On Situational Ethics: Oh No You Don’t!








Since when did we become a bunch of Communists and socialists?

Since when did we forget that we have made solemn covenants with God to obey his laws at all hazard?


Since when did we throw away our moral code of commitment to the laws of God in place of convenience?


If you had to do something bad but it gave you something good would you do it?


Does the end justify the means?


There was once a woman in a prisoner of war camp. Her husband and children were back at home. There was a rule in that camp that if a woman became pregnant she would get to go home; well, there were military officers who could accommodate the means to that end. Should she sleep with the guards to get pregnant so she could return home to her husband and children? What would you do? What if it was your spouse? This woman chose to become pregnant and she was in fact sent home. This woman made the wrong choice. Perhaps she was ignorant of the laws of God and God will have to take that into account, but among those who know the laws of God, we know this is strictly forbidden. The husband and children of this woman would have been better off having her as a legacy of right choices who died than having her come home by questionable means. Yes the children need a mother but if she was to die the husband could have married another woman and given the children the mother they need in that way.


As I said, this woman may not have been familiar with the laws of God. If not, she may have been doing what seemed best to her. But what happens if everyone does this? What happens if we have societies of people doing what they think is best instead of obeying Gods laws? If everyone is willing to trade sexual favors and other debaucheries for freedom and convenience, what then? Then we would have a society run by manipulators who take advantage of that. We need to stand up and show people that they can’t have power from abuse. We live in a corrupt world, but we do not need to add to the corruption.


Gods laws will, at the last day, be seen by all as the one and only great moral code by which societies can thrive long term. Truly Gods ways are the most compassionate and beneficial for the human race. If we want to have pity on the widow and orphan, if we want peace on earth and to meet the needs of them that want, we must go about it in the Lords way. His ways are higher than ours. When our plans and methods for building utopia go against his revealed word, they will, in time, prove to be inferior and unsustainable.


Even for those without formal religious training and religious backgrounds, everyone has a conscience. This is the light of Christ, and it is given to every person that comes into the world. If we ignore it, it can cease to show us the difference between right and wrong. No matter how ignorant or neglected, there is a level of accountability each person has to God due to the conscience which God gives everyone. When societies in mass start rejecting conscience in favor of lesser ways, God mercifully sends his judgments to help societies start over, lest the rising generation not be given a fair chance to live a wholesome and happy life.


I will note here that little children are innocent before God, as the faculties for discernment between good and evil are not yet sufficiently developed. Scripture gives the age of 8 as the age in which accountability to God begins. Children even younger than 8 need to be taught to make good choices rather than bad ones (as they are capable of making bad choices and do need to be punished for such), but it is not until a certain age that they are their own agents, and therefore accountable to God for those choices as being ones that stem out of their chosen personality rather than common errors of youth.





Some call electing death before compromise as being rigid, but the faithful know that God requires brave people who will keep his laws. The New testament specifically says that if we will not confess Christ to others, Christ will not confess us to his father. In other words, denying one’s convictions results in being denied access to the kingdom of God.


History is replete with examples of people who stood up for what’s right despite of dire consequences. Foxes Book of The Martyrs relates accounts of thousands of most noble Protestants who saw it better to die than to betray their religious commitments. Both they and their families suffered greatly, but to them, it was worth it. An eternal award awaited them, and surely it does.


Communist school programs ask children questions which force them into a corner to choose the lesser of two evils without presenting the right option as even being a choice. These scenarios are not only unrealistic but they fail to examine all of the possibilities. It is a doctrine of my faith as recorded by Nephi that God will always provide a way to keep his commandments. The New testament also reads that there is no trial come to us except that which is common to man, and with the temptation God will provide a way to escape.


Sometimes death is simply the right choice when compared to these extremes suggested by the communists.






The 2nd Article of Faith states that we will be punished only for our own sins, and not for Adams transgression.


We are not responsible for other people’s actions. If someone threatens you saying that they will kill themselves if you do not comply this does not put any responsibility upon you for their death.


Working with others in the mental health field requires firm boundaries. If someone needs to talk to you about their suicidal thoughts, you accommodate them as much as you can, but at some point you have to say to them ‘look I’m sorry you’re going through this and I really hope you don’t do it but I’ve got to go to work, I wish you well.’ You have an obligation to your family and your employer to show up at work.


