“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
When you were a teenager did your parents ever go out of town leaving you in charge of the homestead? Or maybe you had a friend who was left home alone and invited you over. Were you or your friends ever tempted to take advantage of the situation by engaging in a little (uh-em!) un-chaperoned party time? After all, it wasn’t often you had the chance to have the run of the place. (Remember Tom Cruise in the 1983 movie “Risky Business”?) Was I ever tempted by such a situation, you might wonder? I think I’d rather not answer that; I’ll take the Fifth instead. Maybe you should too.
When David became king he too was faced with the responsibility as well as the temptations that go along with having the run of the place. Sure enough, the first thing you know he saw Bathsheba and had her brought to him, which was absolutely within his power and authority. But, not only was she not his wife, she happened to be the wife of one of his most trusted and devoted military officers. Well, as we all know after a failed attempt to cover up the indiscretion he went a step further by arranging for Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to be killed in battle so that no one would ever know – thus, piling one indiscretion on top of another. The fact was, though, that as king, David had the authority to do whatever he chose to do, but that did not mean that he should.
A classic case of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” occurred in recent years in the banking industry with the sub-prime mortgage scandals. Many from that industry have argued – and still argue – that all was done within the bounds of the law. Now, I’m not smart enough to know if it was or not, but I do know that the deeper moral question is this: even if it was legal, was it proper?
So, is there a litmus test for determining what is right? If so, what is it? I would suggest the simplest one is the Golden Rule; that is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Check that out, and if it passes muster you’re probably on the right track.