Moral Choices Made Real

This morning a tweet hit me like a punch in the gut:

@RandyLudlow: After midnight, naked man knocks at your door, asks for help. What do you do? Let him in? GIve him blanket? Call cops?

The link is to a Columbus Dispatch story about a startling story:

It’s not a choice anyone wants to make, especially not in the middle of the night.

Allow a naked stranger who is begging for help into your home or leave him out in the cold?

You don’t know who he is or what he intends to do once inside. Is this a trick? Is someone chasing him?

You do know the 17-degree temperature is dangerously low for someone without clothes. He also happens to be scratched and bleeding, although you probably can’t tell that from inside the house.

What to do?

What to do indeed. It may be hard to say but I think the only acceptable answer for a Christian is to let him in.  I don’t think there is any way to get around the fact that a naked man in 17-degree weather means help or death.

And this interesting moral dilemma had a tragic ending in real life:

People living on Covina Drive on the West Side were confronted with that dilemma just after midnight on Monday morning. A naked man yelled to be let in to at least two houses, leaving bloody smudges on the buildings.

No one let him in, but one man called 911. Police responded but couldn’t find the naked man. Neighbors found the man’s body about 12 hours later in a nearby shed. He likely died of hypothermia, the coroner has said.

I will fully admit that I would be nervous and worried as all get out was I to be put in that situation.  But I just don’t see how turning away a desperate man with the risk of his death is a viable moral option.  The pastors in the Dispatch article hem and haw about protecting your family and safety but it just strikes me as moral cowardice. A man is in danger of freezing to death and no one could find a way to help him?

Helping others doesn’t mean doing it when it is safe or comfortable. Loving your neighbor when it is safe and convenient is easy, and while good, of dubious moral value – who doesn’t love nice, enjoyable safe neighbors?  But true love helps when risk is involved when a a sacrifice has to be made – when real faith is required.

Reading this article really made me think about just how willing I am to help others and just how watered down our faith has become. It haunted me for much of the day – why did this person have to die? I am in no place to judge the people on that street but the larger question should not be allowed to be ignored. Do we really believe in what our faith calls us to do?

Excuse the potentially hokey nature of this question but is there any question Jesus lets that man in?

What do you think? Am I being to harsh?


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  • Sharon Beattie

    As I read the scriptures I don’t believe there is any question, but that Jesus would have let Joshua in. Jesus went the second mile and challenged his followers to do the same. If asked to give someone their cloak, they were to give their shirt as well. The death of this young man gives evidence to the fear which daily grips our lives. It also gives evidence to the injustice in our society in which persons who struggle with mental and emotional illnesses are often left without even minimal care because they cannot afford it. Joshua’s death is very sad. He didn’t have to die. His death is also a sad commentary on our society. His death challenges us to ask the question, what would we have done or what will we do if confronted with an opportunity to help another in need? It also challenges us as a community to come together as individuals, churches, organizations and businesses to address the needs of others in our community so that desperate situations like Joshua’s can be avoided. On January 31 at Mid-Ohio Foodbank from 10 to 11:30 a.m. persons in Columbus will have the opportunity to be proactive regarding needs in Columbus. I hope others will take that first step.,


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