If someone were shamed of their ugliness and was about to jump off a bridge because of that, would you beg with them telling them of their immaculate beauty? No, but you could say something without lying, such as pointing out the beauty of their eyes smile and soul. It is not your job to give others false hope that certain mortal ailments will be resolved before the recompense of the great resurrection when all things become fair and blessed.







To ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ is to do something bad in order to get a good result. However, this is not necessary, as I will here demonstrate.


A righteous parent allows its child to experience natural consequences. If a parent repeatedly robs its child of natural consequences, the sin of the child is put on the head of the parent. Youth who chose to use drugs, who chose to assault the innocent, who steal, and other severe and illegal behaviors, should be punished to the full extent of the law.


What if there was a medication that could save your child’s life but it costed a billion dollars? Would you steal the money or steal the drug to save your child’s life? The morally correct thing to do would be no, you do not do it. It’s better to let your child die than to steal. Try to find another way to help the child, but do not break God’s laws, lest you contribute to the downfall of the whole society.






If you have a child who would benefit from a certain political policy accommodating a certain medical condition or something, should you vote for that policy even with the knowledge that it would hurt thousands of others by unduly increasing their taxes etc.? In other words should you harm the many to benefit the one? The correct answer is no you should not. Voters have a moral duty to chose what is best for the most people.


We should not look to the government to provide for all of our needs and wants, however legitimate those needs may be. An individual robbing someone is as bad as a group of people getting together and voting to rob someone by law. Enforcement of corrupt law is mob activity and is morally incorrect.


When we find ourselves in a situation where the laws are corrupt we should seek by peaceful means to change those laws through the political process. When corruption becomes extreme and petitions have been ignored, the action taken by the American revolutionaries is a typical example of just resistance. This is not to be confused with the French revolution where in they chopped off heads of random citizens etc.






The question is raised what would you do if you got personal revelation to do something that is not typically allowed? It is true that some of God’s standards may seem strange to contemporary society but in none of God’s relations has he ever contradicted his eternal laws of justice.


In the case of plural marriage it was a revelation which opened access to one of the laws of God. This is not currently operable.


In the case of Nephi and Laban, The Book of Mormon gives the reasons why this took place. Laban was a tyrant monarch directly standing in the way of God’s plan. His policies were directly resulting in an untold number of people perishing in unbelief.


As for the Israelites being commanded to slay the Canaanites, God did not want Israel to enjoy the spoils of these deeply wicked people. God was sending a message that all of the works of the evildoers will be utterly cut off, and that all time invested in evil is an utter waste.


Why does God have people participate in carrying out his judgments at times? Because he is training us to be involved in justice. He does this because we aren’t his pets or his slaves, we are his children, and it’s about time that we start learning the family business.


God is the keeper of life and death. It resides with him to decide when to give life and when to take it away, and people carrying out God’s will are not to blame.


People need to be careful that they’re not acting on false revelation and serving false spirits, such as was the case in the Protestant Reformation when many Christians were tortured and killed in most brutal ways. Surely those carrying out and issuing such orders are both under condemnation. It is better to walk away from such evil at the hazard of one’s life than to be a participant in it.


We are also aware that the Hebrew tongue in which the bible was written has two separate words for kill and murder, and the one existing in the ten commandments is the word for murder.


Self-defense, defense of one’s family, and defensive one’s country, even to the shedding of blood, is just, true, and scriptural. Here I am referring to someone directly attacking your immediate life. It is not the Lord’s way to lay down and die in front of attackers. His way is to defend oneself. There are rare exception to this when commanded. The holy constitution of the United States insists that we have an inborn right to arms to defend ourselves. All of this being said, it in no way justifies using corrupt means to preserve life.


Yes there are some rare situations in which it is appropriate and Christian to kill. For more possible reasons visit this my other article “Why God Sometimes Instructs His People To Kill”  http://richardsonstudies.com/2018/01/27/reasons-god-people-kill-others/






The question of what is to be done when a person is at a railway station at a switch, and if the train goes one way it kills three people, and if it goes the other way it kills one person: If you choose to switch the rail car to the direction of the one, you’re not guilty for the death of that one, you’re only responsible for the salvation of the three. This being said, the railway situation is a bogus situation. It rarely occurs in real life, and as stated earlier, God would not tempt us in a situation above that which we are able to bear. The secular humanist also fails to recognize the priesthood option, where in the man of God can call down the powers of heaven to stop the train altogether.


