by Josh Ketchum
Christians value courage. Americans esteem courage. We seek to be courageous and teach our kids to be courageous.
So this has formed a natural link in our minds that courage is always right and good.
Being courageous isn’t necessarily right or good. Just because someone has courage, in the sense that they do something that takes guts and bravado to stand up against a majority or perceived enemy, doesn’t mean it is a praiseworthy act. Christians must not fall to the trap of branding every courageous deed a right and good action. We live in a culture that is quick to praise courage. Standing up against societal taboos or “going against the flow” is praised as courage, no matter whether the action is morally right or wrong.
For example, I can list numerous acts in the Bible and in history that required courage on the person’s part, but were not righteous or good acts.
Here are a few biblical examples:
• Jacob deceiving his father Isaac when he was old and poor of sight.
• Aaron leading the people to give their gold to build a golden calf to be worshipped while Moses was on Mount Sinai.
• Samson visiting a harlot in a Philistine city leading to a trap, which required him to tear down the gates to free himself.
• Absalom’s rebellion against David.
• Paul’s persecution of Christians.
• The actions of Diotrephes in opposing John the Apostle and putting people out of the church so he could have preeminence in the church.
Here are a couple from history.
• John Wilkes Booth actions of shooting President Lincoln where viewed by many in the south as a courageous act.
• The terrorist who commandeered the airplanes on 911 and flew them into various targets were courageous in deed.
Christians need to understand this truth. We don’t need to just throw every supposedly courageous act in as being righteous and good. We also don’t need to go into foolishness by saying it doesn’t take courage to stand up against the crowd. But standing up for what is wrong is still wrong!
Let me give you a few examples from our current culture.
• A young woman courageously decides to abort her unborn child. She goes public with this decision and uses it as an opportunity to argue for the rights of women. While it may be courageous, abortion is still morally wrong!
• A person comes out with family and friends on social media as being homosexual. He or she describes their life as trying to live a lie, but now, they finally have the courage to come out and be who God made them to be. While certainly courageous, homosexuality is still a sexual sin and lifestyle opposed to Scripture.
• A celebrity chooses to pose nude for a magazine, or appear in filthy love scene in a movie, and is described as courageous for stepping out of her typical role and pushing the envelop. Immodesty and lewd behavior is still sinful behavior, even if it takes courage to take your clothes off!
Each of these, and more, could illustrate the truth that Christian people must always openly consider the righteousness and holiness of an act by itself. Just because it required courage or fortitude for someone to do the act, doesn’t make it a righteous act. It may still be a sinful act, that is wrong in the eyes of God.
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)