Ethics 101

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, May 21, 2003.

  1. Dr. Bob

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    In the mid 70's I smuggled Bibles and New Testaments into Lithuania, Russia and the Ukraine. I was warned by our government and the USSR that bibles and religious books were classified as "pornography" and that I would face 3 months' imprisonment without appeal if caught.

    I opted to anyway. Georgi Vins once said to a group of us pastors - "If YOU were in need of Bibles, I would bring them to your country no matter what a law might say. I'd risk everything to give God's Word."

    On another forum I was asked about the ethics of smuggling and breaking the [bad] law. Opening it up for discussion.

    You obviously know my position. :rolleyes:
     
  2. Istherenotacause

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    Modern day Martyrs. I know this fellow who smuggled Bibles into China along with a missionary's son in China. They were caught and released after a few days. Sounded dangerous at the time, but not nearly as dangerous it would be to smuggle Bibles or to even hold services in Vietnam, it is told they deport you and much worse things if caught.

    The fellow that went to China, many years later, has lost his burden for the Chinese and is about to relieve a missionary to St. Lucia for a year. He came across to us as if he was looking for a way to go on a vacation with his family, we didn't take him on for support. Now if he had a burden for the people of St. Lucia instead, I would have personally taken him on, whether the church did or not.

    We hand out tracks and place them everywhere we go, we do respect the authority of the store to stop when "caught", we also place Christian booklets in the free newstands in Wal-marts and such, knowing this is not legal, but certainly ethical.

    How can anyone legalize ethics, or make them illegal? It seems to me it is more a transgression against ethics to restrain the Word of God! What about God's ethics?!?

    I know I lost my standing with the "brethren" when I went into the liquor store and asked the clerk if I could place some Gospel tracks on the counter next to the cash register.(Boy, was she amazed! She said it was fine with her and how much she appreciated it! Do you think God will forgive me for that? I can picture the look on the faces of those purchasing the devil's brew, and maybe, just maybe, some one picked one up and got saved!)

    Phooey on the "brethren"! They didn't call me to preach!

    Whew! Talking about ethics!

    In His Holy Service!

    Brother Ricky
     
  3. Helen

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    The answer is in Acts 4:18-20:

    Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."
     
  4. Gina B

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    If I'm going to be doing the wrong thing, I'd much rather it be smuggling bibles than cheating on taxes or something. LOL
    I don't know if it's right or wrong, but in such cases the only thing left to do is to do what you would imagine Christ to do, and I can't imagine that he would not spread the gospel no matter what the laws were. He never said to talk about him only when others said you could, he just said go and tell ALL nations, ALL people.
    But anyhow, smuggling bibles, I have no problem with anyone doing it, and with technology the way it is it's not as dangerous as it used to be if you know how to set it up and you're computer literate.
    Gina
     
  5. USN2Pulpit

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    Hey Dr. Bob,

    I brought bibles into Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman! I even got to meet in one of the "persecuted churches" for a time. They did the whole service in English, so that I could worship, too. It was almost all foriegn contract workers from Sri Lanka and India. So you can see, I'm on your side!
     
  6. Frogman

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    Brethren from India are illegally crossing the border into Bhutan daily and preaching the Gospel. I think their actions are very honorable.

    Bro. Dallas
     
  7. donnA

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    If I felt a burden for it, I'd do it anyway. Man makes laws to keep chrsitianity out(or under control), God says spread the gospel.
     
  8. Larry in Tennessee

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    Most of the apostles were imprisioned and eventually put to death for "breaking the law" and preaching the gospel. IMO, they set the standard. If it's illegal to spread the gospel, then God's law overides it.

    Love in Christ,
    Larry
     
  9. stubbornkelly

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    Agreed. Scripture tells us that much.

    However, those who choose to be civilly disobedient must be prepared to face the earthly consequences. I think most on this board would, but you'd be surprised at how many people I run into talking about how unfair it is that they were punished for breaking the law, since what they were doing was good.
     
  10. mark

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    Thanks for moving this discussion Dr. Bob. The stories of Bible smuggling are fascinating. How would you compare smuggling illegal Bibles into a nation with broadcasting Christian programming into a nation.
    I think I agree with all of you, but where do you draw the line? Bibles are ok , how about tracts. WHat if you were there and there was a very influential CHristian leader and the police came in, would you interfere with the police, hoping the leader could escape? Would you bribe an official for the cause of CHrist? Why does my H always capitalize? ;) anyway, while I agree, I also thing you can start down a slippery slope.
     
  11. USN2Pulpit

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    Why does your H always capitalize? Am I not getting something?
     
