Category Archives: Ethics

How can I help a friend who’s always being put down by her boyfriend?

Don’t stand by and watch your friend suffer abuse. Yes, this is classified as abuse, and we need to recognize it as such. Anything a person says in an attempt to belittle and control another person is abusive. Your first job is to help your friend understand that love is not supposed to behave this way, and they should not consider dating anyone who hurts them or thinks so little of them.

The Bible says, “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”[1] An abusive and belittling partner is bad company. Not only is an abusive partner bad company, they are poisonous to your friend’s self-esteem.

If the first step is seeing this type of abuse for what it is, the second step will likely be helping your friend see and embrace that they deserve better than the treatment they are getting.

More than likely your friend will tell you that their partner is not like this all the time. And they probably aren’t. But abusers almost always try to isolate and manipulate their victims. You friend may be fooled by her boyfriend’s charm and attention, but if he has already demonstrated an abusive pattern of behavior, it will only get worse if she continues to allow it.

Helping in these kinds of situations is never easy, but as a good friend you can and should gently and lovingly let her know that she is not alone and that she does not have to take this kind of treatment. She is worth more than that to you and to God.

(adapted from Live Right Now)

[1] 1 Corinthians 15:33 esv

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What does the Bible say about human sexuality and sexual sin?

The Bible affirms human sexuality as a part of God’s original creation, something He considered good and beautiful. The Genesis account tells us that God created human beings in His image as male and female—complementary genders designed to play and work together for a greater purpose. Our Creator-God intended the first couple to use the gift of sexual union to reproduce His image across the earth[1] and to enjoy and deepen the unique bond between a husband and wife.[2] God’s design portrays sex as an act of creation and joyful intimacy between a man and a woman in marriage.

When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, they set in motion many ways human beings miss God’s design for life. These behaviors take many forms, including selfish actions in relationships, sexual behaviors and lifestyles, and physical excesses. The Bible speaks to all of these as sin[3] and makes it clear that we all have done things that go against God’s design for our lives.[4]

The Bible is clear that God hates sin because it damages us, sabotages our lives, and limits our ability to experience and express the life and love of our God. This is beautifully observed in Jesus’s encounter with the woman at the well. While he named her sexual sin by telling her that she was living with a man outside of marriage, His words did not condemn her. Instead, He invited her to an everlasting life and satisfaction she had never known.[5]

While some sexual sins can have more far-reaching consequences than others, the Bible does not encourage the people of God to single out one sexual sin as the worst. Neither are we to condemn those who struggle with sins that we don’t.[6] Instead, Jesus calls us to compassionately meet people where they are and to humbly invite them by word and example to God’s new way of life found in him, never losing sight of our own persistent capacity for sin.[7]

We live in a time of widespread sexual promiscuity and growing social acceptance of adultery, homosexuality, and the use of pornography. As a result, our world today looks much like the world of the Bible, influenced by the Greek and Roman worlds that embraced a culture of sexual excess. We should consider approaching these matters as the Apostles did—calling people to “put aside the deeds of darkness,”[8] to avoid judging others,[9] and acknowledge our own sin but in the context of God’s grace.[10]

The Bible reveals the Creator of heaven and earth to be a God of love, mercy, and second chances. He doesn’t give up on the sexually promiscuous person any more than He writes off the greedy or the gluttonous. He longs to show mercy toward those who confess to all forms of behavior outside of His divine intent.

Though God’s forgiveness doesn’t exempt any of us from the present consequences of sexual sin, the pages of the Bible also show that we who fall short of God’s design can be forgiven and restored to live a new life found in Jesus.[11]

[1] Genesis 1:27-28

[2] Genesis 2:24

[3] Mark 7:21-22

[4] Romans 3:23

[5] John 4:7-26

[6] John 8:3-11

[7] Matthew 9:12-13

[8] Romans 13:12-14

[9] Romans 14:10

[10] Romans 7:15-25

[11] Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17

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How Can We Love our Neighbor as Our Self, as Jesus Commanded?

Loving other people as oneself is a difficult goal. But Jesus clearly made it fundamental to Christian living. On one occasion, an expert in the Jewish law challenged Jesus with the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Luke 10:27 NKJV).

