Can circumstances change morality?

In Exodus 1, God blessed some woman for lying, because their lies saved the first born Hebrews. There are other examples of people lying in the Old Testament and it being a good thing.

So, can morality be relative depending on circumstances? I know sin can change from grave to venial depending on circumstances, but in that example I used, God blessed them, not just excused their lies.

Dear Christipher,

There is such a thing as objective truth. So there is also such a thing as objective morality. However, the morality of a subjective action can be affected by many factors, i.e., the knowledge or ignorance of those involved, their freedom to act, etc.

In the case of Exodus, the Egyptians were telling the greater lie, i.e. that the children they were killing did not deserve to live. The women who saved the children were being faithful to the greater truth, i.e. the children indeed deserved to live. By protecting the children they countered the lie with the truth of the children’s worth.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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