One Evil, Two Evils, Three Evils, Four

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. ~ James 1:8

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. ~ James 1:8

Your money or your life … Choose now!

Scruples is a card game invented in 1984 and marketed as “The game of moral dilemmas.” Many questions seem to involve awkward social situations or relationships. For instance, there might be a question about what you would do if you spilled something on the carpet at a party. Would you tell the host or not? Or, if a friend asked you to give them a reference for a job and you know they are not qualified for it, would you give them a positive reference or not. So the question gives you a scenario and two choices. I guess it’s also supposed to be fun but doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

Those kinds of questions are low stakes moral questions and get boring quickly. To make that kind of game more dramatic, you have to raise the stakes morally. So you would ask something like: the cashier gives you change for a hundred dollar bill instead of the twenty dollar bill you paid with; do you keep quiet or tell her about the error? Or, you and two friends are adrift at sea. In order to survive do you eat the skinny friend or the fat friend? You are hiding spies in your house and the army commander tells you to either turn in the spies or be killed. Which do you do? You get the idea.

Herein lies the problem

I realize that when talking about a card game or dinner party game we’re talking about hypothetical scenarios. In reality we are sitting on a comfortable couch asking each other these questions about pretend situations. So I’m just supposed to play along and have fun, but I can’t.

I can’t play along because I refuse to adopt the worldview required by the game, even if only temporarily. The worldview of the game is one where all moral questions are relative, all moral questions are either/or, moral questions do not have real life consequences, and neither God nor His Word exists. The worldview of such a game is the worldview that would ask a man if he had stopped beating his wife and impose on him that he can only respond, “yes”, or “no.” What is that? It’s a false dilemma. Those are not the only choices.

A true, biblical worldview never requires us to choose between two wrongs. A biblical worldview begins with the fear of God, which is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). The book of Proverbs ultimately gives us two ways in everything—the way of wisdom and the way of foolishness. False worldviews continually constrain us to false dilemmas where we must choose one foolishness or the other foolishness.

I grant that situations can be complex and present dilemmas where either way isn’t clearly right or wrong. If we are talking about truly moral dilemmas, then the dilemma is in discerning the right way. But that discernment is by a fixed standard and what is discerned is between what is good and what is evil, not between which evil is less (Hebrews 5:14).

Don’t be a loser at the game of life

In real life we are continually confronted with decisions. I’m not talking about deciding what you’re going to order off a menu for lunch, but real moral decisions. Problems come in here when we make moral decisions from a Scruples worldview where the dilemma demands we choose either bad or worse.

I was once talking with a man who made his living as a truck driver. He was talking about keeping a phony log of his driving. He used insider lingo for it that I don’t remember now. Truck drivers are required by law to keep a log of their driving and there are legal restrictions on the amount of driving they can do per day. That may be simplistic but it’s the gist.

This man professed to be a Christian and when I asked him about keeping phony books, he looked at me surprised. He said something to this effect: In this business you have to keep a fake set of books or go out of business. While I don’t remember his exact words, I do remember the false dilemma he presented. Though he believed in God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, God’s infallible Word, God’s sovereignty, and other vital Scripture truths, he also believed that in the world of truck driving you had only the choice of operating illegally as a matter of standard procedure or going out of business. As though a biblical worldview held everywhere until you entered the industry of truck driving, and there Scruples was the only worldview.

I could give other examples but we need to bring this to a fine point. Jesus is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. If Jesus is Lord of all, then that means He is Lord of, well all as it turns out. In everything He reigns supreme and His Word is law. That means the after Christ (Christian) worldview (Colossians 2:8) is the only true worldview and all others, Scruples included, are false (John 14:6).

Keep this in mind as you go to the voting booth. Is Jesus Lord of the voting booth, or is He kept out by the dour old ladies standing guard with their fully sharpened #2 pencils? If Jesus is Lord of the voting booth, why would we then willingly take on the yoke of Scruples bondage and be forced to choose evil? Do you not know we have liberty in Jesus Christ, that we have been made free (John 8:36)? Do not choose evil, but rather choose whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).

About Jeff Short