I have before argued that instead of using the framework of morality to analyse biblical ethics we should view it through the lens of cause and effect. Thus there is no ought or should, etc. Rather, there are particular acts with particular effects and it is up to one to choose what one wants.

I think the curious episode in 2 Kings 5:18-19 provides an interesting example where the cause and effect reasoning may make more sense than moral reasoning. The text concerns Naaman’s leprosy which was cured when he dipped in the river by Elisha’s command. Then Naaman said to Elisha:

In this matter may Yahweh pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, Yahweh pardon your servant in this matter.” And he said to him, “Go in peace.” So he went from him some distance.

If Naaman knows that it is against the commandment of God to bow how could he intentionally and willfully continue to do it and then expect forgiveness? It is like that joke about how one tried praying for a bike but then understood that God does not work that way so he stole one and prayed for forgiveness instead.

This would make more sense however if we understand it within the framework of cause and effect. It is about what Naaman ought or ought not do, rather if he acts against God’s commandment, there would be these consequences or effects, so he is just asking Elisha to intercede with God to spare Naaman from the consequences when sins. That is it. It is not about right or wrong, rules or suspending it, but about cause and effect and how God can spare us from the consequences of our sin by grace and forgiveness, even when we have no legitimate expectations for such mercy.

I think this frame for analysing the episode makes more sense than trying to carve out exceptions to the rules or whatever, etc.

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