Do we struggle with imaginary problems?
Sometimes, a recurring dilemma pops up in my mind. Not a fun thought to toss around, it's this:
"How would I respond in the case the martyrdom was required of me?"
More on that in a minute.
Morning Micro Lectures
This train of thought stopped by again prompted by our Noborito Dormitory worship service. We start our weekday-mornings with a hymn promptly at 7 am.
After our Bible reading (in Leviticus 15), residents give a micro-lecture. This speech involves anything that happens to be lingering at the top of their minds.
Past topics have included:
- Why Everyone Should Read Naruto
- Seasonal Customs in Okinawa For Kyuubon
- How We See Jesus in the Pentateuch
- The Necessity of Love in Relationships
(I'll let you guess which topic was mine.)
This week, a student's chosen topic was The Heinz Dilemma. It's quite the moral reasoning problem; of the same family as my recurring idea.
Trying to sort out the Japanese version of Heinz's story, my friend showed me an English version.
The Heinz Dilemma
The story is as follows:
Heinz is in a serious bind, his wife is on her deathbed. The cure for her illness is a $2000 drug. Heinz can't purchase it alone, or gain enough money in loans from friends to cover the cost. He has $1000.
Mr. Doctor is charging a steep x10 markup for his $200 drug. No compromise from the Doc either. Apparently, no other options. Our Doctor will only accept the full price.
The dilemma presented to you is: Heinz can steal the cure or watch his wife die. What should Heinz do and why?
There are six reasoning categories offered as the general responses possible to give. Each positive and negative answer has one stage of reasoning. You can look them up here if you like.
The problem and responses reveal something major about the nature of these dilemmas.
Unsolvable moral dilemmas, in particular, seem to assume two things:
- The absence, apathy, or inability of a higher power to intervene. I.E. A God or spiritual dimension doesn't or shouldn't get factored in.
- You have a situation with very limited (poor) choices. Those choices here are either theft or grim resignation. This presupposes that miracles are impossible, do not happen, or would be unavailable for poor Heinz. Even though Heinz, after all, is able to pray.
This is fascinating because it highlights monumental differences in the way people view what is moral. Clearly, there are vastly different views of what is even possible.
These views coexist in different minds on the same planet, in the same neighborhood blocks.
These differences are so massive, that we need to decide something else first about the dilemma: Does Heinz live in our real-world or in an alternate reality?
This is why this problem bothered me.
Based on my trust in Jesus' actual, physical resurrection. I believe the Heinz dilemma (as presented) is a problem in an alternate reality.
This alternate reality seems to match the world that Ecclesiastes assumes.
"I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race." Ecclesiastes 1:13 NLT (Emphasis Added)
The teacher in Ecclesiastes takes everything in Heaven out of the equation for his study. This includes the removal of God and the supernatural. It's little surprise his book continually claims the lack of clarity and vanity in everything.
I believe Heinz inhabits a universe with different moral obligations that need completely separate moral reasoning categories.
The problem isn't necessarily simpler with God in the picture, but it is much more hopeful.
Heinz should pray. He should get his friends to pray and trust God to heal his wife. Stealing is not at all a necessity to see his wife saved. His wife's life on earth is also not the most important thing on the line.
Theft in the Biblical universe bears the much heavier cost of sin, being offensive to God.
It's then a matter of time and God's sovereign planning after Heinz prays. The Lord can (and does) heal immediately, gradually, or partially. Sometimes He does not.
One of the most hopeful parts of the world (I believe) we live in is this: God will heal all the sickness in the world eventually. Whether He does now or in the resurrection before final judgment is completely up to Him.
Faith is indispensable. There are moral dilemmas that we can create ourselves, if we assume a world without a caring, involved God.
Back to martyrdom.
Let's assume a dilemma where martyrdom is something that we must face.
We can face it in at least two realities:
- the one in which Christ is not really with us and we actually face everything alone
- the one where Jesus' says he "will never leave us or forsake us"
I believe the Bible grounds us in a real-world with Romans 8. God promises there he does the heavy lifting and sustaining of our faith through any trial in Jesus.
We know it's not easy to see things this way all the time.
A struggle of faith is seeing the world as it truly is when we have free will to see it any way we want to.
Let's keep building our faith on our friendship with Jesus, and knowledge of his Word, friends.
What do you think about Heinz's dilemma? Have you found any imaginary problems?