I attended a seminar on ethics today, gathering my CEU’s for this round of licensing renewal. Six hours of listening to a very well-educated, well-intentioned woman talking about how to figure out what is right and wrong. There are lots of times when, in my profession, we really don’t have a clear black/white right/wrong situation, and we have to do our best to mediate a solution that is best for everyone involved, while causing the least harm.
Where I choke and have a really hard time being quiet is when the issue presented could have been avoided completely if the person involved had simply lived according to biblical principles. I grew up in a simpler time. All the shadings of gray between right and wrong were a lot easier to resolve in my early years, because we lived by a system of absolutes. Not any more.
Example: A man is deployed overseas. Before he leaves, he and his wife have a conversation in which he makes it clear that unfaithfulness is something he couldn’t tolerate, and he’d probably “do away with” an unfaithful wife. Sooooo she has an affair while he’s gone and comes up HIV positive. The ethical dilemma? Whether or not to tell her husband. Will he truly kill her? Does the therapist this wife is talking with have an ethical responsibility to tell or not to tell? Isn’t the life of the soldier in danger if he doesn’t know she has HIV? Doesn’t he have a right to know what he’s risking? But if the wife or the therapist tell the soldier his wife was unfaithful, he might kill her!
What to do, what to do??
And I’m sitting there thinking, “DUH!” This kind of “ethical dilemma” would not exist if the wife had simply chosen–yes, chosen–to stay true to her spouse. Millions of other wives have managed to do that down through the history of warfare. She chose not to honor him with faithfulness, and now she’s in a really awful mess. And what makes it worse, in my mind, is that she’s looking for a way out! Is she worried about protecting her spouse from HIV or herself from a very unpleasant, possibly dangerous, confrontation?
Well, but (you say) you don’t know the circumstances! Maybe she just was so lonely blahblahblah. Baloney. We make choices in our lives, and those choices ALWAYS carry consequences. After the affair is too late to be worried about getting caught, getting HIV. Now she needs to figure out how to be honest with her husband without getting herself murdered–which, by the way, is not an okay choice for her husband.
There are so many things wrong here that it’s amazing we only spent a few–unprofitable–minutes discussing it. NO ONE said, “Well, she should have never committed adultery!” It was just taken as a given that “these things happen” and you have to figure out how to go forward from there.
We are not teaching absolute rights and wrongs any more, and as a result we’re in an absolute mess.
Psalm 118:8. “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”
I don’t know which Bob Jones said it: Do right because it’s right to do right! Sure makes life simpler.