The Prophets of Situational Morality


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Prophets of Situational Morality  Ó2006, 2007 TMRobinson

The Rise of Situational Morality

If your favorite Christian leader were put into the difficult circumstance of either endorsing a man who would assuredly murder the minister’s oldest child, or endorsing a man who would surely murder all the minister’s children, would you hope that your Christian champion would protest both men and not endorse either situation?  Would you hope that the minister’s family would encourage him to stand righteously regardless of the consequences, like the Christian martyrs of old?  Because supporting either evil would bring repercussions so close to home, most religious leaders would rebel at such a dilemma and fight back.  However, would it surprise you to learn that when the stakes are further away from home, affecting someone that they have never met, most conservative religious leaders will choose to vote for one murderer over another in the name of love?  If you think such is not taking place in fundamental, conservative, evangelical or pro-life circles, then think again.


In 1966, an Episcopal priest, Joseph Fletcher, battled against fixed laws made to be obeyed at all times (legalism) and also against the idea that one’s ethics are spontaneous, having no fixed moral principles (antinomianism).  Thus, he proposed a method to navigate between the two opposing views.  Rather than rules, Fletcher proposed a key principle with which to guide moral decision-making: the goal to act in the most loving way, or as contemporary ministers often propose, to act to bring about “the greatest good.”  To promote his newfound love, Fletcher published Situation Ethics in which he stated, “The morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed.”  In other words, the rationale or situation that guided a person to willfully commit an act must always be considered before you can determine whether the deed was good or evil.


During the 1970’s and early 80’s, evangelical fundamentalists were known for strongly preaching against situational ethics, but their sermons often confused situational ethics with moral relativism.  Situational ethics does not say whether or not universal truths exists, but only that the state of the system at the time of the act must be considered when deciding if the action was morally justified.  On the contrary, moral relativism boldly declares that there is no universal moral truth and that one perspective is never more valid than another.  For example, a moral relativist would never point to the bible as being uniquely authoritative on morality, because moral relativists think that all moral viewpoints are equally valid.  Because most preachers did not understand the difference between situational ethics and moral relativism, many thought they were speaking out against situational ethics, but what they were actually protesting was moral relativism.  While misunderstanding the real threat, many Christian leaders who feared that situational ethics would lead to moral relativism have nonetheless been seduced by at least one tenant of situational ethics.


One part of God’s character is no less good or less binding than any another part of His character.  Previous chapters described absolute morality as emanating from the moral essence of God, and thus true absolute moral laws do not conflict amongst themselves.  Like the description of God as the father of lights in whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning (James 1:17), God’s absolute character cannot be graduated, split, fractionalized, or its absolute morals arraigned into a hierarchy (This is why God’s moral commands are absolute).  Of course, God has also issued mala prohibita decrees and such decrees have a hierarchy in their application that can give rise to conflict between them.  In contrast, mala in se laws regarding morality do not conflict among themselves because they are based upon God’s moral character.  Again, the lack of moral conflict is because God’s moral essence is a uniform, absolute value that cannot be graduated or fractionalized to make one part more good or less binding than another part.  In future chapters, it will be explained how both mala prohibita and mala in se laws can be found in biblical law and that not recognizing this fact has caused many Christians to refer to some laws or commands as being moral commands when, in fact, they are not.  This is also one reason why some theologians think God’s moral laws conflict among themselves or are arranged into a hierarchy: they are mistaking some laws as being moral laws when they are not. 


