Jesus and Moral Dilemmas

I’m in the middle of a class now dealing with Ethical Decision Making. Through dealing with the course material and writing brilliant papers, a thought occurred to me – and whenever that happens, I think it’s important to write those thoughts down.

Jesus faced situations which would have presented moral difficulties for other people. He healed people on the Sabbath Day, which was a violation of his Jewish law. He picked grain in a field with his disciples because they were hungry (unfortunately, they got hungry on a Sabbath Day, which made picking grain against the law).

He also faced a woman whose adultery put her in a position to receive capital punishment, and the religious leaders were waiting for Jesus’ decision on the matter. Did he struggle with the dilemma – put her to death or don’t put her to death?

In all three of these examples, there is no indication that Jesus struggled with the moral dilemmas invovled. He recognized that while the laws of the Sabbath were applicable and important, the laws of compassion and mercy were more important. Making the choice to heal or not, or to pick grain or not, didn’t seem to be a struggle. The choices seemed obvious to him, and he even criticized the religious leaders for not understanding.

For the adulterous woman, he acknowledged that she was a sinner, and then rather than insisting on the penalty the law demanded (death), he chose to extend mercy instead.

What’s the common thread here?

Like I said, Jesus faced decisions which would have created moral dilemmas for us. But for him, there were no moral dilemmas involved. He didn’t struggle with the decisions. He just simply knew the best decision and made it; partly because of his own Divine nature, but also because of his relationship with his Father. That relationship was so tight and life-giving, it guided his wisdom and decision making processes.

My hope is that as I grow more Christlike in my personality, as my character becomes more like his, and as my passions and desires are consistent with his passions and desires – certain moral dilemmas will no longer be dilemmas. Hopefully my thinking will become clearer, as I learn to think his way. Putting mercy and compassion above religious obligation will become a way of life.

That’s the goal.

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3 Responses to Jesus and Moral Dilemmas

  1. joannmski says:

    Sometimes I think that church members have less grace and mercy for each other than any other group of people. Clearly that’s not our Lord’s way!

  2. Andrew Sturt says:

    I wanted to put a fly in your ear (figuratively, obviously) about the nature of Christian maturity.

    You said, “My hope is that as I grow more Christlike in my personality, as my character becomes more like his, and as my passions and desires are consistent with his passions and desires – certain moral dilemmas will no longer be dilemmas,” and I agree with that sentiment. However, I agree with Joann that it often seems churches are the least safe place to be if you need grace.

    Looking at your blog entry and Joann’s comment together, I think what stands out is a need for corporate maturity, not simply individual maturity. I’ve been spending a LOT of time in Ephesians just recently, and at the heart of that book there is an emphasis on how the church, as the body of Christ, presents and represents Christ. It almost seems as though Paul is saying that our individual maturity is tied to the maturity of the church in a sort of symbiotic relationship.

    Any thoughts?

  3. charleysblog says:

    Thanks Andrew… I agree so much with your idea that individual maturity is tied to corporate maturity. It seems that we can’t obtain one without working on the other.

    It’s interesting that you refer to Joann’s comment… as I recall, she responded to two posts that day, and I think this comment was meant for a different post! But I’m glad I left it where it is, because you’re making a great connection.

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