Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ethics

"The Good is often the greatest enemy of the Best." - Maxwell
"If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable" - Proverbs 28:9

Which is better, to spend ones time sitting with street kids loving them and giving them hope for the future, or sitting in an office, wading through tedious documents that it's actually your duty to understand?

Which is more worthy, to slog away at understanding a law you know that 99% of people really care nothing about, nor even believe in, enforcing it over others and creating unheaval and more work and stress for all of them, or to spend time creatively working on more fun and generally well-recognised projects?

How do you find motivation to inconvienence yourself and others to a phenomincal degree, appearing to red-light and be negative to all the other people you want to encourage and help, in order to fulfil a law you don't even agree with yourself?

For the Christians in mainline western churches:

If your country declared it illegal to meet in groups larger than 15, would you keep meeting
as normal in defiance of the government and protest the loss of your "rights", or find a way to keep "doing" church and fulfilling the call of the bible within the constraints of the law?

Which is more important: Comfortably doing what you're used to, or uncomfortably denying yourself in order to be a righteous and unimpeachable testimony?

10 comments:

St├ęphane K said...

I will avoid the temptation of answering the rhetorical question.

But seriously, what do you have in mind when you write?

dan said...

I'll leave the whole rant which explains this post until a bit later, I'm hoping to see anyones reaction without knowing context first.

Sue said...

How very intriguing. I can feel frustration oozing out of this post and look forward to knowing what prompted it!

As for the question - groups no bigger than 15 sounds cool to me. What a great excuse that would be to avoid larger congregational gatherings.

But to the question behind the question - I don't know until it happens. I don't think we can. Your namesake in the Old Testament certainly knew where to draw the line each time his principles conflicted with the law, and God honoured him for doing so. Would I have that strength of character to follow similar principles? I have no idea...

Bridget said...

can I express my opinion? It goes something along the lines of
AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH! Make it go away, please!
Yep, something like that. That, by the way, referred to the specific incident. As to the general theme / rhetorical question, well, it's easy! Just don't apply any real situations to it!
Um, yeah. tough stuff. I wish I knew...

Kris said...

I also look forward to knowing the specifics...but I understand the frustration all too well. Perhaps the difficulty lies in the context of having several hundred people all trying to subscribe to the same "vision" without really knowing what the bigger picture looks like, or what it takes to get there. I could go on and on...

Claire said...

well, Daniel, I say that you are doing the right thing, whatever that may be :)
I am interested to hear what the exact situation is, and have a few guesses, but I do think that being people of integrity - and following the laws put in place by the authorities over us - is a key element of being the "city on a hill" that we are called to be. Even when the law is silly, and no one else really follows it anyway...

Richard said...

I have a friend who regularly smuggles equipment into a country because the local believers 'cannot afford to pay the import tax' on it. When I worked behind the Iron Curtain many years ago I would smuggle in materials that the communists banned because of their belief 'there is no God'. Are these two the same?

Personally I have no problem smuggling stuff that because of its content is blocked by the authorities, but would not smuggle for economic reasons. We imported equipment into the same country my friend smuggles into and paid the tax. Were we right, or stupid?

I have a friend who recently showed a DVD at a men's breakfast and then announced that it was a pirate copy and he was regularly giving away pirate copies. I wasn't there [I don't believe in men's events or breakfast!] but I gather that there was both a stunned silence then an uproar. Was my friend right?

These clashes of conscience come when followers of Jesus are living out their faith within their society. Sometimes very weird things appear to happen. Take for instance the issue of copyright.

The so called 'Christian' West has taken the view that 'intellectual property' is the same as material property. So copying an idea, be it the music for a song or a recording is in some way robbing the author of payment for that idea.

Sharia [Islamic] law maintains that the idea is God given and that copying an idea is not theft in the same way that coming in to my home and removing my TB is theft. They maintain that God gave the idea for the benefit of the community.

Now here's the weird bit... many followers of Jesus [Keith Green would be a leading example] would maintain the that concept of copyright embodied in in Islamic law is closer to God's intention than that promoted by the 'Judeo-Christian' law in the West.

Coming back to my friend who was pirating DVDs to spread the Gospel... I very recently asked him for one to show to someone and he gave me a brand new shrink-wrapped paid-for DVD. He has stopped pirating.

We live in a fallen world. As friends of God we are called to be salt and light within the community in which we live. But... our Father sees what we do in secret not just what we do in public. Questions like those asked only apply if we have any desire to be salt and light within our community. If we are totally separated from it [literally or metaphorically] then they are irrelevant.

Richard said...

I meant TV not TB. Spell checkers cannot help with legitimate but wrong words... in the same way laws cannot help with legitimate but wrong intentions.

Richard said...

Oh, and as an aside, if I were in politics and a Christian I might try to pass the law banning meeting in groups greater than 15 as a way of encouraging the spread of the Gospel. History shows that very often laws that appear to be to the detriment of the people of God are the very thing that God uses to increase the Kingdom.

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