Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Love does no harm to anyone


April 22, 2020

You’ve probably been confronted with those hypothetical, impossible, moral quandaries that force you into having to choose between two horrific options.

Which child would you save? Do you bring the 60-year-old man into the life raft with you, or the 20-year-old, pregnant addict? Or, your bomb shelter can accommodate three more, so which of these five do you invite?

As one preacher has pointed out, the people posing these scenarios get really irritated if you say something like, “I’ll get out of the boat so both these others can be saved.”

In the real world, God never puts us in situations where we have to sin in order to affect a “greater good.” That’s not how any of this works.

You don’t have to commit a crime to do a good deed. You can’t injure one neighbor for the sake of loving your other neighbor.

Sure, sometimes people wind up doing the wrong thing with good intentions. The thief steals bread because he’s hungry. That may mitigate his punishment, but theft remains a crime.

What I’m getting at is this: If you want to love your neighbor, and someone convinces you that the only way to love them is to harm another one of your neighbors, we can all be certain that you have been deceived on that point.

Romans 13:10 is a handy, ethical guideline here. “Love does no harm to a neighbor.”

If you’re harming someone, do not lie to yourself, or walk away thinking you’re full of virtue. You didn’t love your neighbor. The injury he just suffered at your hands is proof positive against you.

Even if you’re really, really, really terrified, you don’t get to harm one for the sake of the other.

If we apply this biblical ethic to the current situation, I think we’ve jumped the tracks by doing actual damage to a large portion of our neighbors, in order to maybe, hopefully, make another neighbor’s life less risky.

In past plagues, Christians earned a good reputation by going to the sick ones, the contagious ones (who had often been abandoned by their own, fearful families), and doing what they could to minister to them at the point of their greatest need. Yes, some of them died doing this.

They were willing, because they believed they had been saved by one who met them at their lowest point, and was willing to lay down his life for them. Because Jesus was raised, death was no longer that big a threat to them.

This is a different attitude than the one that is willing to plunge a large segment of society into abject poverty for the sake of (maybe) keeping some from an infection. I’ve never, by the way, seen a member of that economically sacrificed group volunteer for it.

Let’s use common-sense measures of distance and hygiene to protect each other. And, let’s set our neighbors free to pursue their livelihood.

Gordan Runyan is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tucumcari. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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