Situational Ethics

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Situational Ethics: Joseph Fletcher
Situational Ethics was pioneered by Joseph Fletcher (1905-1991). His work, Situation Ethics, founded the modern situational ethics movement. Since then, almost every publication on situational ethics has referred to the model presented in Fletcher's writings. Fletcher was an Episcopal priest, a member of the Euthanasia Educational Counsel, and an advocate for Planned Parenthood. He was a supporter of both euthanasia and abortion.

Situational Ethics: Fletcher's Model
Situational Ethics, according to Fletcher's model, states that decision-making should be based upon the circumstances of a particular situation, and not upon fixed Law. The only absolute is Love. Love should be the motive behind every decision. As long as Love is your intention, the end justifies the means. Justice is not in the letter of the Law, it is in the distribution of Love. Fletcher founded his model upon a statement found in the New Testament of the Bible that reads, "God is Love" (1 John 4:8).

Situational Ethics: The Contradiction
Fletcher's model of Situational Ethics appears reasonable upon a glance, yet given careful consideration, its flaw becomes apparent. Situational Ethics is based upon "God is Love" in I John 4:8. However, in the very next chapter we read, "This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3). While Fletcher holds that any commandment may be broken in good conscience if Love is one's intention, the Bible states that the keeping of God's commandments is loving God. To break any commandment, regardless of your intentions, is to not love God. Therefore, logic holds that the breaking of the commandment was not done in Love.

Situational Ethics: Man's Sin Nature
Situational Ethics is supposedly based upon the Bible, yet it contradicts the Bible. Furthermore, there are philosophical considerations that are left unresolved. Can humans, flawed beings, be trusted to act in Love? Paul the Apostle, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote to the Galatians: "[the Law] was added because of transgressions…" (Galatians 3:19). This passage refers to Levitical Law that was "fulfilled" by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross. However, ethical regulations continue to appear in the Bible's New Testament. Perhaps they share the same purpose as Levitical Law, in that they were given because of our tendency to sin against God. Even believers in Christ, saved by grace, retain their sinful nature in this world.

Situational Ethics: God's Word
Situational Ethics, though it may be well meaning, is wrong. It is best not to transgress God's Law under any circumstance, regardless of your motive. God knows best and instituted His Law for a purpose. He has not given permission to any man to transgress His Law. If you will suffer because of keeping His Law, rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for so the Prophets suffered before you, and great is your reward in Heaven. If you can save a loved one from suffering by breaking God's Law, do not. For you are taking away their opportunity to persevere and receive blessings from God. Furthermore, you are breaking God's Law, bringing His displeasure upon yourself. To break God's eternal Law for a temporal concern is to focus upon things of this world and to ignore eternity.

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