In the book Enders game by Latter-Day Saint author Orson Scott Card, the main protagonist Ender kills another boy as he is defending himself, and in an attempt to stop people who bully him once and for all. Ender doesn’t realize his assault results in the death of the bully. Those observing Ender applaud him for doing this, saying that it was more about WHY he did what he did not WHAT he did. Well, I disagree with this. Though Ender was up against great corruption, there are other options he could have used, less lethal force, and at the end of the day, he may have had to endure some injustice. The bullies were bullying him and he reacted so forcefully that he killed them. (Now perhaps Ender had some level of innocence as he may have been truly unaware of the lethality of his actions, but the point still stands). A just end does not justify unjust means. We do not want a communist utopia where the leaders are ruthless killers. The book The Giver does a decent job of illustrating the flaws of such a utopia.


In Les Misérables by Victor Hugo a man steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. Would you do this? The correct answer is no, you should not. There are other ways to feed your family such as work, and even begging. But it is better to die hungry than to live a thief. Now were the French police justified in giving him such a large sentence for the crime? No. This being said, our current stance on crime could use to be much more strict.


Christ is the way, and his ways, being higher than ours, are often considered foolishness to men’s understanding. But the understanding of the prudent shall be hid when compared to the might of God’s law. God upholds justice, and mercy does not rob justice one whit. All crimes must be paid for. For those who agree to enter into covenant with Christ to obey his laws, Christ pays the debt of justice to eternal law which we have all incurred to one degree or another. Praise forever be to the lamb of God, who cleanses us and empowers us to become strong enough to obey all eternal law like He does!






It is better to live a life noble to the laws of God than a life of compromise. I would rather see my children martyred for standing up for Christ than to see them live to a ripe old age without a firm testimony of the gospel of Christ the Lord. As a father and husband I would rather serve my wife and children by showing them the importance of God’s laws even at the cost of my life than serving them with my company throughout their lives if it be not a high standard of moral convictions to the laws of God.


People who understand religious truth know that God’s ways are higher than man’s ways. They know that this life is a short time. It is a test to see if we will do all things whatsoever the Lord God will command as is stated in the book of Abraham. Some people live on this earth a long time, some people live on it only a short time, some people leave behind wealth, some people leave behind poverty, but what matters is whether or not we leave behind a testimony of the gospel of Christ, having stood firmly to it.


If a gun was pointed to your head and you were given the option to deny your faith and return home to your family to care for them in their poverty, or to speak the truth of your faith and die, which would you chose? In the name of God, stand up for your faith! Your wife and children, worlds without end, would rather be the wife and children of a righteous martyr than the wife and children of a coward.


I would sooner kill the man who threatened my life at the extent of my faith then to deny my faith. The scripture is clear when it states that to deny the Holy Ghost is a sin so grave that it cannot be forgiven in this life or the next. The greatest sin is to deny the Holy Ghost. When we deny our faith in exchange for our lives etc., I suggest we are in that instance denying the Holy Ghost which has born witness to us the truthfulness of our convictions about God and God’s law. (FYI The second greatest sin is to shed innocent blood. The third is to be unchaste with women.) May we not risk offense toward God.




Times of war call for acts which are otherwise forbidden. For example, trying to escape a POW camp. The movie The Great Escape depicts a group of escape artists held during WW2 in Germany. It was their sworn duty to escape, and to harass the enemy so the enemy would spend more troops and attention to the camp rather than the front. Among the camp each had his duty. There was the forger of records, the scrounger (who ‘liberated’ items from the enemy), and those in charge of security secret operations to ensure they weren’t caught by the enemy. A myriad of positions. The tunnel diggers, the tailors, everything to help them escape a truant camp and reenter the free world.

