在灰色世界中做出合乎道德的選擇──MAKING ETHICAL CHOICES IN A GRAY WORLD

有些人看一切,都是非黑即白,對與錯,善與惡的兩極分明。而另外一些人則是看到一片灰色的海洋,海洋的兩側都沒有固定的界線。如果聖經給了每一個可能的道德難題都有明確答案,生活可能會容易許多。但事實並非如此。實際上,聖經甚至沒有在書中對每一個道德問題給出明確的答案。那麼,在經歷生活中棘手的灰色地帶時,有自覺的基督徒應該如何做出正確的選擇呢?

當聖經裡提到誡命時,這是每個人都應共同遵守的道德標準。例如,「不可偷盜」不僅僅適用於當地便利店的收銀員,它也適用於每一個人-無論貧富老少。然而,除了明確的聖經誡命之外,還有一些屬於個人偏好、選擇和看法的世界,在這個世界中,對某一個人來說是正確的,另一個人卻可能無法接受。

因此,我們需要一個過濾器來幫助我們,對沒有特定聖經經文能直接回答的問題,做出道德選擇。我們不能只是簡單地依靠法律,因為有時法律只規定了什麼是被允許的,但卻不是我們是否應該要做的。正如美國前最高法院大法官波特·斯圖爾特所說 :「道德是你知道有權做什麼,和應該做什麼之間的區別。」

我們應該使用什麼過濾器呢?資源非常多,但我很欣賞聖經中蘊含的真理,這些真理可以應用於各種情況。我個人常用來檢視日常道德的過濾器來自兩處新約經文,羅馬書 14章 和哥林多前書 10 章23-33節。

這兩處經文的重點,都是基督徒是否應該吃祭偶像的食物。在當今的職場上,這也許不是一個迫切需要關注的問題,但那引導著使徒保羅,在討論該議題的原則和問題時,同樣也適用於現今的一些灰色地帶:

1. 它是被允許的嗎? (如果有明確的聖經經文命令反對,那麼它就是不被允許的。)
2. 它是否可以帶來平安和相互成長嗎?
3. 它是有益的、有利的或有建設性的嗎?
4. 它本質上是否對他人有益處?
5. 它是否會讓另一個信徒跌倒?
6. 它是否能榮耀神的名?

這些問題中的任何一個回答,是「否」時,就應該意味著對這個決定說「不」。這樣一來,這些問題就成為某種可參考的依據。然而,真正的挑戰,不是只做一次,而是一遍又一遍地,建立我們的道德肌肉記憶,道德行為不能是最後一刻的決定。正如希臘哲學家亞里斯多德所說,「重複的行為造就了我們。」

我們對道德的分際必須保持敏銳。我們對真、善和美的熱情必須保持強勁。英國新約學者湯姆·萊特這樣說:「基督教道德觀不是為要發現世界上正在發生什麼事,並與它保持一致 ;不是為了贏得上帝的恩寵; 也不是要試圖要遵守很久以前或塵封已久的規則書卷。這是關於在現今的練習,是我們將來在上帝的新天新地中所要唱的歌。」

史帝芬R. 格里夫氏博士(Dr. Stephen R. Graves)把自己描述為組織戰略家、實用神學家和社會資本家。他為高級主管、企業主以及年輕企業家提供諮詢服務。同時也是眾多書籍、文章的作者,和一位大眾演說家。他的網站是www.stephenrgraves.com

備註:如果你手上有聖經並想閱讀更多相關內容,請考慮以下的經文(因篇幅有限,請查閱未列出的經文:箴言1:14、箴言19:20、箴言20:18,23):

詩篇 1篇1-3節
1:1 不從惡人的計謀,不站罪人的道路,不坐褻慢人的座位,
1:2 惟喜愛耶和華的律法,晝夜思想,這人便為有福!
1:3 他要像一棵樹栽在溪水旁,按時候結果子,葉子也不枯乾。凡他所做的盡都順利。
箴言 1章1、3節
1:1 以色列王大衛兒子所羅門的箴言:
1:3 使人處事領受智慧、仁義、公平、正直的訓誨,
箴言12章15節
12:15 愚妄人所行的,在自己眼中看為正直;惟智慧人肯聽人的勸教。
箴言15章22節
15:22 不先商議,所謀無效;謀士眾多,所謀乃成。
箴言20章10節
20:10 兩樣的法碼,兩樣的升斗,都為耶和華所憎惡。
提摩太後書 3章16-17節
3:16 聖經都是 神所默示的(或譯:凡 神所默示的聖經),於教訓、督責、使人歸正、教導人學義都是有益的,
3:17 叫屬 神的人得以完全,預備行各樣的善事。

