Lesson 4: Framing the Issue
Heinz Pagels.: “Science cannot resolve moral conflicts,
but it can help to more accurately frame the debates about those conflicts.”
What is meant by “framing an issue”?
How can the way the question is framed influence the decision?
Why do we find it so difficult to challenge our mental models?
How eager to take risk is the average person?
2. Do You See the Issue as Positive or Negative
Matthew 4:1-11 [ESV] The temptation of Jesus
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after
fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the
Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,
“ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
“ ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 8 Again,
the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said
to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’ ”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Tyndale’s Concise Bible Commentary, v.8
The third temptation was with regard to power and wealth. It was a
temptation to short-circuit God’s plan for salvation that required the
redemptive suffering of Jesus. Satan offered Jesus immediate glory and
riches, while God' plan would take Jesus down the road of suffering and
death. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13 in his defense against Satan. In
Deuteronomy 6:10-15, Moses had warned the people of Israel as they
enter the promised land to avoid the temptation to fall into idolatry. He
warned Israel not to forget that God had given them all that they owned
in the promised land. Similarly, Jesus had to avoid the temptation to
embrace riches and forget God. Jesus was offered all of this world' s
kingdoms under Satan' authority for just one little act of worship. But
such sin would have disqualified Jesus as God' means of redemption to
Satan’s presentation to Jesus was good ad copy, emphasizing the positive aspects of his offer
B. The World
Abortion: Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice
Planned Parenthood says…
>> On August 25, hundreds of anti-choice extremists picketed near the site of the Planned
Parenthood clinic as part of a “40-day prayer vigil” to protest the opening.
>> Aurora is home to some of the most radical anti-abortion organizers. Despite the attacks on
Planned Parenthood from these extremists, Planned Parenthood of Chicago is determined to bring
reproductive health care to a community that is lacking access to services like contraception, disease
prevention, and sex education.
National Right to Life says …
The term "abortion" actually refers to any premature expulsion of a human fetus, whether naturally
spontaneous, as in a miscarriage, or artificially induced, as in a surgical or chemical abortion. Today,
the most common usage of the term "abortion" applies to artificially induced abortion, which is the
subject of this pamphlet.
In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing
abortion in all 50 states during all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason, medical, social, or
The vast majority of all abortions performed today are done for social, not medical reasons --
because a woman doesn’t feel ready for a baby at the time, because her partner wants her to have an
abortion, etc. Approximately 93% of all induced abortions are done for elective, non-medical reasons
such as these.
Abortion ends a pregnancy by destroying and removing the developing child. That baby’s heart has
already begun to beat by the time the mother misses her period and begins to wonder if she might be
pregnant (about 31 days after the mother’s last menstrual period or LMP).  Surgical abortions are
usually not performed before seven weeks, or 49 days LMP.  By that time, the baby has identifiable
arms and legs (day 45) and displays measurable brain waves (about 40 days). During the seventh
through the tenth weeks, when the majority of abortions are performed, fingers and genitals appear
and the child’s face is recognizably human. 
Couple' Abortion Decision Is Nobody' Business But Theirs
Dear Abby: My fiancée, "Cheryl," and I are in our early 30s and
recently made an extremely difficult decision. We decided to terminate her
pregnancy at six weeks. Cheryl' sister "Nicki" -- my future sister-in-law -- is
opposed to abortion and now no longer wants to talk to me or have anything
to do with me.
I have tried reaching out to Nicki to explain the reasons for our decision,
but it has fallen on deaf ears. Should I continue asking her for forgiveness, or
have I done enough already? This is causing Cheryl a great deal of pain, and
I don' believe that it' fair for Nicki to punish me for a personal family
decision. Please let me know your thoughts. -- CHERYL' FIANCE IN S
Dear Fiancé: So how did Nicki get inserted in the middle of something that was none of her business
in the first place? Surely, she didn' have a vote. Nicki is entitled to her feelings, but she has no right to
punish you for a decision that was arrived at by both you and her sister. And the person to make that
crystal clear to Nicki is Cheryl, not you, so stop apologizing.
The decision to terminate a pregnancy is an extremely sensitive one and never one that is taken
lightly. Every decision has consequences, and I am sure that you and your fiancee accepted that when you
How we frame a situation often shapes the decision at which we arrive
Considering competing frames can help people reach better decisions
3. Do You See the Issue as Gain or Loss
Job 2:1-10 [ESV] Satan attacks Job’s health
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and
Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “From
where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and
from walking up and down on it.” 3 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job,
that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from
evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”
Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5
But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 And the
LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole
of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself
while he sat in the ashes.
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said
to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall
we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Weiersbe, Be Patient, v.7-10
“Curse God and die” was exactly what Satan wanted Job to do, and Job’s wife put the temptation to
her husband. Yes, Satan can work through people who are dear to us. … She was wrong, of course; but
in all fairness, we must consider her situation. She had lost ten children one day, and that would
devastate any mother. The is the family wealth was gone, and she was no longer the “leading lady” in
the land. Her husband, once the greatest man in the East, was now sitting at the city garbage dump,
suffering from a terrible disease. What did she have left? Rather than watch her husband waste away in
pain and shame, she would prefer that God strike him dead and get it over with immediately. Perhaps if
Job cursed God, God would do it.
