Pintos and Parapets: A Lesson in Loving Others


In May of last year, a fire broke out in the neonatal unit of a hospital in Senegal. Faulty wiring was said to be the culprit and had the electrical circuits been properly installed, those children would be alive and well today. An essential part of manhood, and especially Christian manhood, is to act responsibly toward each other. We are called to take precautions as a way of loving others.

The Old Testament civil law teaches us the importance of being responsible in order to prevent harm from coming to our neighbor. In those days, if a man’s ox accidentally gored a person to death, the animal would be killed and the owner suffered the loss. However, if the bull was known to be dangerous and the owner did nothing to prevent someone from being gored to death the owner would forfeit his own life (see Exodus 21:28-30).

Passages such as the one cited from Exodus demonstrate that in God’s justice system, gross negligence leading to injury or death is equal in liability to intentional acts that lead to injury or death. Building codes in Israel required a parapet around the roof of homes since people were known to gather on rooftops in those days.

In American law, gross negligence is treated as a crime, and penalties for negligence vary with the degree of harm caused by human carelessness. Back in the 80s, the Ford Motor Company decided to proceed with production of their Pinto even though the gas tank placement was known to be vulnerable in case of a rear end collision. That gross negligence cost the company $127.8 million arising from more than one hundred lawsuits filed against Ford.

With this in mind, I’ll leave you with a few questions to consider as a responsibility check-up:

    1. Do you often take short cuts in projects involving other people? Do you compromise codes and settle for what you think is good enough?
    2. Do you text while driving?
    3. Do you unnecessarily expose others to germs or viruses?
    4. Do you ignore possible cases of abuse and fail to take responsible action?
    5. Do you neglect to warn your children of the dangers inherent in this fallen world?

While it is often impossible to eliminate risks completely, taking short cuts and omitting procedures designed to protect life is both sinful and deadly. The CDC reported that from 1981 to 2020 the number one cause of death of those between ages one and 44 was “unintentional injury.”

Let this be a reminder to be responsible and take care to exercise diligence and due care in all areas of our lives. The Christian ethic requires us to live responsibly out of concern for others.

The Christian ethic requires us to live responsibly out of concern for others.