  12. KeeperOfMyHome

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    This discussion reminds me of The Hiding Place and Corrie ten Boom with her small, smuggled Bible around her neck that made it through with her in the concentration camps.

    Julia
     
  13. Larry in Tennessee

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    Mark, this is a much more difficult question, and I'd have to say that I really don't know how I'd respond. I guess it would be a spur of the moment decision.

    I guess the bigger question is how would God want us to respond. Are there any examples in the Bible? Did the apostles always go with the arresting athorities peaceably, or are there examples where other Christians interfered for them? I'll have to look and see.
     
  14. mark

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    USN2Pulpit You aren't missing something, it seems like when I am typing the lette H always gets capitalized.

    Larry in Tennessee there is a bigger question here and I think you understand. I am certainly not against passing out Bibles, etc., but once you start ignoring/violoating the law, even for a really really good cause, then the next really good cause might be ok, then the next good cause, then just a cause. I just recently finished reading "Children of the Storm" about Christians in the USSR. It is heart-breaking and infuriating at the same time....

    I am a public school teacher and I have been told by my principal in a very nice tone, "look Mark, you need to remember this is a PUBLIC school, you can't evangelize (in the school)". Ok, where do I draw the line?
     
  15. Artimaeus

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    Mark, I was a public school teacher for 15 years. I never taught the Bible as a subject but quite frequently one of my students would ask a question that called for my opinion. I told them my opinion and why. If that referenced the Bible, I had no qualms about saying so. I was lucky, I guess, because I never got into any hot water because of it. Except once, when a student misunderstood when I showed them a tract which was arranged like a bank check made out to "Whosoever Will, she told her parents that I had told her that if she signed the check whe was going to heaven. The mother called and was justifiably upset. She didn't mind me talking to the kids about the Bible, she just didn't want the misunderstanding.
     
  16. Larry in Tennessee

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    Many good Christian teachers probably find themselves in a similar situation. I don't think the Lord would expect a teacher to put their job in jeopardy by "preaching" to the students. I believe you probably reach some of them just by carrying yourself as a Christian. Sometimes people see Christ living in us, and it affects them far better than anything we can say.

    Love in Christ,
    Larry
     
  17. mark

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    Thanks for the encouragement
     
  18. Dr. Bob

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    When in Leningrad, I visited a Tsarist prison and have a pix of me in it. When I got home, my 9-month pregnant wife (who was worried about my adventures there) was not amused.

    Wonder how many godly brothers and sisters have given up there lives to "smuggle" bibles into the people of the world?

     
  19. Tim too

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    I think that this is an extremely interesting topic. Here we are advocating breaking man's laws in order to promote the Kingdom of Christ by spreading. However, in order to confront the youth minister caught up in the sin of pornography (another thread) and possible bring restoration it is wrong to break the law.

    http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=10;t=002664

    Both are for the Kingdom of Christ. What is the difference? :confused:

    In the love of Christ,
    Tim
     
  20. Clint Kritzer

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    Hi Tim -

    As I am the moderator who closed the thread, I will suppose that the question is directed towards me.

    There are various ethical differences in these situations.

    (1) Were Gib to break the trust of his company and the guidelines of the FCC, he would not only be endangering his own liberty, but also the welfare of his employer and the reputation of the unnamed youth minister.

    In the case of smuggling Bibles, the person is only endangering themself.

    (2) The guidelines of Matthew 18 states that if a brother's offense causes one harm, go to the brother (professing believer) one on one. I suppose that the knowledge gained by Gib caused him offense and therefore it is his obligation to go to the man and look him in the eye in order to try to bring about a resolution. That is, if he was offended.

    In smuggling Bibles, one is offending a non-believing government who, according to Paul, is established by God to avenge wrath on the wrong-doer. (Romans 13:1-7)

    (3) In this thread, Dr. Griffin has introduced a past case scenario asking opinion on his action. In the other thread, Gib is asking advice from people who have no knowledge other than what they have been told on that thread. The advice from the other participants hardly counts as (eye) witnessing the transgression. (Deuteronomy 19:15) Yet, the advice given here could start a chain of events that could cost two men their reputations, both Gib and the youth minister.

    (4) Finally, unless more explanation is required, if a member started a thread saying that he will be smuggling Bibles in the future to a country that has censored the use of them, I would delete that thread altogether in the interest of protecting that person from secular law.

    If one is going to break the law, please don't tell me about it, at least not on a public message board. Part of the user agreement states:

    That, in fact, is a mild message. The courts could force us to turn over an identity.

    I hope this answers your concerns.
     

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