Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Cicero, Aristotle, Plutarch and Chaucer and others all said words to this effect. A humorous gloss comes from the movie Klondike Annie where Mae West says when given the choice of two evils, “I'll choose the one I never tried before.”
1 Thessalonians 5:22
Avoid every kind of evil.
abstain from every form of evil.
These isolated words from Paul's letter appear to directly contradict the notion that one must choose between two evils. While seeking what is good, we are to flee evil in all its forms. Yet life is not always so simple. For instance, if we want to buy soap and we have some soap companies that exploit labor and others that hurt the environment and still others that harm animals in testing, are we then required to make our own soap or are we able to study the companies and choose the one that causes the least harm in making its soap? While I could offer about 50 or more scriptures that point to this kind of “all or nothing” approach to good and evil, it is interesting that the conservative technology guru and blogger, Rod Martin, offers a challenge to such thinking. He talks about the elections of Absalom, David and Solomon as Kings of Israel, and the crowning of Rehoboam, as examples where abstract perfectionism is overcome by limited choices and the need for pragmatism. Abstain from every evil in theory? And choose the least evil in practice? Perhaps this is a common ground that holds together the hopes and desires we share with the realities we all face.