Friday, September 26, 2008

Faith on Friday

Our church is continuing the sermon series and Bible study on Abram/Abraham, this week focusing on Genesis 12:10-20 when Abram went to Egypt. This is one of those passages of Scripture that has bothered me. It doesn't alter my faith, but as a woman growing up in our time period, it really irritates me. My first reaction is, "What kind of a creep let's his wife be taken off by another man like that just to protect himself??!!" If you didn't read the passage, undoubtedly you now recognize it as the time Abram told Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister, but neglected to say that she was also his wife.

Apparently in the Egyptian culture of that time, adultery was unacceptable, but killing a man and taking his widow was okay. Okay! So, with that in mind, it is somewhat understandable, but it poses the question, "Is it ever okay to lie?" My gut response is to say quite emphatically, "NO!"

What Abram shared was only a half lie because Sarai was his half sister, but obviously the half not shared was important. What if telling the truth would cost someone's life? Gulp! That one is a little more difficult. I have never been placed in that position, but have met people who lived behind the Iron Curtain or survived the Holocaust in Europe and there were times for them when telling the truth or the whole truth would have had dire consequences.

Let me clearly state that I do not believe in "situational ethics", but I sure hope I am not put in the position of trying to decide that for myself. I am not sure that I can even answer my own question. Recently I studied both the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of John and so I thought about Jesus' responses to leadership. He never lied, but some times he never answered the question. Perhaps that would need to be my response if I were ever put in that type of position.

It's easy to judge Abram or other characters in the Bible and think, "How stupid are you?!" But we have the retrospect of time and scholarly wisdom, the indwelling Holy Spirit and the example of their historic mistakes. When I give it thought, I cannot be the one to cast the proverbial first stone.

Abram's biggest mistake was to rely on his own understanding and his own means, not God's. Doing this, he fell flat on his face. Poor Sarai and even Pharaoh and his household suffered the consequences of Abram's actions.

During my twenties, I made many mistakes like this. Fortunately (depending on how you look at it), I suffered most of the consequences. The fall out hit me. Nearly a decade was lost before I righted myself and listened fully to His voice. It is senseless to dwell on that time as He has forgiven me and there isn't much I can do now, but as I grow older, I realize how precious that time was that was lost. Like Abram, I failed the same "test" more than once. Like Abram, God blessed me afterwards in spite of myself and I do not take that for granted.

Proverbs 3:5-6 are verses I hold dear. I believe I have shared on here before that they are my life verses. The wisdom of the writer applies to Abram's situation and to my every waking hours, so I leave you with those thoughts:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

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