Is it Morally Permissible to Compromise Our Faith to Spare the Lives of Others?


Hello all. One of my favorite inspiring stories of martyrdom comes from the Bible. It is about how a mother and her seven sons were all horrifically tortured and died painful deaths but still held on to their Faith. The full story is in the link below:

I liked this story because it was a demonstration of uncompromising devotion to God in the face of suffering and death. I especially liked it because the martyrs all held on to the faith, suffered, and died as a family. I hope that my family and I, too, would be willing to the same. But this is where my question arises.

Let’s just say that, for the sake of humor, that an alien race has come down from a distant galaxy to impose their religious beliefs on the Earth. The punishment for not converting to their, literally, alien faith and by not abiding by their rituals is death by having your brains eaten while still alive. The alien enforcers then come to your parish and ask you, your family, your friends, and all your fellow parishioners to sign a document which reads:

“Jesus Christ is not my Savior. The Catholic Church is not the one, true Church. Abortion is ok. Gay marriage is, too. Contraceptives are good. Cloning is divine. Mercy-killing is ethical. Nothing wrong with embryonic stem-cell research. And so on…”

The aliens also threaten to kill the whole entire parish if eve one person does not sign the document. In this situation, not all the people of the parish are willing to die or sacrifice the lives of their loved ones (they were either liberal Catholics, secretly of another faith, they were just scared for their lives and the lives of their loved ones, or some other reason). Everyone before you has already signed the document and now it comes to you. Should you sign the contract or not?

My question to you is “Is it morally permissible to compromise our faith to save the lives of others?” I know I just gave you a far-fetched situation, but, I am sure after reading up on the histories of Catholic Christian martyrdom, that you would find at least one example of something similar to this. Please cite the Catechism, Bible, etc. I thank you all in advance.


First off Pope Francis directed us to baptize aliens. (Look it up) And second, why would one person not witness to Christ to save an earthly life or lives? Is it this world we live for or the next?


Two passages from Scripture to keep in mind:

Romans 3:8 – “And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.”

Luke 12:8-9 – “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”

From this I infer that we must not do evil in order that good may result, and it is evil to deny the Son before men. Therefore, I think we must not sign the document denying Jesus Christ in order to save others’ lives. Do you agree that that conclusion follows from those passages?


What good would it do to save other lives and lose your soul? Eternity is FOREVER!


You might ask the question to those Christians threatened by ISIS in the real world. I pray their answer is a resounding NO. (I desperately pray my answer would be the same.)


Dude, the brain has no pain receptors.
Your aliens are out of touch.

I would explain the faith to them and maybe some of them would convert,.
Remember the true story of the Christians condemned to freeze to death on a frozen lake, guarded by Roman soldiers? They were singing hymns which the soldiers could hear. One soldier stripped naked and ran out to join them.


I would say what they told me to, but would not really mean any of it. God knows what is in our hearts and minds. Saving lives is worth reciting garbage that I don’t mean.


Does that go for the Christians in the middle east facing persecution and death? All they have to do is profess something they don’t really believe right?

Have you ever heard of Shadrach Meshach and Abednego? All they had to do was say some garbage that they did not mean.


Romans 3:4-8 says that we must not lie in order to bring about good results. Don’t you think that includes not lying in order to save lives? And isn’t that what you are saying you would do?


(ignoring that there are no intelligent aliens)

No such would not be licit.


We all use that term, saving lives, but we don’t really ever save a life in that sense of the word, because ultimately we all die. We just help them to stay on this earth awhile longer. It’s eternal life that matters.

Maybe God doesn’t care what you say as long as you believe in Him and love Him, but Scripture indicates that you are to put God above all…even your years on this earth and the years of others. None of us stays here.


Suppose I were the first person asked ti sign–I would not know how the others would react. I would of course have to assume they would all cooperate with the grace God would be sending. So, I would refuse to sign.

The fact that I am at the end of the line and therefore know that they have not done so makes no difference. I must take my action of refusing, just as I would if only I were involved.

There are some actions we have to consider in isolation, even when they are taken in group circumstances or with group repercussions.

They each made their decisions despite knowing that if someone further along refused, they woudl die. They threw away their own souls on the miniscule chance that no one would refuse! And I should cooperate with their treason to Christ, Who died for us?

I can only hope that if i am even in this sort of position I will have the strength to persevere!


I am inclined to agree.

The demonstration of your faith at the expense of innocent lives is of questionable virtue.

I can imagine no higher honor than being martyred for Christ. Ι do not think, however, that I could willingly martyr my wife and daughter for anything.


The people who suffered the consequences were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego–not their families. They took the risk with their own lives, not with the lives of others.


First, I don’t think it is correct to say that you are martyring your wife and daughter in this situation. It’s not your fault they are killed.