反省與問題討論

  1. 在你看來,當今職場的道德決策狀況如何?你相信很多人都被所謂的「情境道德」( situational ethics)所引導嗎?如果有,是以什麼樣的方式?
  2. 對於人們如何看待道德行為的看法,你的立場為何?你認為大多數問題都是黑白分明,或對或錯?還是其中許多問題是屬於「生活中那些棘手的灰色地帶」呢?請列舉幾個例子。
  3. 面對一個困難的道德難題時,你會如何解決?你會問值得信賴的朋友和同事以了解他們的觀點嗎?你還有哪些可以諮詢的資源呢?
  4. 你認為聖經是在作出道德決定時的智慧源頭嗎?你認為它對 21 世紀的工作職場仍然有相關性和實用性嗎?還是你認為它的原則和教義已過時且不相關了呢?請解釋你的答案。


MAKING ETHICAL CHOICES IN A GRAY WORLD

By Stephen R. Graves

Some people see everything in black and white, right and wrong, good and evil. Others see an ocean of gray, with nothing ever firmly planted on one side or the other. Life might be easier if the Scriptures contained a clear answer for every possible ethical dilemma. But that is simply not the case. In fact, the Bible does not even give a definitive answer to every ethical question discussed within its pages. So, how is the conscientious follower of Jesus Christ supposed to make the right choices when traveling through those tricky gray areas of life?

Everyone is held to the same standard of ethics when it comes to biblical commands. For example, “Thou shalt not steal” does not apply just to the cashier at the local convenience store. It applies to everyone – rich or poor, young or old. Beyond the obvious biblical mandates, however, there lies a world of preference, option, and opinion in which what is right for one person may not be acceptable for another.

What is needed, then, is a filter to help in making ethical choices about issues that are not directly addressed by any specific Scripture passages.  We can’t simply look to what the laws say, because sometimes the law states what is allowed, but not whether we should always do it. As former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said, “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.”

What filter should we use? There are many resources, but I appreciate the truths embedded in the Scriptures that can be applied to various situations. My personal filter for navigating the daily ethical landscape comes from two New Testament passages, Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 10:23-33.

Both concern whether followers of Christ should eat meat offered to idols. This is not a pressing concern in today’s marketplace, but principles and questions that guided the apostle Paul’s discussion on that issue also can be applied to a number of gray areas of today:

  1. Is it permissible? (If there is a clear biblical command against it, then it is not permissible.)
  2. Will it lead to peace and mutual improvement?
  3. Is it beneficial, profitable, or constructive?
  4. Does it have the good of others at heart?
  5. Will it cause another believer to stumble?
  6. Does it bring honor to God’s name and reputation?

A “no” to any of these questions should mean a “no” to the decision. In that way, these questions serve as an anchor of sorts. The challenge, however, is not doing this just once, but over and over, building up our ethical muscle memory. Ethical behavior cannot be a last-minute decision. As the Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”

Our ethical edge must stay sharp. Our zeal for the true, the good and the beautiful must remain strong. 

British New Testament scholar N.T. Wright said it this way, “Christian ethics is not a matter of discovering what’s going on in the world and getting in tune with it. It isn’t a matter of doing things to earn God’s favor. It is not about trying to obey dusty rulebooks from long ago or far away. It is about practicing, in the present, the songs we shall sing in God’s new world.”

© 2022. Dr. Stephen R. Graves describes himself as an organizational strategist, pragmatic theologian, and social capitalist. He advises executives and business owners, as well as young entrepreneurs. He is author of numerous books and many articles, and a public speaker. His website is www.stephenrgraves.com.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. What, in your opinion, is the state of ethical decision-making in the marketplace today? Do you believe many people are guided by what has been termed, “situational ethics”? If so, in what ways?
  2. Where do you fit in terms of how people perceive ethical behavior – do you think most issues are black and white, either right or wrong, or do many of them fall in “those tricky gray areas of life”? Give some examples.
  3. When confronting a difficult ethical dilemma, how do you go about resolving it? Do you consult with trusted friends and colleagues to get their perspectives? With what other resources might you consult?
  4. How do you view the Bible as a source of wisdom in making ethical decisions? Do you believe it remains relevant and practical for the 21st century workplace, or do you regard its principles and teachings as outdated and irrelevant? Explain your answers.

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Psalm 1:1-3; Proverbs 11:1,3,14, 12:15, 15:22, 19:20, 20:10,18,23; 2 Timothy 3:16-17


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