If you were a prisoner of war, would you consent to have sex with the prison warden if it would set you free?
The overwhelming answer, predictably enough (at least from a bunch of Mormons), was “heck no!” So then, the teacher upped the ante by asking: what if it would free one hundred other prisoners who were scheduled to die the next day?
I was a little surprised (but not really) when I was the only one who admitted that I probably would. After all, there’s precedent for something similar in the Book of Mormon, and a very real question of whether or not the blood of the dead prisoners would be on your hands if you didn’t. Also, I would still consider it rape, since I draw a distinction between the act of sex and the act of saving lives–IOW, the sex itself isn’t strictly consensual; it’s the cost of saving the other prisoners.
Laying aside completely the question of whether or not you can take the warden at his word, it’s a very interesting dilemma, and one that gets at the heart of what people really believe. The fact that so many of my Mormon peers wouldn’t sleep with the guy tells you a lot about Mormon culture. My follow up question would be: if it meant freeing yourself and the other prisoners, would you kill the warden? Because I’m pretty sure most of them would say “heck, yes!” even though murder is typically considered to be a more heinous sin than fornication.
But anyway, the point here is that all of this makes excellent story material. For your characters, what are the moral lines that they absolutely will not cross? The ones where they’re a little more fuzzy? What, for example, would a character be like whose method for choosing between two undesirable courses of action was to flip a coin–no matter the stakes? And what about the characters like Ender Wiggins who flip the dilemma on its head by stabbing the giant in the eye?
This is the kind of stuff I love to read, and the stuff I love to write as well. I’m hoping to pull off a really good one in Into the Nebulous Deep, but not for a couple of chapters. Gotta set things up, get the story moving, and give the romance a little momentum. But once the characters are all fleshed out and the stakes are insanely high, that’s when the fun begins. Bwahahahaha!!
Man, I would make an awesome prison warden. ;P
Image courtesy postsecret.
*FHE (Family Home Evening) is, for young single Mormons, roughly the equivalent of a college-aged church youth group meeting.