Read Exodus 1, Job 18, and Hebrews 7 today. This devotional is about Exodus 1.
Mary Doogan of Glasgow, Scotland retired last year after 30 years as a midwife. During her career, she helped women deliver 5000 babies.
Her retirement was not something she celebrated, however. It was not a reward for long years of dedicated service. Instead, it was forced by the hospital where she worked which required her and other midwives to supervise abortions. The hospital did not require her to perform the abortion, but it insisted that she supervise others who aborted unborn babies. As a practicing Catholic, Mary felt like supervising abortions made her as guilty as “the driver of the getaway car in an armed robbery.” Although Mary fought legally for the right to follow her conscience, she lost. Having exhausted every means of following her conscience and keeping her job, she felt she had no choice but to retire .
When I first read about her story, I thought immediately of Exodus 1. The midwives in Exodus were not forced to perform abortions but they were required to kill Jewish baby boys once they had been delivered. The only difference between abortion and infanticide is the location of the child being killed but that is a meaningless distinction for everyone who accepts the Bible’s authority.
Pharaoh had political and national motives for requiring the midwives to do this. He was concerned that the population explosion among the Jews would cause them to overwhelm the Egyptians. (v. 10).
The midwives disobeyed Pharaoh’s orders. They “feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.” Although they were dishonest in the reason they gave Pharaoh (v. 18), verse 20 told us that “God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.”
Was it wrong for the midwives to lie to Pharaoh?
It is never wrong to use deception to stop someone’s evil plans. God’s blessing on the midwives in verse 20 shows that he was pleased by their moral choices. They were not using deception to take advantage of someone else for their own gain or to avoid accountability for their sin. Their deception was a sincere attempt to obey God rather than a human authority who was living in defiance to God’s moral laws for his own selfish, sinful purposes.
You and I are obligated to tell the truth unless the truth will be used to commit acts of evil in defiance to God. In that one way only, deception is not just warranted but the morally righteous thing to do.
I hope you and I are never put in position where we are legally ordered to do something that is wrong. But, if we are, may we have the same faith these midwives had, obeying God and trusting him, instead of allowing fear to coerce us into doing wrong.