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View Diary: the issue of conscience versus dogma (50 comments)

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  •  Regardless of the source of your beliefs (1+ / 0-)
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    Pandoras Box

    You will always find a tension between what you believe to be morally true and how you must act.

    One of the lesser known and most tragic tales of the Old Testament is that of a man named Jephthah who made a stupid promise.

    Jephthah's Tragic Vow
    29Now the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, so that he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon.

    30Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, "If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand,

    31then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering."

    ... SNIP ...

    34When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter.

    35When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are among those who trouble me; for I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot take it back."

    36So she said to him, "My father, you have given your word to the LORD; do to me as you have said, since the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon."

    37She said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go to the mountains and weep because of my virginity, I and my companions."

    38Then he said, "Go." So he sent her away for two months; and she left with her companions, and wept on the mountains because of her virginity.

    39At the end of two months she returned to her father, who did to her according to the vow which he had made; and she had no relations with a man. Thus it became a custom in Israel,

    40that the daughters of Israel went yearly to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.

    Jephthah made a solemn promise and believed he had to keep his word. And therefore he slaughtered his daughter.

    I would say, by the light that is in me, that he should have broken his promise and faced the consequences. But your mileage may differ.

    And that's where we will ALL find ourselves from time to time. In a place where the principles we believe in lead us to do something we don't really believe we ought to do - because our principles don't match the real world perfectly.

    In Christian terms, a bunch of fallen sinners living in a world where the laws and customs and religions are all the work of other fallen sinners should expect a life of difficult choices.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:10:35 PM PST

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