An Idea Borrowed

Years ago on a radio program someone shared that they read a chapter in Proverbs every day. Since there are 31 chapters and the longest month has 31 days it allows you to read through Proverbs on a regular basis. I use it as the launch pad for my personal worship time and branch out from there. On this blog I will try to share some of the insights I have in the Word. I will try to organize them in the archive by reference.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Situational Ethics and Mere Christianity

(Romans 1:19 KJV) Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

Today I am reading in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. In the first chapter he talks about the Law of Nature. He explains that this used to mean the Law of Human Nature not the Laws of Physical Science as it is used today. He is making the point that people down through history and in all cultures and centuries have had a basic sense of right and wrong. It might be interpreted different but it was there. For instance, murder is always wrong. Different times might define murder differently, but all would agree there is a type of killing that is wrong. In the book, Lewis is not into heavy Bible quoting but, if he were, he would include this verse.

My mind wandered as he used natural law and gravity as an example of forces that can’t be ignored. I began to think about how often in life decisions are not easy. So often we are dealing with shades of grey instead of black and white. We have to settle for good instead of best. You may remember a book called Situation Ethics. The author argued that all is relative. Not so. Moral law is like physical law. Rarely does one law work by itself. Again let’s look at the law of gravity and an airplane flying. When an airplane starts down the runway, gravity does not go away so it can take off. Other laws kick in. There is something called Bernoulli’s Principle. It states, if my memory is correct, that the faster a fluid moves the lower the air pressure. Since an airplane wing is shaped to make the top surface longer than the bottom, the air going over the top travels further in the same time as the air on the bottom, thus forcing it to go faster. This creates lift and when the lift is stronger than the pull of gravity, take-off occurs.

Get the idea? One law does not go away or get ignored but can be overcome by another law if the circumstances are just right. Thus a Dutch citizen can lie to a Nazi searching for Jews and be doing the right thing. Lying is not right but the need to protect innocent life trumps it in that situation. For believers this can be a slippery slope but to live a life of holiness demands our minds as well as our hearts and souls.

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