Moral Dilemma

*There is a man who has arranged for three people to be killed. There is only one way you could stop it from happening: If you jump off the building you’re standing on, killing yourself.

I’m thinking you should not jump…


I do not see a dilemma. To give your life for another to live is not suicide. Father Kolbe gave his life for others and was granted sainthood. I just fear and pray for the grace, strength and bravery needed to do such a thing for another. I pray that all us christians would be willing to die for another.

I think there’s a distinction between “giving up” your life and deliberately taking it yourself.

The hypothetical situation is kind of vague, so I’d simply say you shouldn’t do anything to directly kill yourself, but you can allow others to kill you as a sacrifice. Obvious example is Jesus on the Cross. He didn’t nail himself to the cross!

hmm…Father Kolbe stood in for a man who was condemned to death in the concentration camp.

Of course. But he didn’t lock himself in a starvation bunker. Or give himself the lethal injection administered to him at the end. That’s the distinction I’m trying to make here. It’s fine to “lay down one’s life” so to speak, but not okay to directly take it.

In such a situation, how would jumping save the other people?

Good point, however allowing someone to kill you just to prevent him from murdering others is, in principle, sanctioning murder and suicide. It’s true that Father Kolbe sacrificed his life for Franciszek Gajowniczek, but he was also resisting a crime against humanity. There needs to be a greater issue at stake, IMO, than three lives, before it is morally justifiable to offer your arm for a lethal injection.

But it is possible to morally preform an action that will save others that will obviously result in your death (eg, stepping in front of a sword thrust).

I do agree that there is not enough information though. So if you jumped off the building in order to get an angle so that you could pull a James Bond move and shoot something at a bomb that would disable it, knowing that you would die, I think that would be permissible. (Action with unintended, undesired, though foreseen, evil side effect.)

I do not know if it would be moral to jump off because some bad guy desires your death and will do bad things unless you cause it. I lean towards no, but am unsure.

Yeah, the example is bogus, but that’s a flaw in his ability to make an example that would encapsulate what he wanted to ask; which I think is obvious.

Anyways, yeah, barring the failures of the example, jumping would presumably be the right thing to do.

I think that for you to voluntarily take your own life is quite different from someone killing you so I think that you should maybe choose to not jump.

Additionally, I would not be so trusting that this guy (who is threatening to kill people) would actually not kill them anyways even after you jumped.

SO there is a guy who want to murder three people yet somehow you believe his word is is bond. I can almost guarantee he will kill them anyway. So four people would die instead of three.
How about the guy standing on top of a building debating if he should throw himself off is a FBI trained sniper and takes out the other guy.:wink:

That is the problem with these types of “dilemmas”

Yes, that’s what I’ve been trying to say. Directly taking your life (i.e. stabbing yourself) is not morally acceptable. Indirectly taking your life (i.e. stepping in front of a sword thrust to save someone) is morally permissible.

I’m confused why you thought I’d stated otherwise, but hopefully that clears things up! :slight_smile:

Hmm, you raise a good point. Even if one indirectly allows their death, there has to be reasonable cause for it. Otherwise it would just be being reckless with your own life.

I guess that’s the moral dilemma right there. It’s impossible to answer without a firm understanding of the circumstances.

I guess I’d say that as long the intention is good (i.e. to save an innocent life) and the act doesn’t involve you directly taking your own life (i.e. shooting yourself as opposed to being shot), then it is morally permissible. Whether or not it is what God wills is really between that person and God.

You should trust that God will take care of the 3 people who are in danger. Pray for them and if it His will that they not die (at least not today) they will not. You can not take things into your own hands by killing yourself- trust. IHMO

I’m thinking prayer should be the Christian’s first response - in every scenario.

How about this as an alternate dilemma:

You’re in a country that has…shall we say, “looser” restrictions on organ transplants. You meet a family of three people all with a familial disorder that is causing their livers to fail. They can be saved by a liver transplant; you are compatible donor for all three, they will all surely die very soon if they don’t receive a transplant, there are no other donors, and you will surely die if you donate enough liver tissue for all three.

The crux of the dilemma, as others have identified, is to determine whether the action and intention is to “lay down one’s life” for others, or directly taking one’s own life. Same result, you die, different action.

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