Given A Choice

J. P. Moreland, b.1948, quoted in
“The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates
the Toughest Objections to Christianity”
by Lee Strobel, b.1952

There is a difference between intrinsic value and instrumental value. Something has intrinsic value if it is valuable and good in and of itself; something has instrumental value if it is valuable as a means to an end. For example, saving lives is intrinsically good. Driving on the right side of the street is an instrumental value; it is just good because it helps keep order. If society decided that everyone should drive on the left side, that would be okay. The goal is to preserve order and save lives.

Now, when you treat people as instrumentally valuable, or only as a means to an end, you are dehumanising them, and that is wrong. You are treating people as things when you treat them merely as a means to an end. You only respect people when you treat them as having intrinsic value.

If you were to force people to do something against their free choice, you would be dehumanising them. You would be saying that the good of what you want to do is more valuable than respecting their choices, and so you're treating people as a means to an end by requiring them to do something they do not want. That is what it would be like if God forced everyone to go to heaven.

If God has given people free will, then there is no guarantee that everybody’s going to choose to cooperate with him. The option of forcing everyone to go to heaven is immoral because it is dehumanising; it strips them of the dignity of making their own decision, it denies them their freedom of choice and it treats them as a means to an end.

God cannot make people’s character for them, and people who do evil or cultivate false beliefs start a slide away from God that ultimately ends in hell. God respects human freedom. In fact. it would be unloving, a sort of divine rape, to force people to accept heaven and God if they did not really want them. When God allows people to say ‘no’ to him, he actually respects and dignifies them.

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