The end justifies the means.

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Jope, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. Jope

    Jope
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    Ever wonder why it says that Rahab did what was good by lying (James 2:25; Josh. 2:3-6)?

    Or why Jehu's actions were approved of by God (2Kings 10:30), although it included lying (2Kings 10:18-19)?

    Or how come, in order to obey the Lord and bring about two witnesses to witness evil done (Matt. 18:16), speaking evil of that brother must first be done (thus, the Lord's words override James': James 4:11)?

    The solution to this problem, is that "the end justifies the means".

    Careful thought should be made about what end it is that one is trying to achieve, if this method is being sought, though. If the end is evil, and one is trying to do something evil in order to achieve that end, then that end certainly doesn't justify the means.
     
    #1 Jope, Aug 8, 2013
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  2. DrJamesAch

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    These examples don't mean the end justifies the means. God prevented Moses from entering the promised land even though the same purpose was accomplished when Moses struck the rock in stead of speaking to it. God also prevented David from seeing the temple built because he was a "bloody man" even though David actually did what God wanted him to do by subduing the enemies of Israel, God did not approve of his methods. 1 Chronicles 22:8, 2 Samuel 7.

    Likewise Paul gives orders to pastors and their wives to maintain Godly behavior so that the ministry is not blamed. Titus 2:5, see also 2 Cor 6:3.

    If the ends justified the means, then we could condone "strippers for Jesus" and every wicked means imaginable so long as the goal and the ends resulted in a person being saved. God is concerned about the "means" as Paul warns about those who "handle the word of God deceitfully". 2 Cor 4:2.

    So the answer to those apparent conundrums isn't that the end justifies the means, but that God has mercy on those who fail miserably to meet God's standards, and blesses them IN SPITE OF their means, not BECAUSE of them.
     
  3. Jope

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    Sure they do. Read them.

    I'm not going to sit here and repeatedly tell you simple, plain, scriptural facts either.

    If you are going to argue that 2 + 2 doesn't equal 4, then don't expect me to argue that it does.

    You should read my entire post before replying to it.

    Here's what I said:

    Certainly the end didn't justify the means with Moses, for the end wasn't good, but evil.

    As for David's wars, that's a red herring.

    As for Paul's instruction, I don't see how a good end wouldn't justify the means for them either.

    It might seem like an irrelevant question right now, but do you play board games or sports, James?
     
  4. DrJamesAch

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    Actually, no I do not engage in any sports activities anymore (physical limitation from injuries while in the military). No board games.

    So now question for you, is it OK for a Christian to be a prostitute but instead of receiving money, demand as payment that the man listen to her presentation of the gospel for 10 minutes? How many unsaved men would turn that down given the opportunity to sleep with a woman for free and all they have to do is listen to her talk about Jesus for 10 minutes. Couldn't that save a multitude of sinners? And if you think that is far-fetched, there are actually several groups out there that do that very thing.

    But hey, the end justifies the means, right?

    Your emphasis on "they should be careful about considering what end they are trying to achieve" does not clear up the conundrum. Even if they do clarify that, they still need to consider whether the means is justified by God. Your argument only supports considering for contemplating the ends, it does nothing to support your argument for means being justified merely because it produces a positive result. Your statement here clarified that the intent was evil in the first place which produces an evil result, but your initial argument is for a good result produced by evil means.

    You have also failed to actually prove that the acts of Rahab would have been otherwise sinful outside of their context to save a life. The Bible never explicitly states that the spies told Rahab to lie, or that they knew she lied, or that Hebrews 11 and James 2 actually condone the lie, but blessed Rahab because she had receieved the spies with peace, and then sent them out a different way, it mentions nothing about being blessed for lying to the soldiers.

    Your view of Utilitarian and Situational Ethics defies what the Bible says plainly about lying. If the ends justified the means, then there would be no force behind the proscription against lying. A moral axiom must be true at all times and places in order for it to maintain credibility and therefore if there is a blessing that arrives out of a circumstance where a lie was involved, then to be consistent with Scripture the person would be blessed IN SPITE OF the lie, NOT AS THE RESULT OF IT.

    "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" Romans 6:1
     
    #4 DrJamesAch, Aug 8, 2013
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  5. Scarlett O.

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    I've never wondered about that because the Bible never says that Rahab's lying was "good".

    Here's what it does say. James 2:25 - "And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route?

    Lying isn't mentioned here. What James commends Rahab for as an example for ALL of us is her hospitality to someone who is a enemy and showing them a way of escape. Did she lie? Yes? Was she commended for it? No.

    And then there's Hebrews 11:30-31 - "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after being encircled by the Israelites for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute received the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed."

    Again, no lying is mentioned here. And nowhere in Joshua 2 does the Bible say that Rahab's lies were "good".



    Rahab's faithful actions were:
    • hearing about God and believing in Him when no one in Jericho would and everyone was trying to hide from God
    • receiving the spies in peace (hospitality)
    • hiding them
    • showing them safe passage out
    • confessing her nation's sins to the spies and confession her belief in the one true God
    • assimilating with God's people
    Did she have need to repent of the lie? Yes. Hopefully she did. Going to live with God's people and becoming a daughter of the Living God did not justify lying. And she had an AWFUL lot more in her past to be repented of than lying. She was harlot.


    But she had faith. She had courage. She had obedience. And she had a burning desire to be with God and His people.That's what allowed her to be forgiven from harlotry and lies. That's what made her an example to us in Hebrews and James.


    The ends justifying the means is not a Biblical concept.
     
    #5 Scarlett O., Aug 8, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2013
  6. Jope

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    Well, in this circumstance there are other means, which aren't evil, to get to the end.

