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A Christian's Response to the Heinz Dilemma

Chris from Kansas City - 16 February 2006
"The Heinz Dilemma has only one simple honest right answer for Christians. It should be stated, explained and then allowed to stand alone."
My Comments: I received the above feedback on my article "Kohlberg's Stages - Explained & Illustrated". It's a pity that Chris did not leave an email address; if he did, I would contact him as I would like to hear his view on what is that simple honest right answer.

Nevertheless Chris' feedback causes me to think "What should be the biblical response to the Heinz Dilemma?" I will post my thoughts at the end of March. Meanwhile (and even after end March) I would like to hear what you all think ... send your views via the Feedback Form!

Nick from Tulsa - 22 February 2006
It should be obvious to all what Chris's position is. Doesn't one of the commandments say something about not stealing?

Chris appears to be on the low end of the development scale. It looks like s/he has made it all the way up to Stage 2 (of 6):

In the second stage of faith (mythical-literal), children tend to respond to religious stories and rituals literally, rather than symbolically As individuals move through adolescence to young adulthood, their beliefs continue to be based on authority focused outside themselves.

In this third stage of faith (synthetic-conventional), individuals tend to have conformist acceptance of a belief with little self-reflection on examination of these beliefs. Most people remain at this level (Fowler, 1981; Kelly, 1995).
My Thoughts: Are persons who can verbalize, conceptualize and personalize their faith better than those who are simple in trusting and obeying?

Maryann DiPietro from Cortlandt Manor - 27 February 2006
I do not think that you might be reading Chris's response in the correct way. As a Christian one of the biggest and most important rule, belief, commandment is to love thy neighbor as you would yourself. If we all remembered this simple thought there would be no murder, no stealing. Everyone would treat one another as they should and understand that we are all somehow responsible for each other.

How could the pharmacist view money over the importance of life and one of his "neighbors?"

Ginelle from Flint, Michigan - 28 February 2006
If Heinz is a Christian, he should not steal the drug because the God is our healer and deliverer, not some drug. Besides, if his wife is a Christian as well, what benefit is there to her to stay on this earth rather than be in heaven? Yes, Brown if approached, should tell what he saw because it is the truth, and God states clearly that he hates lying. Yes, Heinz should go to jail, because every action has a consequence. Good or bad.

Ann Edwards from London - 4 March 2006
I would steal the drug to heal my wife.

6th Grade Religious Class
    Christ Prince of Peace Elementary School
from Manchester, MO - 6 March 2006
Two opinions presented:

  • Respecting and preserving life is more important than stealing; Heinz should steal. Don't doctors take an oath to protect life whenever possible? The best thing for the husband to do is to steal the medicine, give it to his wife and then turn himself in. If he really loves his wife then going to jail is insignificant and honorable.

  • Flip side - Stealing is wrong and if he accepts his wife's death then he'll just enjoy whatever time left he has. Aren't we supposed to want to die to get to heaven?

Malcolm Housley, 14 year old - Home Schooler from Winlock, Washington - 10 March 2006
Heinz stealing of the medication has numerous issues.

  1. The first question should be, is man or God the giver of moral Law(s)? If one is a Christian, God is the giver of moral law since God is all knowing and all powerful. God is God and Man is not. Heinz should have prayed to God first and asked God to provide by changing the doctor's mind/heart, his financial state, or the condition of his wife's health. If his wife died, Heinz's answer obviously would have been, "No, I want her in heaven".

  2. Secondly, Heinz stealing of the medication is violating God's moral law, showing His lack of faith and violating his friend's trust.

  3. Lastly, he should go to jail since God's scripture states that evil should be, and will be, punished. Jesus' parable of the sower and the seed (Matt 13:1-8, 18-23) or the faith of the centurion, (Matt 8:5-13) points out the error in Heinz's actions.

Julia from Paducah, KY - 18 March 2006
The officer should not have turned his friend in.

Heinz tried to pay what he could, and was turned away. He needed this medicine for his wife to live. I don't think what he did was wrong.

Patrick from Belfast, Ireland - 21 March 2006
Is Christianity not another form of rules that people conform to? Although I am a Catholic I see weakness in our religion. All forms of Christainty believe their religion is Christ's way. I have a funny feeling Jesus Christ didnt expect us to turn out this way. Our own greed leaves us to believe we own goods. Moses's gave us the commandments to give a bit of rule in a time when consumerism and wealth was not an issue but society has changed, we use these rules for our own greed and power now.

If this wasn't the case the developing countries would not be facing such poverty and the so called rich countries have such power.