Although the goal of loving one’s neighbor as oneself is difficult, it isn’t impossible.  In Luke 6:36-38, Jesus gives some basic principles that help us understand what it involves:

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you (NKJV).

This passage contains two principles. One principle is that our expectations of our neighbors are directly related to the expectations that will be placed on us. As Jesus said, “With the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” The expectations we have of others will be required by them (and God) of us. But even subjectively, we already love—or hate—our neighbors as ourselves. We subconsciously project our own attitudes and values upon other people, expecting them to perceive us as we perceive them. If we are impatient and judgmental towards others, we assume others will be impatient and judgmental towards us. If we are compassionate and patient towards others, we won’t have to deal with the pressures that come from assuming that others view us with hostility and impatience. Love or hatred directed outwards is always matched by love or hatred directed inwards.

The second principle is that love for one’s neighbor should never be confused with indulgence. A father who gives his children anything they want spoils them. If we love our neighbor as our self, we must be as careful in setting standards and goals for him as we do for ourselves. If God were a genie in a lamp who gave us anything we wanted, would we ever be satisfied? Of course not! Love for our neighbor involves the same principle. While love always seeks to promote the other person’s well-being, at times it is manifested in acts of charity and at other times in firm confrontation.

Our neighbor is just like us. At times he needs mercy, at times he needs correction, but he always needs our love.

 

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Are the Ten Commandments for Christians?

The Mosaic Law, including the Ten Commandments, was given to the people of Israel (Exodus 20:1-17), not Gentiles. It included both moral principles and ceremonial laws and regulations. It was intended to bring awareness of sin and guilt (Romans 3:19-20; 7:7-13; 1 Timothy 1:7-11), not to be a way of earning salvation. (Hebrews 11 explains how Abraham was saved by faith long before the law was given through Moses.)

The Jews referred to the Ten Commandments as “the ten words” (Deuteronomy 4:13). They were the basis of the entire Mosaic system, and as such they contain principles that remain the foundation of Christian ethics.

Christ fulfilled the requirements of the law (Romans 5:5; 8:1-4), so that Christians are no longer under the external Law of Moses (Galatians 3:1-14; Colossians 2:8-17). The Ten Commandments contain elements of ceremonial law. Christians aren’t required to follow these. Yet, when obedient to the Holy Spirit, Christians manifest God’s love and righteousness in harmony with the Ten Commandments’ moral principles (Romans 13:8-10).1

  1. The works of the flesh and the works of the Spirit listed by the apostle Paul in Galatians 5 demonstrate clearly how impossible it would be to live a Spirit-filled life while violating the moral principles within the Ten Commandments. Back To Article
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Does God Hold Me Responsible For What I Do In My Dreams?

It’s unlikely God holds us much more accountable for the fantasies that appear in our dreams than He does for the predispositions to sin that we all share, including temptations or evil thoughts that drift into our minds. In fact, some of the things that happen in the theater of our dreams may help us be more aware of our deepest longings, conflicts, and fears.

Sexual fantasy, rage, and violence often occur abruptly and seemingly uncontrollably in dreams. We don’t know how much we are capable of regulating behavior in dreams. Some of the ascetic church fathers thought we are responsible for what we do in dreams, but Scripture nowhere indicates that this is true.1

Dreams are generally things that “happen to us,” not things we consciously choose to do. To the extent that our dreams are “lucid”—that is under the control of our conscious mind—we may find we encounter some genuine temptation. (See What should I think of what I experience in dreams? and Is it possible that some dreams contain important symbolic meaning—or even a message from God?)

If troubled by dreams, we should commit them to the Lord, asking for protection as we sleep. We should also ask Him to instruct us as we sleep and strengthen our ability to resist both conscious and unconscious temptation.

  1. Furthermore, Scripture nowhere implies that we adopt the other extreme forms of self-discipline the ascetics embraced, such as living in isolation, eating starvation diets, tormenting themselves with hair shirts that constantly itched, remaining unbathed so that lice could multiply, and so on. Back To Article

 

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