We have some fictional heroes who in real life aren’t really heroes. Remember Robin Hood who with his band of Merry Men and their own clergyman Friar Tuck would give to the poor. That is admirable. However, to give to the poor they had to first rob the rich. Not so virtuous.

Scripture addresses this issue. Paul was falsely accused of doing wrong and responds by saying, “Let us do evil so that good may come of it”? Their condemnation [by God] is just.” (Romans 3: 8) [AMP]

A distillation of that is do not evil that good may come. At issue is does the end justify the means? To the point, should we endorse an immoral act if we think some good may result from it?”

Now, an application of the principle. The DarkSide is a band of international genesis cyber thieves who foiled the Colonial Pipeline Company, shut it down, and reputedly demanded ransom that they would allegedly use for what they consider a good cause or causes. Is doing that a good thing?

There are some truly wicked people who seem to take delight in doing evil for its own sake. Aristotle called them vicious, or in extreme cases, “beastlike.” The DarkSide appear to be such. If the true proposed end of their deed, to do good, were really known it might not be so virtuous. The charity they reputedly give to may be the wife of one of the leaders.

(As an aside when the Colonial Pipeline was being built through our part of south Mississippi Jerry Clower, remember him, told me he sat on a hillside watching them clear the path of the project and said to himself, “When I grow up I am going to get me a good job like blowing stumps.” He got a good job, a very good job, as one of the best standup comics of his era.)

Morality has consistently frowned on the rational of doing evil that good might result. It obviously opens the door to moral chaos. Certain acts are recognized as inherently evil – slavery, adultery, the sexual abuse of children, the direct killing of the innocent, etc. They are incapable of being justified through appeal to motive, extenuating circumstances or results.

It is the personal gray area which we individually need to closely guard. Most persons at sometime have done the wrong thing and justified it by saying,“I’m not really proud of what I did, but at least it brought about some good consequences.” An old adage applies, two wrongs don’t make a right. Echoing the truth, “Never do wrong in order to get an opportunity to do right.”

The moral quagmire that constitutes our current culture offers many opportunities to compromise. It was John Bunyan who had a rare moral standard. When offered his release from a dungeon who said, “I will stay in this prison until the moss grows out of my eyebrows before I will make a butchery of my conscience or a slaughterhouse of my convictions.” That is morality on steroids.

If doing wrong in order to get a chance to do right is allowed to proliferate in our society,

the intellectual support for our moral system gives way automatically.

William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, said, “Wrong is wrong though all be for it, and right is right though all be against it.”

That thought is held in derision by many, but new life needs to be breathed into it.

The Rev. Dr. Nelson L. Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.


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