If you are a Christian, I have a question for you: Are you an absolutist?
Don’t answer yet because I have another question for you first: Is it ever moral for a Christian to lie?
If your answer is “No,” you are an absolutist, but you have a problem because the Bible suggests that sometimes lying is not only moral but a heroic act of faith.
I’m referring, of course, to the story of Rahab. (Joshua 2; Joshua 6:17; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25).
What if a loved one had a heart attack and you were rushing him or her to the emergency room. Every minute counts. Do you run the red light? If you are an absolutist you have a problem. If you are a “graded absolutist,” no problem.
Graded absolutism recognizes that in a fallen world–perhaps even in a perfect one–moral principles sometimes conflict. When they do conflict, graded absolutists choose the more important moral imperative.
Graded absolutism is not relativism. Relativists contend that the situation determines the proper conduct. Graded absolutists contend that absolutes determine the proper conduct, unless there is a conflict of absolutes. At that point, a choice must be made which considers the situation to determine the more important principle to follow in that situation.
Rahab made such a choice, and she chose wisely, wisely enough to be commended in the Bible for her faith so that we can still talk about it more than 3,000 years later.
So, which are you, an absolutist or graded absolutist? GS