Second, how do you deal with Romans 3:8? It teaches that we must not do evil in order that good may come. Isn’t this a classic case of denying our faith in order that someone else may not commit murder?


The thing is, they’re **not **innocent: they have rejected Our Lord.


Israel was not the only group who put people under The Ban. It would have been quite common to kill not only the families but any living relatives. The bible and history are full of this type of thing. Moses spoke for his faith and many died. Early Christian martyrs did as well. Not only do you not know that it was only those three speaking for their own lives, it most likely was not.

I am currious with your thought process though and I have two questions.

  1. Do you think the Christian martyrs of today in Iraq are acting incorrectly by not sparing their own children’s lives by “converting”?

  2. Do you think the charge to spread the gospel should be suspended if there is danger to you or your family?

And If so, how do you reconcile that to the great saints of the past. Those who we hold up as ways to get to heaven. There is no lying saint who refused to speak the Truth in order to save lives…


No. I’m not their judge. God bless them. Let us pray for them.

  1. Do you think the charge to spread the gospel should be suspended if there is danger to you or your family?

No, but there is room to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves–know when to stand, and know when to flee. Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to stay put in cities where they were not welcome, but to leave, for example. And someone once said something like, “Preach the gospel wherever you go, and when it’s necessary, use words.”

And If so, how do you reconcile that to the great saints of the past. Those who we hold up as ways to get to heaven. There is no lying saint who refused to speak the Truth in order to save lives…

I defer to your knowledge of the history of the saints, but I have a general sense that one does not need to rise to the level of formal sainthood to make it to heaven.

In these kinds of hypothetical situations, I would like to believe in my own spiritual heroism, but I also believe in being realistic in my self-expectation.


Saints are those who are in heaven. If you go to heaven you will be a saint. The Church chooses to canonize those who have been revealed to be in heaven and God does this so we can have examples of how to live our lives. I highly encourage you to read about the saints. Especially those who have given their lives for the message. Honestly I would encourage you to start with a certain Blessed.

To me, it would be a privlege to have me or my children die in the name of Jesus. I pray for the courage to be able to never lose my faith.

You should think also how important a thing this is. It is the single most important commandment. To love the Lord your God above all else. That means more than your life or the lives of others. And God takes this seriously. Because he tells us to not have other gods before him. Not even to save our own lives. And he also takes what we call him seriously. We are not to use His name in a less than Holy way. And, since that is a mortal issue I think this would be as well. God guards what we say about Him so highly that we can damn ourselves because of it. I think that applies as well when denying him.

Peter, our first Pope and Christs dear friend denied him three times, but Peter repented three times. And that scared coward that denied Him, ended up dying for Him upside down on a Cross a short time later because he did not feel worthy to have the same death as Jesus. But the important part was that he realized that he sinned, and he Repented to the risen Jesus.

Not only that but Judas denied Christ not for the money, because he gave that back, but probably for his life and the life of others. (the apostles)

And Jesus was a stickler for words meaning things. In John, Chapter 6, many people walk away from Jesus, Jesus does not say something to bring them back, to make it easier to hear. He Turns to his apostles and asks if they will leave him and the apostles answer that it is a hard teaching, but where else will they go.

Their payment? Death. Every apostle was killed except John. And during history, especially under Diocletian, Nero and even Muslims, Kings and English rulers. These families died not just for Jesus, but for the Catholic faith. And what you deem as shrewd, I deem as cowardice. It certainly is not a Holy action to deny God Himself for ANY reason whatsoever.

I find it odd you used the word Judge when talking about those who are losing their lives right now for the very faith you would so readily deny.:eek:
I pray that we all have the strength to Love the Lord our God. And pick up our Crosses. That is not just an example of suffering but of extreme persecution.

What we have here is a clear example of a wide gate and a narrow gate. I pray I will always choose the narrow gate.


If they died because I am too proud of my own spiritual purity to tell a fib that everyone knows is a fib, I would always feel responsible. You’ll notice that, in this scenario, the ‘fibs’ I am telling have (edit: MOSTLY) do with moral teachings–stem-cell research, etc–not specifically a denial of my faith.

Second, how do you deal with Romans 3:8? It teaches that we must not do evil in order that good may come. Isn’t this a classic case of denying our faith in order that someone else may not commit murder?

I agree with the statement of Romans 3.8, but I am reluctant to treat it as as a legally-binding proof text. The New Testament is not a Mosaic Law Part 2.

Weren’t there some early church fathers (Tertullian?) who broke with the Church because the institution forgave those Christians who had capitulated during the anti-Christian persecutions? The church has long had a pragmatic attitude about the salvation of souls, whereas some individuals have a tendency to think in black-and-white and to be unforgiving.

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