The Lesser of Two Evils is… Evil
by Jared Kern • September 26, 2016 • Government, Greek, Uncategorized, Zion • 0 Comments
In light of the fact that the lesser of two evils is still evil, consider the following statement from 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 which is rendered in the King James Version as:
The word “appearance” is problematic, and a poor translation. The evil spoken of in verse 22 is not just that which is apparent, that which appears, but rather evil in general, in all of its many varied forms, apparent and hidden. The aggregated evil is the counterpoint, the parallel, to the general good in the preceding verse. The evil in question is all kinds of evil, all forms.
The Greek uses the second person plural present active imperative form of the verbs δοκιμάζω / dokimázo and κατέχω / katécho, and the second person plural present middle imperative form of the verb ἀπέχω / apécho to indicate this is not just an injunction to avoid, if one can, evil, and, when convenient, hold on to its opposite. Rather the emphasis is on the command; hold fast, hold tight, and do not let go, to that which is good. This is to be coupled with an emphatic, forceful abstention, a rejection, a denunciation of evil.
A more correct translation of verses 21-22 would therefore be:
22. Stay away from every form of evil. (NET)
22. Abstain from every form of evil. (ESV)
22. Abstain from every form of evil. (NKJV)
The demands of the Christian life are that we keep ourselves unspotted, unstained, untainted from the world, from evil (James 1:27). We are to go about doing good (Psalms 34:14; 37:3; Luke 6:35; Alma 41:14; D&C 6:33-34), much good. Like Joseph in Egypt, how then can we choose evil (Gen 39:9)?
When presented with two choices of varying degrees of “evil,” always think outside the box and pick a third choice. None of the above. Do not let your voice legitimize and approve that which is wrong.
There is no ambiguity here.