So first scenario: A guy comes to you and puts a gun to your head, telling you to renounce your Christian faith or he’ll kill you. Let’s assume for a moment that obliging and living or refusing and dying are your only options, and you can’t whip out some awesome kung-fu to get away from your attacker without answering.
I think it’s been well established and we’d all agree that refusing to renounce your faith, even at the cost of your life, would be courageous and praiseworthy and good, even if no one would blame you at all for chickening out.
But let’s try a second scenario: The guy comes up to you and puts a gun to the head of the person next to you - perhaps they’re a family member or friend, or even just a stranger off the street - and looks at you and tells you to renounce your Christian faith or he’ll kill that other person. Again, let’s assume that no other rescue of that person is possible.
At this point, would refusing to renounce your faith even be good and praiseworthy, since the life you’d be surrendering is not yours to surrender? If you chose to still refuse and that other person died, would Jesus be happy or disappointed with you?
This question came about after a discussion with my friend. We were watching a TV show (I think it was The Tudors) about King Henry VIII in which St Thomas More is a character. During the scene where More was telling his wife that he was going to refuse to swear allegiance to the king as the head of the Church of England, my friend commented that he was being selfish, considering how much danger he was putting his family in by doing this, and didn’t consider his decision praiseworthy. I disagreed, but it did bring this issue to mind and I was wondering what other people thought about it.