Moral Dilemmas

August 4, 2020
By Dale Holloway

Have you ever faced a difficult dilemma? Of course you have. Dilemmas are difficult by definition: “a usually undesirable or unpleasant choice.” A teenager struggles with whose invitation to accept to the high school prom: Ron’s or Bill’s. They are both fine young men—and handsome too. It seems like a win-win situation for her. It’s also a lose-lose situation. If she selects Ron, then Bill will be hurt. But if she chooses Bill, then Ron will be hurt. Now that’s a dilemma!

Our officials in Washington face even more difficult dilemmas on a daily basis, and the decisions they make often have consequences for the entire country or even the world. For example, how often through the decades have they struggled with whether to recommend a hike in the interest rates to slow the economy or recommend to lower the rates at the risk of serious inflation? Or do nothing?

What about moral dilemmas? How do you deal with those? As an evangelical Christian, the moral value system upon which I live and make decisions is based on the Bible. That makes decision-making really easy, right? Hardly!

A moral dilemma is a conflict of morals, where you are forced to choose between two or more options and you have a moral reason to choose and not choose each option. That’s the moral dilemma I faced in the 2016 Presidential election and that I will face again next November. How I resolve the dilemma will be different this time, which I explained that in my article on June 21st, Truth, Trump, and Turmoil.

The aforementioned article generated nearly a thousand hits to my website ( Almost all the feedback I received was negative and filled with emotion. I didn’t expect that kind of a response, but I should have. Moral dilemmas are always controversial because their resolution requires you in a particular moment to prioritize a particular value over a value that another person considers a higher priority than yours.

In 2016, for moral and competency reasons explained in my article, I could not support either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Instead, I wrote the name of Mitt Romney on my ballot, which many would consider a wasted vote. I considered it a matter of conscience.

This year I decided that instead of writing in a name on my ballot or voting for a third-party candidate, I will vote for Joe Biden. I think that upset my readers more than not voting for Trump. For moral reasons, I could easily argue against that decision and, indeed, I have done so a thousand times in my mind. Hence, I have faced a difficult moral dilemma in making my decision. It comes down to what I explained above: I place a higher value on the defeat of Trump than on the defeat of Biden. The defeat of Trump will be more likely if I cast my one vote for Biden with no vote for Trump than if neither candidate receives my vote and it goes to a third-party candidate who has no chance of defeating Trump.

We do not live in a theocratic state. The day and place for that awaits us. Meanwhile, we live in a flawed yet blessed republic where sometimes there is not a “best” candidate for whom to vote and we must rely on our values and wisdom to select the one who is the least-worst. That creates a moral dilemma for which we must seek God’s direction through prayer and His Word to discern what is the higher value in that instance.

Different people of faith, including evangelical Christians, may and likely will reach differing conclusions in the resolution of a moral dilemma. That is not a time to judge and condemn, but to unite as one in Christ and pray together that God’s will be done. In the case of the upcoming Presidential election, let us cast our differing ballots, pray that God’s will triumphs, and unite together for the good of the country and the Kingdom of God.

© 2020 Dale Holloway  ۰  All Rights Reserved