Moral Complicity with Evil
Reproduced with permission
Moral complicity with evil is culpable association with or participation
in wrongful acts. Evil is defined as anything immoral or wrong based on
Biblical principles. Questions about moral complicity with evil can arise in
regard to an individual's relationship to or involvement with past, present
or future evil.
Moral complicity may occur with the use of information, technology or
materials obtained through immoral means. This complicity may involve using,
rewarding, perpetuating, justifying, or ignoring past or present evil.1
Moral complicity may involve enabling or facilitating future immoral
actions of patients or professionals.2
We must strive to never commit evil ourselves, nor should we participate
in or encourage evil by others. While it may be impossible at times to
completely distance ourselves from the evil actions of others, we are
responsible to determine whether our action is appropriately distanced or
inappropriately complicit. This determination is based on the revealed Word
of God. In the absence of clear Biblical teaching, this determination is
based on conscience as informed by the Holy Spirit, using but recognizing
the innately fallible nature of human reason and prudence.
1. We must avoid every kind of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22)
2. We may never do evil that good may come. (Romans 3: 8)
3. We must hate and oppose evil. (Romans 12: 9)
4. We should separate ourselves from evil. (II Corinthians 6: 17)
5. We cannot totally separate ourselves from evil. (I Corinthians 5: 9 &
6. We should overcome evil with good. (Romans 12: 21)
7. We should seek wisdom. (James 1: 2-5)
1. Intent. Our motives must be always to promote good, never evil.
2. Magnitude. Some evil acts are so heinous that any association with
them is unacceptable.
3. Timing. Passage of time may diminish complicity with prior evil acts,
though it does not diminish the evil nature of the original act.
4. Proximity. A greater degree of association with an evil act increases
5. Knowledge. Knowledge that an original act was evil and knowledge that
a subsequent act is associated with that act are both required for
6. Certitude. A greater degree of certainty that the original action was
evil increases complicity.
CMDA believes moral complicity with evil does not exist when all the
following conditions are satisfied
1. our intent is for good;
2. the association with the past or present evil is sufficiently
uncertain, or the act is sufficiently distanced from the original evil act;
3. the action does not reward, perpetuate, justify, cooperate with, or
ignore the original evil.
Approved by the House of Representatives
June 11, 2004, unanimously
1. For example, the potential for moral complicity exists
in the use of (a) research data from unethical experiments, (b) textbooks or
drawings made using tortured or executed prisoners, (c) vaccines made from
aborted fetal tissue, etc.
2. For example, enabling a patient to engage in immoral
activity (sexual immorality, suicide, drug abuse, criminal activity) or
facilitating an immoral procedure by another professional (cloning; genetic
enhancement; referral for or assisting in abortion or unethical reproductive
technologies) may involve some culpability.