    You do raise a good point though. I'll add more to the doctrine to clarify: this scheme, when there are other means to achieve the end that aren't evil, should be sought as a last resort.

    If you're talking about my edit, it was changing the noun "you", into "one", to make it not sound personal. I also added a redundant phrase. Everything else about the paragraph remained the same.

    (In the edit I also added another scriptural example about Matthew 18:16).

    I'll repeat what the argument is: if the end is evil, then the end doesn't justify the means. If the end is good, then the end does justify the evil means, if those means are sought out as a last resort.

    I've stated that the end justifies the means, and that if those ends are evil, then the end doesn't justify the means.

    Rahab's actions would have been "otherwise sinful outside of their context to save a life", if that context includes an evil end, like lying to a judge in court to condemn an innocent person or acquit a guilty person, for example. The end is an evil end, so that evil end doesn't justify the evil means.

    Her deceit is implied in the phrase "sent them out a different way". The spies were looking for the Hebrews, and the way she "[sent] them out a different way" was by lying.

    Here's what the Bible says:

    2 Kings 10, NASB, bold emphases mine
    18 Then Jehu gathered all the people and said to them, “Ahab served Baal a little; Jehu will serve him much [Jehu lied]. 19 Now, summon all the prophets of Baal, all his worshipers and all his priests; let no one be missing, for I have a great sacrifice for Baal; whoever is missing shall not live.” But Jehu did it in cunning, so that he might destroy the worshipers of Baal.

    30 The Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in executing what is right in My eyes [though it did include something evil, like lying], and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in My heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.”​

    If the end doesn't justify the means, then 2Kings 10 shouldn't be in the Bible.

    Not anymore than Rahab or Jehu, as a last resort (when other moral means are not available, even this should have careful thought though, as I have already said), to accomplish a good end.

    2 Kings 10, NASB, bold emphasis mine
    30 The Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in executing what is right in My eyes [though it did include something evil, like lying], and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in My heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.”​
     
    #6 Jope, Aug 8, 2013
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  7. Jope

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    James commends her for it:

    James 2:25 ESV
    Rahab the prostitute [was] justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way​
     
  8. Jope

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    It is implied in her action of sending out the messengers by a different route.
     
  9. Jope

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    Hm.

    I was going to say, that if you did, you would have to disregard Philippians 2, because it says to "do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit" (v. 3, ESV). So the end would justify the means.

    Sorry to hear about the physical limitation though. How long ago was that if you don't mind sharing.
     
  10. Scarlett O.

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    Telling someone to travel a different route than the one they had planned because the original one was dangerous isn't lying. In fact, it's telling the truth.
     
  11. Jope

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    Joshua 2, ESV, bold emphasis mine
    And Joshua the son of Nun sent[a] two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. 2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.”

    She doesn't say that the "original [route] was dangerous". She sends the messengers out a different route, lying to them, saying that they will overtake them.
     
    #11 Jope, Aug 8, 2013
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  12. Don

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    She was commended for exactly what scripture says she did: received them, and sent them out another way. It does not say she was commended for telling the soldiers a different story. James' passage specifically identifies her works with regard to the messengers; not her works with regard to the unbelievers.

    I'm afraid that you may be too set in your thinking to be open to opposing viewpoints....
     
  13. Aaron

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    Misleading God's enemies to protect His children and the innocent is not lying. Lying is bearing false witness against one's neighbor. IOW lying is hiding the truth to damage or injure the innocent or to pervert justice.

    Making a false statement to protect innocent life is no more lying than is killing a home invader murder, especially if that is the only weapon or power at one's disposal.

    The Egyptian midwives is another example.
     
  14. Scarlett O.

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    Oh, I see the problem now. You are confusing "messengers" with soldiers.

    The "messengers" referred to in James 2:25 aren't the soldiers looking for the spies. They ARE the spies.

    James 2:25 - "And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route?

    The word "received" is Hebrew for "welcomed as a guest". You can look it up in Strong's Concordance. And the "messengers" is "one who is sent". A lot of Bible translations use the word spy in place of messengers.

    The spies were sent by Joshua and Rahab welcomed them as guests.

    And she did send them out another way because it WAS dangerous.

    The Bible says the spies "entered her house", presumably by a public door. Rahab sent them out via a window because it was on a wall. She told them that men were looking for them and for them to hid in the hills for three days and then leave.

    She was commended for saving their lives and for her faith in God. That's all.
     
  15. Don

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    Please explain the distinction between lying and bearing false witness identified in Proverbs 6.

    --- edited to add:
    Don't mean that to sound like a "gotcha"; I'm seriously curious about your take on the distinction.
     
    #15 Don, Aug 9, 2013
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  16. Aaron

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    There is no difference. Misleading God's enemies is not lying.
     
  17. Don

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    Lying is telling an untruth; but if I tell an untruth to God's enemies, it's simply misleading, not lying.

    Not saying you're wrong, because I'm willing to study this out more; but muslims use that same logic.
     
  18. Aaron

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    I look at the father of lies, the one who was a liar from the beginning. He comes to do nothing but to steal, kill and destroy, and that is also the goal of his agents.

    I also look at the examples of the Egyptian midwives and of Rahab, and also the situations they were in.

    These are really the exceptions that prove the rule. One can certainly take it the wrong way as the originator of this thread has done and come away with a perfectly diabolical conclusion that the ends justify the means.
     
  19. Van

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    Nope

    This is the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches. There bible teaches it is never right to do wrong for some "good" reason. Any level of depravity can be justified by such a rationalization.
     
  20. Van

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    The core premise, a mistaken premise, is that the Bible teaches it is ok to lie. Actually the Bible teaches the exact opposite. God hates liars.
     

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