Life is life and I believe law needs to change on moral issues. Or else we are all doomed. Sometimes I wonder, "Are we living in the matrix?" We go out to work, go to bed, go out to work, go to bed, never wanting to challange why we let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. By just living our routine we let our governments destroy the world.

Anybody who would not challange power and rules in the modern era only conform to the way our governments want us to act. Where is the moral to have children living and dying on our streets, while our governments are more concerned about where our next batch of oil is coming from.

Think Moses needs to come down and give us another ten commandments, ones that are not based on rules but conscious humanistic values and morals.

Alan S.L. Wong from Singapore - 29 March 2006
  1. Heinz should not steal the drug because the Bible prohibits stealing.

    18 ... And Jesus said, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER;
    Matt 19:18
    Someone may object, "Stealing (the drug) is such a small sin (price to pay) compared to the great value of a saving a person's (Heinz's wife) life!" But ...

    10 For whoever keeps the whole law
    and yet stumbles in one point,
    he has become guilty of all.
    Jas 2:10
    A break in the fence means a broken fence. It does not matter whether the break is a small hole or a big hole; the fence is broken!

    Christians must not forget that the price of sin requires satisfaction by the blood of Christ.

  2. Heinz should try his utmost to save his wife because the Bible commands husbands to love their wives.

    25 Husbands, love your wives,
    just as Christ also loved the church
    and gave Himself up for her,

    28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.
    He who loves his own wife loves himself;
    Eph 5:25,28
    Heinz should try to save his wife ...

    1. By faith in God ... with prayers

      16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another,
      and pray for one another
      so that you may be healed
      The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

      17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours,
      and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain,
      and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.

      18 Then he prayed again,
      and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
      Jas 5:16-18
      Know that the LORD loves us; He is in control of all situations; and He is all-powerful ... that nothing is too difficult for Him.
      11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
      how much more will your Father who is in heaven
      give what is good to those who ask Him!
      Matt 7:11

      17 Ah Lord GOD!
      Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth
      by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm!
      Nothing is too difficult for You ...
      Jer 32:17
    2. By works (i.e., actions that are not in violation of Scriptures)

      28 He who steals must steal no longer;
      but rather he must labor,
      performing with his own hands what is good,
      so that he will have something to share with one who has need.

      Eph 4:28
      Often we think we have explored all possible solutions to our problem at hand but in our perplexed state of the mind, we may not think clearly. Seek other people's views and help.
      22 Without consultation, plans are frustrated,
      But with many counselors they succeed.
      Prov 15:22
The above is how I think a Christian should respond if confronted with the same moral dilemma. To be true followers of Christ, Christians must make the decision to submit to God's will, to live their lives in accordance to the Word of God NOT according to the world's values and beliefs, NOR our feelings and NOT according to our desires.

Jesus sets an example of obedience to God's will
39 And He (Jesus) went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed,
saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me;
yet not as I will, but as You will."
Matt 26:39
  • If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me = Jesus' desire was for a release from the coming outpouring of God's wrath for man's sins on Him.

  • Yet not as I will, but as You will = Nevertheless, He was willing to submit to the Father's will

... and He did; Jesus submitted to suffering and death on the cross to save us.
8 ... He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Phil 2:8
It is important that Christians learn to be obedient to the Word of God.
24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them,
may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

25 "And the rain fell, and the floods came,
and the winds blew and slammed against that house;
and yet it did not fall,
for it had been founded on the rock.

26 "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them,
will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

27 "The rain fell, and the floods came,
and the winds blew and slammed against that house;
and it fell -- and great was its fall."
Matt 7:24-27
I have chosen to focus on Scenario 1 and not to explore further.

Matt from Cincinnati - 29 March 2006
It's all the insurance company's fault! Seriously, this is a dilemma that confronts us everyday in a thousand ways. What's the difference, morally, between stealing from the pharmacist and speeding in our car? Breaking the law is breaking the law. I see nothing in Scripture that elevates one sin over another.

That being said, I take the drug, give it to my wife and plead guilty in court, with no trial. As a Christian, I must understand that my choice, my sin, has consequences and I must willingly bear the earthly consequences of my actions. Will Christ forgive even willful and deliberate sin? Of course. Do I scheme and manipulate and try to evade the consequences of my actions? No, I should hope not. If the judge chooses to set me free, fine. Should I expect or hope for that? No.

This is the Christian response to the dilemma.

Nokuthula Bhengu from South Africa - 20 August 2007
On the heinz issue, my comment is that morality and what is right do not always go together. Stealing is morally wrong but if it is done to save someone's life, without costing antother person's life then stealing should be overlooked depending on the context such as this one.

(1) What do you think? (2) What would you do if you were Heinz?

A Christian's Response to the Heinz Dilemma 2006 Alan S.L. Wong