Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hostage situation

Living in a fallen world often confronts us with forced options. by that I mean, we didn't create the situation in which we find ourselves. We didn't choose the alternatives. We can only choose between the alternatives which the situation imposed on us. We can't avoid making a decision. Both action and inaction have consequences. Moreover, the opportunities are frequently unrepeatable, and the consequences irreversible. We won't get a chance to do it again, or undo it.  
That supplies a moral backdrop in the debate over prolife philosophy. Suppose terrorists take a class of first-graders hostage. They demand the release of a Latin American drug lord. They threaten to kill a child a day unless and until their demands are met.
There are no good options in that situation:
i) The drug lord is already responsible for countless atrocities. If he's freed, his cartel will continue to commit additional atrocities.
Moreover, we don't know for sure that the terrorists will honor their end of the bargain. 
ii) We could attempt to rescue the hostages. That, however, is a high-risk gambit. The terrorists may start shooting hostages at the first sign of the raid. 
The raid may save all the kids, some of the kids, or none of the kids. The terrorists may kill all the kids before the rescuers can neutralize the terrorists. There's no guarantee that the raid will save all the kids–or any kids. 
iii) We can fold our arms and let the terrorists to murder all the children because we imagine it's too morally compromising to soil our pristine hands with the unpalatable alternatives. Yet our puritanical inaction makes us morally complicit in a predictable and preventable massacre.

A raid may get all the hostages killed, but doing nothing will certainly get all of them killed.
In a fallen work, you make the best of a bad situation. 


  1. Amen, Steve. Sometimes there are just no good options. Every action and inaction is fraught with undesirable consequences. We live in a fallen world, and as you say, we try to make the best of a bad situation.

  2. **All the options outlined are faithless, and represent doing a little evil so a little good may come, thereby making common cause with, and becoming complicit with the terrorists.

    The answer is the Gospel. Nothing less than the terrorists repenting of their sin, beating their swords into plowshares, and submitting to King Jesus is acceptable, for anything less is sinful compromise with the world, which is to stain oneself with the blackness of sin, and become an enemy of Christ.**

    Did I nail it, or what?

  3. Or you get a leader like Regan who can get them freed simply being the kind of CIC who the enemy perceives as being capable, both politically and materially, of carrying out a successful military campaign against them.

    "Ok. We give up. You can have your people back. Just don't hurt us."