Compounding this mistake of thinking some precepts are moral commands when they are not, many theologians also define some moral commands into something they were not intended to encompass.  As such, they will then see a conflict of moral value when there is actually no such conflict.  For example, if a fire traps someone in a house and you happen to notice that the yard next door to the fire has a fireman’s axe sitting on display for a weekend garage sale, it is not theft for you to take the neighbor’s axe without permission to help free the person trapped by the fire.  Theft is the wrongful usurpation of someone else’s property to fulfill some personal lust.  Though the action of taking the axe may look like theft to some, the act is not theft (By “act,” it is meant as “an action precipitated by a particular intent.”  It will be explained in detail later that criminal law does acknowledge the spiritual component of an act when it comes to determining the motive behind an action).  Another example is that when a married couple agrees to commit the conjugal act of marriage, this act is not considered rape or fornication though both actions may look similar and both can result in conception.  Therefore, even though the perception of sexual intercourse derives its defining attributes from the situation in which it occurs, such as the act of marriage versus the act of rape, no circumstance can justify the act of rape because the moral value of rape is always evil, regardless of any other consideration and despite the physical similarities between the two different acts.  This is because rape encompasses a mala in se crime that offends God’s character and moral law.   


While not understanding the differences between the two basic types of law pronounced by God, some apologeticists have proposed a hybrid means of explaining biblical mandates called “graded or graduated absolutism.”  Graded absolutists believe that one part of God’s morality can actually stand in opposition to practicing some other part if provoked by a crisis situation.  Two branches fall under the label of graded absolutism: conflicting absolutism (J.I. Packer, J.W. Montgomery) which states that during a conflict you must do what is humanly right by committing a moral wrong (choosing the lesser of two evils); and hierarchical or contextual absolutism (Norman Giesler, J.J. Davis) which argues that you must follow the highest moral command out of two conflicting moral commands (choosing a greater good).  This second view does not see a lesser evil but rather it transforms an evil act into a good act, thus limiting the chance that something can truly be evil in and of itself. 


Graded absolutists may say they believe in God’s absolute morality, but they have changed the meaning of absolute morality into something pliable, able to bend in different directions depending upon the situation at hand.  As a result of this skewed or confused view on biblical laws and God’s decrees, many of today’s conservative leaders have degenerated into situational moralists.  Rejecting pure moral relativism, they state that God set moral standards and universal truth, revealing them in the bible, but the constitution of those values is guided by the framework of the system in which they find themselves applied.  Change the system or goal and a new verdict on an act could possibly be rendered and excused by carefully chosen biblical texts.  This new-fangled stance among conservative Christian leaders upon situational morality is very different from espousing absolute morality, even though they claim to be using absolute principles.  In effect, situational moralists end up with an unstable morality that is more dangerous than moral relativism: by claiming that their values have a Christian foundation, other Christians are more prone to be seduced by the situational morality of graded absolutism.  Unfortunately, while thinking they are advocating moral absolutes, many leading Christians are instead unwittingly teaching a situational morality that professes an unwavering commitment to the greater good or the lesser evil.  


Both approaches under graded absolutism depend upon a results oriented outcome to justify conclusions.  This is why graded absolutism can also be called situational morality.  For example, under graded absolutism, the value of more people ultimately saved from death is always greater than fewer people ultimately saved from death.  If this goal is viewed as being an absolute obligation, then committing an evil act will be viewed as being appropriate if it is thought to possibly save more people.  For example, if a dictator is about to kill 10,000 innocent people, but he can be stopped by simply murdering the only scientist capable of making the massacre possible or by having a woman lure the scientist out of the country through an adulterous affair, graded absolutism could condone adultery as being the correct moral choice since it stands to save the most lives without committing murder.  In affect, in graded absolutism, commitment to unbending absolute righteousness is replaced by a commitment to an unbending goal, thus placing the rule of right and wrong external to God’s unwavering character. 