Now of course these things would not be permitted in day to day life. We can’t just ‘liberate’ someone else’s money because we need it, as the money wasn’t captive, but was owned by the earner thereof.
Robin Hood at face value was a socialist, robbing the rich to give to the poor. However, he may have been taking from a king who stole/usurped the egregious taxes in the first place. If Robin stole from any old rich person, that would certainly be wrong. But this may have been a war situation which necessitated some vigilante justice as there was none elsewhere.
All of this said, the Lord’s way is typically to go about change through the process of law in peaceful ways. One must be very careful in these matters, and be absolutely sure his actions are not premature or unruly.
Just because there is war doesn’t justify everything. The story used earlier of a woman in a POW camp becoming pregnant by a random soldier so she could return home to her husband I still see as an egregious error. Chastity is most sacred, and to lay down one’s life may well be preferable to unchastity. In the case of soldiers fighting the enemy, they are actually fighting the enemy. In the case of the woman being unchaste in exchange for freedom (and possibly her life itself), the woman is essentially bartering with the enemy, and the price is far too great.




In this essay we have been discussing weighty matters such as whether we should keep the law of chastity, not steal, and not deny one’s faith when pressed into difficult situations. It should be noted that there is some flexibility in the more minor affairs. God has given each person agency to chose between good and evil. Sometimes we have to make a judgement call when things are uncertain. I recently watched “Gifted Hands” about a brilliant rags to riches neuro surgeon named Ben Carson. When we was still in training, a man needed urgent surgery, but not surgeons could be reached. It was a choice for Ben: should he do the surgery, however illegal, to save the man’s life? Well he did, and it was the right thing to do.

I talked about how those ignorant of Gods laws are held to a different standard. I would like to note that even those acquainted with Gods laws need to be looked upon with mercy. Were I in the dire situations mentioned in this essay, what I presented is the way I would chose to act. We tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others, and this is as it should be, for we never know all the details of another person’s situation. When they do and don’t know, what state of mental and physical health they are in, how strong their testimony is, etc. We can fairly well discern what the optimal thing to do for most circumstances is, but we withhold judgement of others, as this is the role of Jesus Christ. Only He has all the needed details to judge righteously. We should judge inasmuch as it concerns us, but we should not attempt to judge the eternal salvation of others. Christ said we must judge righteously, and not throw pearls before swine. But being wise and careful is not the same as hating and condemning.

Before we came to earth, we knew we would make mistakes. The atonement was provided from before the foundation of the world so that we could indeed go forward with confidence. To use the piano allegory, we could practice without fearing striking a wrong key occasionally. Eventually we would learn to play flawlessly, but en route, we would make many errors. This being said, we must be careful when it comes to life death and moral questions. We are on this earth for a reason, and preserving life must be a top concern. We don’t do immoral things to preserve life, but we do EVERYTHING we possibly can. The question of war times and war-like scenarios comes up. ‘All is fair in war’ they say. There is perhaps some flexibility in how we discern what is best. As for doing things typically forbidden, you better be DARN sure that revelation came from God, as your soul is at stake. If you’re going to steal that bread to extend the life of your child, you better turn yourself in thereafter to pay the debt.


One Porter Rockwell story comes to mind where a guy was coming to town to kill him and the guy said “are you Porter Rockwell?” and Porter said “no but these are his dogs” and while the guy was getting ready to kill the dogs, Porter killed the guy. Brigham Young said Porter Rockwell is the most honest man he ever met. I imagine the people who are coming to kill Porter were coming to do so unlawfully, and his course of action was the only way to preserve his life. We spoke of this earlier, self-defense.

Brad Wilcox gave a fine lecture titled “His Grace is Sufficient” where he talks about the abundant role of grace in the plan of salvation. You’ll certainly want to review it.




The scriptures do say this life is a test and that the battle is not against flesh and blood but against false philosophies etc. This being said, we should be very brave and willing to suffer greatly and even die for the truth.

The Doctrine and Covenants states that those who are deceived get the second Glory. It’s those who are valiant in their testimony that get the highest glory. God is merciful to everyone, but it’s only the faithful to get the highest glory. My understanding is that this means for those of us who know better, we really do need to stand up for what’s right. The lower kingdoms of glory are fantastic places, and that is an expression of God’s mercy, but we want the highest glory. The Christian Martyrs knew that they were receiving a crown of glory for standing up for the faith even when people were going to kill them for it.

There’s a talk in the October 2020 general conference which made it quite clear that God not only expects us to try, but expects us to achieve. And not just in the next life, but in this life. He said this is evidenced by those who have attained many Christlike attributes in this life, and if they can do it, so can we.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *