sting and ominous. There is within the small window a borderline, just not an actual border that is clear, not an actual border that forces us to choose between two absolutes: no actual conflict exists between absolutes of Love and Truth. Within the small window, there is a spider web that appears to demarcate lines in the air, that makes the appearance between two absolutes stand out. Just like a spider web, there are sticky and dangerous areas centering on a kind of borderline in the small window.
Abraham, Rahab and the Hebrew midwives give example of this. Not so much the constricting element of "time" itself, not so much the "length" of the time, not just the small window in and of itself – but God judges "how" the person used that small window of time and how that wounded soldier discerned and negotiated the "borderline" that floats around in that window’s opening, intractable and divisive. Within that small window of time for a person like Bucher and others in horrendously complicated moral dilemmas there is an entire universe of issues, many common to all humans and many more issues unique to the unique person and unique to that small window, as unique as every spider web is to every other spider web.
In the delicate task of pastoral care, we ourselves are to some extent called upon to sift as many of those unique issues as we are able. Ultimately speaking, in order to be conscientiously thorough, our "ethical" obligation is to sift the whole universe of issues. Even though the task is too large to fully detail even for a single person’s decision, as we only meagerly attempt here for the situation in which Bucher and his crew were hijacked, we are called upon to do our best, trusting in God who all along the way will be the final judge of things to come. In the press, we trust that God will be the final and good judge of the literal astronomical universe as well as the more complicated ethical universe of unique lives.
More to the point is this: Dynamic Absolutism adduces that the element of "time" is crucial to the determination of "rightness" in every situation. This is the other side of the coin and the retrospective look at our arguments above on the necessity of teleology. Or said in another way, in looking ahead we must of necessity encounter the teleological as a crucial ingredient in every single "right" choice. If we do not, we deny the significance to faith, hope and Love themselves, all of which point beyond ourselves, beyond our temporal limits to God who has given us the gift of contemplating the future – not just a mere responsibility to the future.
Maness grew up in Southern California and migrated to Texas in 1972. After a short stint in the U.S. Air Force, Maness earned a B.A with a double major in Bible and Counseling at the Criswell Bible College from 1978 to 1985. This was a time of dire poverty and much struggle. He went on to earn a M.Div. with languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth in 1990, 1,600 hours of clinical from the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education at Shannon Hospital in San Angelo in 1992, became certified as a Suicide/Crisis Intervention Counselor for MHMR in the Concho Valley in 1991, and a D.Min. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 1997.
He has received specialized training with the Texas Dept. of Human Services in Child Protective Services and with Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in Cultural Diversity, Safe Prisons crisis intervention program, and in TDCJ’s Post Trauma Staff Support team.
He has traveled throughout the United States and to several countries including Belgium, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.
He is the Senior Clinical Chaplain at the Gib Lewis Texas State Prison and a Certified Correctional Chaplain with the American Correctional Chaplains Association. He is also a member of the American Correctional Association, Lions Club International, the Evangelical Theological Society, and several other state and national organizations.
He has written on a large variety of topics, both published and unpublished, and much of the work of his pen can be seen at his web site:
His interests focus on matters that affect the heart...the precious heart.
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