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Saturday, August 19, 2017
Date Posted:
3/10/2004

Rev Kyle Paisley


Young people today: Does the end justify the means?


Rev Kyle Paisley

Some, who have no scruples, would readily answer “yes”, in every case…

They would do anything to achieve their goal, no matter how rotten it is.  Others, whose moral sense is not so dulled, argue that in certain cases the end does justify the means.  If the goal is a noble one, they argue, then inappropriate means may be employed to achieve it,

This issue is something that all Christians must take seriously.

Ethics determine behaviour and Christian behaviour affects how and what people think about their faith, and about Jesus Christ.  The young believer who practices good principles will be an example “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity,” and so will give no cause for any to despise his youth (1 Timothy 4:12).  But if he doesn’t he loses his influence for Christ.  As C.S. Lewis put it: “When Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, they make Christianity unbelievable to the outside world.”

So, do the ends justify the means?

What about the intimidation of scientists who carry out unnecessary tests on animals?  This may force them to end their work and so would relieve many helpless creatures from distress.  Surely there is room here to say that the method is suited to the purpose, and is morally justifiable?

Stealing in order to satisfy hunger is another case in which we might say the same.  This is certainly more understandable.  The bible says: “Men do not despise a thief, if he steals to satisfy his soul when he is hungry”  (Proverbs 6:30).

Then, there is euthanasia.  It does seem cruel to prolong a man’s agony when medical experts say that he has little chance of overcoming illness, or that if he recovered he would have no quality of life.

Some say “All’s fair in love and war” and believe that in conflict anything goes if the goal is the destruction of a dictatorship.

Some believe that it is morally righteous to kill an abortion doctor, as this prevents the murder of unborn children.  Any action taken to spare the lives of the innocents has to be good.

In the final analysis, we cannot decide on this issue by leaning on our own understanding or by practising “situation ethics”.

This leads to the disintegration of society.  When every man is his own king, then chaos reigns.

Far better to acknowledge an all-wise God and follow the light of His Word

We are not to do evil that good may come (Romans 3:8)

There are serious consequences if we try to.  We will reap what we sow!  (Galatians 6:7).  So let the Bible guide.  And remember this – “It’s never right to do wrong to do right.” (Dr Bob Jones Sr).

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