Ends Justifying Means

11 Dec

Did you make the correct decision? I must admit there are few questions I hear that I believe are more difficult to answer with regularity than this one. When you believe that ends-based correctness determination does not work, you are required to evaluate other things to determine if it was the correct decision.

For example, believing fervently in Romans 8:28, I necessarily believe that everything will in fact work together for my ultimate good, and that even those things which were intended with terrible intentions will be able to be redeemed. I am also readily aware of my own depravity and that I am, in fact, prone to sin, even after I accept the gift of God.

Because of this, it is never acceptable to me to determine if the correct decision was made based only on how it works. I do frequently watch sports, and while the argument is more acceptable there, there are certainly times where the totality of the situation is not addressed by that answer. Many times the answer you would get from that analysis is the incorrect answer.

In short, I almost always take the view that the ends do not justify the means, as it seems that often the morals behind the end which you are trying to achieve are frequently undermined by the immorality of the actions taken unto that end. Therefore, things are not always as they appear; it is sometimes a matter of perception.

This is also even more evident when you begin with doing something for someone else. If the reaction is proper, we may be tempted to say that we have a de facto justification. I think we all know situations where a parent, for example, has given their child too much rope. Similarly, we might be tempted to say that a decision was incorrect, merely because it didn’t work out the way we wanted.

It is in that situation that I have found myself recently. A few people have questioned whether or not I should have done it. While I understand their questioning and I am readily aware that with hindsight, things might have been different, I also know that those arguments alone will never convince me whether or not I made the proper decision.

I guess I believe that it is not just the ends that are laid out for me, but that the means to those ends are also appointed. This is vitally important, and is something I feel is too often attacked in culture. If the ends were all that mattered, wouldn’t doctor assisted suicide be a more favorable option? If ends based decision making were all that mattered, an uncaught criminal would be OK.

No, I am persuaded that the means to get to a decision are vitally important, and that sometimes an unfavorable conclusion to a line of logic or action is the correct way to go. While our eyes may only see results, we should be prepared to comprehend that sometimes results are deceiving. Sometimes we may never see the guy who is completely unprepared and unethical get a negative result, but that can never justify it.

Ours is not to set the results of the independent action, and for that, I am exceedingly grateful. I have enough trouble making sure my family is reasonably prepared, that determining the ends of everyone else’s actions would not only be unfruitful, but also usurping God’s authority. So, the next time we try to use the results as a reason to change the process, think about the fact that is not an acceptable way to make decisions.


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