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Situation Ethics = Pig + Lipstick

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MP3 Audio (4.94 MB)


Situation Ethics = Pig + Lipstick

MP3 Audio (4.94 MB)

You're probably wondering what ethics has to do with swine and makeup. Granted, it's a strange picture. But it is a good way to understand the code of conduct most people have embraced today. Before we get to the pig and lipstick, let's consider a little background on ethics.

Ethics means the principles that determine morality and acceptable conduct. Everybody has ethics, whether they consciously think about their ethical principles or not.

Today people often make decisions on the basis of situation ethics—a belief that instead of accepting absolute, unchanging standards, decisions should be made according to the situation. Situation ethics claims that loving people is more important than rules. Thus, rules can be broken as long as the motive is love.

If situation ethics makes sense to so many people, how could it be wrong? And what could be bad about basing our decisions on love? After all, if love is our motive, isn't that enough?

Here comes the pig

Sometimes the simple continuation of a line of reasoning can help us understand whether such reasoning is sound. Let's assume two people are invited to kiss a pig.

Susie says, "No way. Absolutely not. I don't kiss pigs no matter what they smell or look like."

Bob says, "It all depends. I might if someone bet me money to do it. Of course, it would have to be enough money to make it worthwhile and the pig would need to look good. Hopefully, it just had a bath and might even be wearing lipstick."

This imaginary conversation colorfully illustrates the difference between someone who has absolute values and someone who decides according to the situation. Susie doesn't care whether the pig has had a bath and is wearing lipstick or not. She doesn't care if someone offers her money to kiss the pig. She has a personal rule that she is simply not going to kiss pigs.

In contrast to Susie, Bob isn't sure how he will decide. It will depend on the circumstances. He might kiss the pig or he might not.

To be honest, we have to realize that some decisions aren't really ethical decisions. They are just personal preferences. Deciding on our favorite dessert is just a personal choice. Ethics is different because it encompasses morality and acceptable conduct. Ethics includes God's instructions. And when it comes to God's commandments, we need to be careful not to use situation ethics.

So what's wrong with situation ethics?

Situation ethics encourages people to pick and choose which of God's laws to follow. It allows people to lie to avoid hurting someone else's feelings. It allows people to break God's laws if they think the result will be good.

But God doesn't let humanity decide what is right and wrong. In Matthew 5:17-19 Jesus Christ states that we need to keep all of God's laws. Consider verse 19: "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least [by those] in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

Though situation ethics claims to be based on love, it really ignores God's definition of love. In John 14:15 Jesus says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments."

God's commandments aren't arbitrary. He gave them to us as a guide to a happy, healthy life. When we break His commandments, we can face tough consequences. Consider what could happen if you lied to protect a friend's feelings. What would happen if your friend found out? Would it hurt your friendship? Would your friend ever trust you again?

We human beings have, as one of our greatest limitations, the inability to see the ultimate results of our actions. This is one of the big reasons God tells us not to rely on our own judgment. In Proverbs 3:5 we read, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding."

Situation ethics is just another way of rejecting God's law. By dressing it up with concepts like love and consideration, some try to make it look better—like putting lipstick on a pig. When someone rejects God's absolute truth, he is not looking past the lipstick. The pig looks pretty good, at least at first. But those who love God and want to do His will can see the pig for what it is—a pig.

People who rejected situation ethics

In Daniel 6, some men in the Persian ruler Darius' administration got him to sign a decree forbidding people to worship anyone other than him for a short time. Daniel refused to compromise and was thrown in the lion's den, where God miraculously saved him.

We see another example in 1 Samuel 24, where David, whom God had declared Israel's next king, refused to harm the reigning king Saul when he had the chance—even though Saul was trying to kill him. David didn't compromise God's law forbidding murder even though Saul wasn't following the same instruction.

God's way leads to an abundant and happy life. He wants each of us to succeed, and He gives us an outline for a successful life. We have a choice. Either embrace God's way or prepare to kiss the pig. GN