Suppose the goal is to keep the Ark of the Covenant from tipping off an ox driven cart.  Is there anything inherently evil in touching the Ark?  No.  In fact, craftsmen touched the ark while working on it.  However, to illustrate certain concepts, God made a mala prohibita decree that regulated how the ark could be moved.  One of the regulations prohibited the Levites from moving the ark unless they used beams of wood run through the ark’s side rings (Exodus 25:14).  When Abinadab’s two children, Uzzah and Ahio removed the ark from their house, they failed to follow this simple regulation.  The goal of both sons was to safely convey the ark, but it became an all consuming goal the moment Uzzah saw the ark being shaken off the cart.  The result was that God killed him on the spot.  Both sons had violated God’s regulation, but when Uzzah decided to take action and steady the ark, which he would have thought was better than seeing it fall of the cart, God killed him.  Again, God’s wrath came by violating a symbolic regulatory decree for the sake of doing something under good intentions.  How much more anger do we kindle when we violate God’s moral character in hope of garnering some good result?  How can we ever think to receive God’s blessing when we excuse ourselves for doing something that is immoral for the sake of trying to succeed in some good cause?  For example, it is immoral to ever tell anyone that they have legal permission to choose to execute an innocent person, but many Christians have passed laws that tell women that they can choose to execute their baby in the womb if they first wait 24 hours, or have their parents’ consent, or have received certain brochures, or watch certain videos.  Even though the goal is to save innocent lives, God’s wrath is stirred when we condone evil in the hope that some good may come from our strategy.  Christians are instructed to be holy as He is holy, but we cease to be such when we place any cause above God’s moral character.


Is saving more lives by any means an absolute moral imperative in the bible?  The answer is, “No.”  Consider the fact that physical security specialists and safety officers mitigate risks, but they are not expected to eliminate all risk at all cost.  For example, threat assessments can identify potential risks whose remedies may be deemed too extreme.  Though it may be a goal to save as many lives as humanly possible, such a goal is not an absolute moral mandate overriding all other considerations.  Sometimes the cost to eliminate a risk is too great to be practical, thus it becomes justifiable to accept the possible consequences for accepting the risk.  This is one reason why Jesus equated offering one’s own life to save the lives of some friends as being an act of love, not a response to an inescapable mandate to save lives by any means possible (John 15:13).  The corollary to such self-sacrifice is that you cannot offer up someone else to be murdered in order to save the lives of others, because love endorses or legislates no ill towards his neighbor (Romans 13:10).  For example, Paul wished that he was accursed from Christ so that his kinsman would be saved, but he did not wish that someone else would become accursed to save his people (Romans 9:3).  This is because godly men consider some responses too costly and sometimes even morally wrong when it comes to trying to save more lives.  Though it would have kept many lives from being snuffed out by ruthless dictators, Jesus did not compromise His principles to accept the throne over all the kingdoms of the world when Satan made his liberal offer (Matthew 4:8-10).  Likewise, Noah and his sons did not kidnap anyone and tie them up in the ark to save their lives (Genesis 7:13).  These examples follow the biblical ban against committing or endorsing an immoral act or mala in se crime, even when the goal is to save lives.  Such examples should reinforce the principle that it is always wrong to do something evil in hope that some good may come of it.  Consenting to some abortions if certain regulations are met, hoping that the regulation might save some babies, for example, is too costly because it legalizes doing evil for an otherwise worthy goal.


How does the concept of “the greatest benefit” differ from the concept of “the greater good” touted by modern ministers?  When the choice is between actions that are not evil in and of themselves, risk and calculation can be used to maximize effectiveness or to achieve a worthy goal.  For example, balancing a company’s resources to best meet expected demand and attain the greatest benefit for the company is generally a matter of calculated risk, not morality.  In contrast, using calculation to justify applying the label of goodness to acts that are inherently evil is antichristian.  In other words, it is okay to use risk calculation to decide the greatest benefit on what your business hours should be, but it is antichristian to use risk calculation to decide whether there can ever be a circumstance where it is okay to condone sexual intercourse outside of marriage, even it if will help the corporation profit.  Because sexual intercourse outside of marriage violates absolute moral value by placing pleasure above righteousness, sexual intercourse outside of marriage is always wrong and no situation, reason, or political system can rightly justify it.  Because evil is that which lacks the wholesome goodness of God, changing the state of the system cannot make fornication, rape, or any other mala in se crime a good thing – even if done to achieve a good goal. 


What about choosing the lesser of two evils?  According to the bible, there are no degrees of evil in the sense that evil cannot be mixed with some good to be less evil than before.  On the other hand, Scripture does teach that there are degrees of evil in the sense that some evil acts reap greater negative repercussions than other evil acts, though all evil actions are evil.  Jesus used the second manner of comparison in John 19:11, “he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”  Jesus’ comparison of evil addressed the quantity of evil, not the quality of evil.  Since it is a question of quantity, not quality, is it ever right to choose the lesser of two evils if the hope is to see some good come from it?  The answer is, “No.”  Even though Jesus was tempted to do evil in all ways common to man (Hebrews 4:15), he never chose the lesser of two evils because the evil deed that carries the least repercussion is still qualitatively a brazen act of rebellion against God and an offense against His immutable moral character.  In other words, even for Jesus, it would be morally wrong to choose the lesser of two evils.  However, when moral judgment loses what only the objectivity of unwavering values can bestow, it succumbs to pragmatism where right and wrong become questions of risk versus reward and morality then becomes a matter of calculation: this is the basis of situational morality wherein the boast is either to seek the greater good or the lesser evil. 


A morality based upon calculation cannot be justified regardless of how noble the goal may be, because it is not based upon an immutable, absolute moral foundation (God’s character).  However, a morality based upon immutable absolutes can use calculation as long as none of the choices conflict with objective morality.  For example, suppose a group of bible believing Christians want to shut down a local abortion clinic.  The group forms two possible strategies of picketing to accomplish their goal: (1) picket at the abortion clinic, and (2) picket at the abortionist’s home.  Though they would like to do both, they realize that their resources are limited.  How will they decide which plan to follow?  They will use calculation and then implement the plan that, according to human knowledge, stands to have the greatest impact in the given community to shut down the abortion mill.  Such is not situational morality because neither plan is immoral.  It is not immoral to picket at the clinic and it is not immoral to picket outside the abortionist’s home.  However, if they use calculation to decide between committing two immoral acts, then these Christian will have succumbed to situation morality.  For example, if deciding whether to steal enough money to bribe city officials to close the abortion clinic or to cause the abortionist’s license to be suspended by falsely accusing him of a crime he did not commit, situational morality would choose the lesser evil or the choice having the least amount of risk.  However, the lesser of the two evils still violates absolute moral principle.[i]


When confronted over advocating political candidates who consent to the shedding of innocent blood, today’s religious leaders question whether or not their candidate’s political situation has been fully considered, as if national or state borders should impact one’s morality.  When their appointee’s judicial verdicts are attacked for being pro-choice on abortion, Christian leaders question whether or not the entire case file was evaluated.  Both responses are appeals to situational morality.  In order to condemn the horrendous evil of rape, for example, one does not need to know the situation or thought processes involved that influenced a person to commit rape: the act is evil in an of itself.  Likewise, one does not need to know the situation or thought process that influenced a person to commit murder or support the climate that sanctions murder.  Why not?  Because absolute moral values are immutable, they do not bend to the situation or rational of prevailing political systems. 


Unfortunately, the double-jointed flexibility of situational morality can be seen among Christian pro-life leaders.  For example, whereas absolute morality views an action having the express purpose of murdering the innocent as an evil deed that can never be justified, regardless of the system, situational morality adds the exception clause, “unless the system allows it” or “unless it is done for the greater good.”  Sadly, for decades Christian leaders have been against endorsing murderers or pro-abortion politicians, unless they believe it to be for the “greater good” politically.  Because the state of their political system deems it necessary to make an exception, they have repeatedly compromised a moral mandate against cold blooded murder (i.e.  thou shalt not shed innocent blood).  Remarkably, in an effort to incrementally regulate abortion, Christian leaders have taken mala in se behavior and turned it into a mala prohibita act, thus placing the murder of a pre-born child into the same class of law as a demolition permit!  However, the mere position of regulating some action teaches that the action in question can have a legitimate, righteous purpose under certain conditions.  This is why certain drugs are regulated instead of completely banned: the use of the drug is not necessarily immoral.  This is also why, under absolute morality, you cannot righteously regulate something that is evil in and of itself.  However, situational moralists will regulate something morally wrong, and this is often done because they think they have a moral imperative to save lives by all means possible.  To reiterate, there is no such biblical mandate and physical security specialists and safety officers intuitively recognize this truth.  Why is it that most nationally known leaders do not?


Using the exception clause to guide morality toward the so-called greater good was embraced not only by our contemporary religious leaders, but also by leaders mentioned in John 11:48-50.  In an effort to keep Roman democrats from taking away their political seats in the nation, religious leaders endorsed a politician’s policy knowing that such would lead to the murder of an innocent person.  For the Sadducees and Pharisees, the greater good meant saving their place in national politics, even at the expense of innocent blood.  Jesus became a bargaining chip to help maintain religious influence in governmental policymaking.  In effect, such moves by the Pharisees of old and religious leaders of today are guided by principles of utilitarianism in which human life and righteousness are reduced to having value only to the degree that they do not stand in the way of political goals.  Furthermore, if religious leaders will accept the murder of the innocent as part of a compromise, then how can we expect there to be any limit to what they will offer as a bargaining chip?  Sadly, many politically minded religious leaders today are willing to turn their back to God’s Word but never to their party’s political agenda.


King Saul is another example of a situational moralist in the bible: he rebelled against God under the guise of doing what he thought to be the greater good.  Saul recognized that God had given him strict orders, and he worked hard to follow what God had commanded him to perform.  However, Saul feared political repercussions from taking a hard-line stand on God’s commands.  Thus, King Saul stopped short of doing all that God had said to do, choosing rather to do that which was politically advantageous.  Saul wrongly placed ceremonial worship, which falls under mala prohibta guidelines, above spiritual worship, which falls under objective morality.  Saul rationalized his political strategy, stating that his policy would help encourage people to worship God.   In fact, Saul became adamant that he had obeyed God in all that God had commanded.  Likewise, today’s politicians fear that it will be a greater evil for the opposing candidate to win an election; therefore, they think they are obeying God by choosing the so-called lesser evil.  On the contrary, because Saul’s actions were founded upon his warped sense of morality, God’s prophet proclaimed that King Saul’s political influence would come to an end.  The prophet also pronounced that obeying God is better than any sacrifice we may make for God, especially if we disobey God in the process of sacrificing (1 Samuel 15:1-30). 


Whenever a Christian’s moral direction is arrived at through calculation or political posturing over a situation, he unwittingly succumbs to the platitude, “the end justifies the means.”  Such a foundation, however, has been the basis upon which history’s most sadistic tyrants have rationalized their hedonistic despotism.  If not being challenged by Christians to act differently, the world will quickly mimic this standard, but with the added insight that whoever can lie the most and get away with it, whoever can steal the most and yet crush opposition, whoever can manipulate the system the best to satisfy personal desires, whoever can exploit the less perceptive without suffering a backlash, and whoever can go unscathed while applauding murderers will be seen as the one who most deserves to be in power.  If these sordid examples resemble power plays in today’s politics, please consider that it is this type of system that will one day elevate and empower anti-Christ.  


By allowing moral judgments to be influenced by anything other than God’s immutable righteousness, Gary Bauer, Larry Bates, Jay Sekulow, James Dobson, and countless other national and local religious leaders have guided their organizations into situational morality.  For Jay Sekulow Live! and the American Center of Law and Justice (ACLJ), taking this road brought them straight into the heart of situational morality.  For example, after a month attempting to have ACLJ senior lawyers reply to the question, “What do we do as Christian spokesmen when legal positions conflict with moral principles of right and wrong,” the response issued was that they did not feel “qualified to really speak on this topic,” and that they were not comfortable with the question.  Could they have at least pointed to the example of Daniel and the lion’s den as a possible example of what to do?  


Likewise, when Jay Sekulow’s son was asked, “What should a judge do when precedent or the legal process requires him to violate God’s moral command ‘do not murder,’ as with the case of abortion,” Sekulow answered, “It’s a very tough situation, but usually good conservative judges will follow precedent.”  Another top ACLJ attorney stumbled for words in his erratic reply, stating, “the judge in that moral conflict, in that spiritual conflict, the best result in those situations might be, according to the conscience of the judge to make that call, but it may be to recuse himself entirely.”[ii]  In other words, top-level attorneys in the Christian sponsored ACLJ believe that judges have two options when moral mandates clash with legal procedures: bless the immorality for the sake of following accepted practice or recuse themselves to be silent on the issue (In effect, hiding the candle under the bushel – a form of salt-free Christianity).  The decision, according to Jay Sekulow Live!, is determined by how the judge’s conscience views the situation, or in other words, by that which is right in his own eyes.  However, when Israel was allowed to walk in their own counsel, it was because God had given them over to their own lusts (Psalm 81:12).  Sadly, many Christian leaders will never endorse making a stand upon steadfast virtue regardless of the situation, legal climate, or precedent.  Do they not believe that we will have to answer to God for disobedience to His standard of righteousness or is it that they are convinced that their God’s righteousness will somehow change or bend for the situation at hand?    


For James Dobson, taking this road brought him to abandon his pledge to God to never cast a vote for anyone who supports abortion.[iii]  Of the seven things that God hates, shedding innocent blood is among them, and giving support to such an act creates an accomplice to the crime, regardless of the political reasons.  Dr. Dobson also staunchly praised and celebrated a wicked law that legitimized various abortion procedures, which caused wise pro-life leaders to incrementally rebuke him and his ministry.[iv]  Dobson was then forced to admit that the measure he had supported for years would not save any children.  In another example of risking moral clarity to reach politically calculated goals, Dobson also supported legislated socialism to give homosexual couples living together privileges that heterosexual couples could not have through mere cohabitation.[v]


In a willingness to do anything to limit abortions, except pass a personhood amendment for the pre-born, the National Right to Life organization uses situational morality to support immoral legislation and legislators in hopes that some good may come from supporting evil.  Hence, their moral compass is not guided by an objective moral standard but rather by their short-sighted goals.  For example, U.S. House of Representative Bill 6099, The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, was supported by National Right to Life.[vi]  The bill legitimized abortion by making abortion a legal option after informing the mother that the baby will feel pain while being executed (a mala prohibta regulation).  The bill’s solution?  Abortion clinics must also offer sedatives for the baby to be more “humane.”  Such is akin to Nazis offering pain killers to Jews prior to putting them into gas chambers.  Wyoming National Right president Steven Ertelt, founder and editor of, staunchly defended the National Right to Life’s support of the bill and criticized Colorado Right to Life’s voice against the bill as being out of touch with the rest of the pro-life community.  Although HR 6099 failed to pass, hundreds of other so-called pro-life laws have already passed in individual states.  For example, instead of requiring that parents be notified prior to administering any non-emergency medical treatment to a minor, situational moralists passed a law requiring that the parents only be notified prior to an abortion.  Thus, a mala in se act was transmuted into a mala prohibita act (by definition) merely by requiring parental consent prior to the murder of their grandchild.  However, we should never endorse any law, regardless of intentions, if the law can be summed up by saying, “If you follow this guideline or regulation, then you can kill the baby.”  Mainstream pro-life leaders have also misled their supporters by giving them a pro-life placebo.  How?  By waging a public relations stunt against partial birth abortion, whereas the truth is that their so-called law against partial birth abortion does not save any children and did not outlaw the abortion technique.[vii]  Sadly, even if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Roe vs. Wade, abortion will remain legal in many states because “pro-life” regulatory laws legalize abortions if certain conditions are met.  This is one cost of abandoning absolute morality for situational morality.  Christians should have never accepted the lie that we can endorse some evil if our cause is a good one.


The previous examples show how situational morality will allow man-made criminal law and political legislation to affect one’s moral compass.  They are also indicative of rejecting absolute spiritual principles and choosing to battle on the level of flesh and blood.  In contrast, the Egyptian midwives of Exodus 1:15-17, under strict legal restrictions to carry out abortion and infanticide, disobeyed the law of the land.  Why?  Because they feared God more than the law of the land or the political climate in which they found themselves, they stood on principle rather than fleshly nature (The flesh will calculate risk and choose the lesser of two evils).  Their obedience to the king was not an absolute moral dictate for God only delegates limited power to kings.  Thus obedience to Pharaoh was trumped by the moral dictate, “thou shalt not murder the innocent.”[viii]  In spite of their difficult circumstance, had the midwives chosen the so-called “greater good” principle to kill children instead of risking their own lives and political influence with the government, it would have been an evil decision in God’s sight.  Sadly, because of situational morality, had our Christian leaders been on the scene and their political appointees in the place of Egyptian midwives, Moses and a host of Hebrew babies would never have taken their first breath.


Contrary to what many national ministries would have you believe, God does not guide Christian leaders in the direction of choosing the lesser of two evils, even if it is under the misnomer of choosing the greater good.  The Apostle Paul reminds us that we should not do evil to attain something good (Romans 3:8), and James states, “Let no man say when his tempted [to make a decision between two evils], I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust” (James 1:13-14).  Ignorance of such basic biblical principles by our conservative Christian leaders does affect our communities through the criminal justice system and its laws.  For example, for fear that a more liberal judge might be appointed in 2006, Christians endorsed the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, even though Alito had a ten-year history of issuing radical pro-abortion rulings.[ix]  They excused Alito’s actions as being morally just based upon the system in which he found himself and the thought processes he utilized.  As such, they heralded pro-life support among Christians for Judge Alito, though he demonstrated that he saw it as his duty to sanction the murder of innocent little ones.  They embraced a Christianized version of Joseph Fletcher’s situational ethics to say straight-faced, “The morality of Judge Alito’s decision was a function of the system at the time it was performed – it was his job.”


After God brought Israel out of Egypt with signs and miraculous wonders, the Lord commanded that they attach markings to their hands or their foreheads (Exodus 13:9).   The significance was to demonstrate that the LORD’s law should be in their heart, soul, and mouth, out of love and in honor of the strength of His Word.[x]  However, a celebrity will appear in the future exhibiting signs and miraculous wonders, and he will also command a mark to be placed in the hand or forehead for those who choose him to be their leader (Revelations 13:16).  Whether the mark is literal or figurative is debated by some.  However, the significance of his mark will be the message that humanity should love man’s law and precedent with all their heart and value man’s word above all else, especially over God’s moral mandates.  In fact, a commitment to man’s immoral dictates will one day determine whether someone will be able to legally buy or sell.   In other words, life will be viewed as being sustained through obedience to man’s law, not God’s.  Is this not the climate we have festering in today’s politics?  Is this not what Christian legal advisors espouse when they say we ought to obey legal precedent whenever man’s law conflicts with God’s moral mandates?  In effect, every time our religious leaders shun absolute morality to invoke the situational morality of graded absolutism or legal precedent, their actions encourage the mindset behind the mark of the Beast.  And, since Satan can appear as an angel of light, is it not likely that the chief anti-Christ will appear as the lesser of two evils and will be endorsed by many conservative religious leaders?  Sadly, our Christian leaders have been leading the world by principles that will one day play into the hand of the Beast.


