My Moral Dilemma

In my last post I relayed a question that a friend of mind likes to ask and recently asked me.

What would you do if you were ambushed by an axe-murderer but you realized just in time to do something about it…if you wanted to?

Would you fight him off…even killing him if necessary?

Would you try to reason with him?

Would you let him go about his business, bringing an end to your life in this physical world?

My instinctive answer was number one. I found myself deciding that I would fight him off and kill him if necessary.

But that answer has been the cause of a moral dilemma ever since.

The key points of the multi-person conversation stemming from that question went something like:

  • Every person chooses their own reality, does one person’s reality have to affect another person’s?
  • Love is the most transformational force in the world, would the voluntary laying down of your life, in love, to the proverbial axe-murder impact his/her life and false reality?
    • What if it wasn’t just one person giving in to their apparent hurt, but a line of people waiting to have their heads lopped off just because they love this axe-murderer and understand that life only exists for a short time in these bodies
  • Just because the axe-murderer’s reality is to kill at will, that doesn’t mean that I have to subject myself to his reality. How about subjecting him to mine? How about peacefully stopping him (if possible) but still acting in love some how?

As you can see, there were many perspectives in the conversation (which most often makes for the best conversation) and we chatted about this topic for quite a while (and have been doing so since).

The dilemma I came upon in my own answer is this: when I play out the “do anything necessary to stop him” reaction to the greatest extent, I eventually find a conflict with another perspective I hold.

You see, I’m not pro war (nor am I anti war…chew on that one ;-) ). However, I find that how I would handle the axe-murderer is what our country claims to be doing in the world now. It’s not that we’re picking a fight with the insurgents in Iraq, but that they’re living in a reality that is contrary to our own and we’re simply choosing not to be subjected to it.


I tend to take the stance that we should act in Love to those waging war against us, not to wage war back. Violence can never stop violence. War can never halt war…

But why then would I stop violence with violence if it came to my own life, as in the case of the axe-murderer?

So what about you? Do you wish your instinctive answer to the above mentioned question from the last post was now different, as I do? Why or why not? I’m truly curious, as I cannot find insight within myself.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

  • Justin

    Another question to throw into the mix is, “Can we define peace as the end of violence?” One may argue that defending yourself against the murderer and accomplishing to kill him (let’s just say) will in fact bring an end to his violence. And, assuming the defendant is not generally a violent person, the violent cycle has been stopped and justice has been served.

    Of course, the ultra-long-term-journey theory comes into play: What if you don’t kill him, let him kill you; he feels guilty, turns himself in, goes to jail, comes to rescue in Jesus, becomes a pastor with an incredible story and boom! “All is well with my soul”.

    Mmmmm…this is a pickle. No doubt about it.

  • Justin

    I’ve also included a link back to this post on my blog under “Currently Being Discovered” – hopefully I can help spur some more good conversation here.