Though obeying moral commands may reap immediate positive results, scripture teaches that obedience is required even when the immediate outcome can be disastrous.  Godly obedience invoking impending disaster was the stuff that made heroes in the bible.  Therefore, if presented with the option of supporting one of two candidates, one whose platform would permit the rape of thousands of women or the other whose platform would only permit the rape of your mother, sister, wife, or girlfriend, which would you advocate?  What if one of the candidates said he was personally against rape, but thought that states should decide for themselves whether to outlaw the act or not?  Would that make it any better?  If you choose either option as being the so-called lesser evil or greater good for political reasons, then you have abandoned God’s unbending morality to wrestle against flesh and blood.  However, if you would condemn both options, then let this chapter challenge you to take that resolve and love your defenseless neighbor as yourself.  Condemn leaders when their political policy would endorse or rubber stamp the choice to murder pre-born children or the handicapped.  Incidentally, though elections have been used to illustrate public displays of situational morality, private choices can be just as easily influenced.  Abortion has been used repeatedly as an illustration point in this chapter because history has shown that one of the most accurate litmus tests that foreshadows the kind of moral values and type of legal system we will endorse is how we view the most helpless among us.



In summary, on the extreme left-end of the spectrum is Moral Relativism, which states there are no fixed moral laws, regardless of the situation.  To the right of that is Situational Ethics, which does not give an opinion on whether or not fixed moral laws exist, but does emphasize the necessity of evaluating the situation to determine if an action was justified.  To the right of that is Situational Morality, which is of the opinion that universal moral laws have been declared, but that the situation decides the character of those laws.  Situational Morality puts to practice the philosophical view of Graded Absolutism, which holds that situational factors in a particular case merely help one discover which command of God justifies violating other moral commands.[xi]  And on the far right is Absolute Morality, which states that moral laws are based upon the unchanging, unbending, immutable moral character of God, which is independent of any other reality, regardless of the situation.  The doleful conclusion is that many people within conservative or fundamental Christianity talk of absolute morality, but they practice situational morality.


[i] Not giving a true statement is not in and of itself evil, else every fictional writer and teller of parables would be guilty, as would Jesus when he concealed his identity and pretended as if he would have left Cleopas and Simon behind in Emmaus (Luke 24:28).  Instead, giving a false statement with the intent to falsely accuse or falsely excuse someone of a criminal act for the purpose of conviction or acquittal is evil in and of itself.  However, by ignoring this simple nuance, many people fail to recognize that Rahab’s statement concerning the spies (Joshua 2:3-6) and the statement against Joseph by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:7-20) are two different types of acts.  One act has no biblical mala in se type of law against it, while the other act is morally wrong.  

[ii] A Little Lesson From the ACLJ

[iii] Ross Marshall, Focus on the Family Letter, dated January 9, 2006, to James Craddock.

[iv] An Open Letter to James Dobson, full page ad.  The Birmingham News, Monday, July 16, 2007.  pg. 3.

[v] Colorado Senate Bill 166, 2006, Reciprocal Benefits Bill.

[vi] Letter urging support for HR 6099, sent to the U.S House of Representatives from National Right to Life, November 27, 2006.

[vii] Gonzales v. Carhart.

[viii] Obedience to magistrates falls under mala prohita law.  As such, obedience to it is subservient to obedience to God (ie. Acts 5:29).  Civil government was created after the flood of Noah, as were obligations to its leaders.

[ix] For example, in 1991, Alito refined the new concept of “undue burden” which restricts anti-abortion laws (Planned Parenthood v Casey); in 1995 Alito supported tax-funded abortions for alleged rapes, even when no crime is reported to police (Blackwell v Knoll);  in 2000, Alito supported Partial Birth Abortion in NJ on the basis of the system (Planned Parenthood v NJ); in 2001 Alito ordered taxpayers to pay $522,992.84 to Planned Parenthood attorneys for their fight against a partial birth abortion ban (which he also upheld on appeal in 2002, PP v NJ Attorney General).

[x] The passages dealing with the markings attached to the hand and forehead are Exodus 13:1-16, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:18-21.  Compared with Revelations 13:13-17.

[xi] Adapted from content written by Geisler, Norman. Options in Contemporary Christian Ethics, Baker Publishers, 1981, pg 93.



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