Job’s wife saw her situation only as one of great loss
B. The World
Consider a flu epidemic in which 600 people are expected to die
Program A1: 200 lives are expected to be saved
Program A2: 1/3 probability all 600 lives will be saved; 2/3 probability no lives will be saved
Program B1: 400 people will die
Program B2: 1/3 probability no one will die; 2/3 probability 600 people will die
When a situation is framed as a gain, most people are more risk averse
When a situation is framed as a loss, most people are willing to take greater risk
4. Do You See the Issue as a Threat or an Opportunity
Genesis 3:1-7 [ESV] The fall
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And
the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You
shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you
die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat
of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman
saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be
desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was
with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they
sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Old Testament, v.5
Satan promises them advantage by it. Here he follows his blow, and it was a blow at the root, a fatal
blow to the tree we are branches of. He not only would undertake that they should be no losers by it, thus
binding himself to save them from harm; but (if they would be such fools as to venture upon the security
of one that had himself become a bankrupt) he undertakes they shall be gainers by it, unspeakable
gainers. He could not have persuaded them to run the hazard of ruining themselves if he had not
suggested to them a great probability of bettering themselves.
(1.) He insinuates to them the great improvements they would make by eating of this fruit. And he
suits the temptation to the pure state they were now in, proposing to them, not any carnal pleasures or
gratifications, but intellectual delights and satisfactions. These were the baits with which he covered his
hook. … Now in all these insinuations he aims to beget in them, First, Discontent with their present state,
as if it were not so good as it might be, and should be. Note, No condition will of itself bring contentment,
unless the mind be brought to it. Adam was not easy, no, not in paradise, nor the angels in their first
state. Secondly, Ambition of preferment, as if they were fit to be gods. Satan had ruined himself by
desiring to be like the Most High, and therefore seeks to infect our first parents with the same desire, …
(2.) He insinuates to them that God had no good design upon them, in forbidding them this fruit:
“For God doth know how much it will advance you; and therefore, in envy and ill-will to you, he hath
forbidden it:” as if he durst not let them eat of that tree because then they would know their own strength,
and would not continue in an inferior state, but be able to cope with him; or as if he grudged them the
honor and happiness to which their eating of that tree would prefer them. ... Thus still the devil draws
people into his interest by suggesting to them hard thoughts of God, and false hopes of benefit and
advantage by sin. Let us therefore, in opposition to him, always think well of God as the best good, and
think ill of sin as the worst of evils: thus let us resist the devil, and he will flee from us.
Satan presented to Eve the great opportunity that was open to Her, but it was a lie
B. The World
In one research study, one group of people was informed that there was a 50% opportunity for
success in a particular venture. The other group was told that same venture had a 50% threat of failure.
Logically, the same proportion of people in each group should be willing to take this risk. But this was
not the case. When this was described in terms of the probability of success, more people were willing to
take it than when this same risk was described in terms of the chances of failure.
When a situation is framed as a threat, people react more rigidly and tend to simply try harder
When the same situation is framed as an opportunity, people respond more flexibly and adaptively
5. Do You See the Issue in a New Light
Galatians 2:11-16 [ESV] Paul Opposes Peter
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For
before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back
and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically
along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their
conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a
Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified
by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to
be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be
The Bible Exposition Commentary, v.11-13
Apparently some time after the important conference described in Acts 15, Peter came from
Jerusalem to Antioch. The first thing to note is Peter' freedom then. He enjoyed fellowship with all the
believers, Jews and Gentiles alike. To "eat with the Gentiles" meant to accept them, to put Jews and
Gentiles on the same level as one family in Christ.
Raised as an Orthodox Jew, Peter had a difficult time learning this lesson. Jesus had taught it while
he was with Peter before the crucifixion. The Holy Spirit had reemphasized it when he sent Peter to the
home of Cornelius, the Roman centurion. Furthermore, the truth had been accepted and approved by the
conference of leaders in Jerusalem. Peter had been one of the key witnesses at that time.
Before we criticize Peter, perhaps we had better examine our own lives to see how many familiar
Bible doctrines we are actually obeying. As you examine church history, you see that even with a
complete Bible, believers through the years have been slow to believe and practice the truths of the
Peter framed the situation according to the old teaching of the scribes and pharisees
B. The World
September 11, 2001
On United Airlines Flight 93, black box recordings revealed that crew and
passengers attempted to seize control of the plane from the hijackers after
learning through phone calls that similarly hijacked planes had been crashed
into buildings that morning. According to the transcript of Flight 93' recorder,
one of the hijackers gave the order to roll the plane once it became evident that
they would lose control of the plane to the passengers. Soon afterward, the
aircraft crashed into a field near Shanksville in Stonycreek Township, Somerset
County, Pennsylvania, at 10:03:11 a.m. local time
Some passengers on the fourth plane knew that the rules had changed
The Christmas Day Bomber
On Christmas Day 2009, Abdulmutallab travelled to Amsterdam, where he boarded Northwest
Airlines Flight 253 en route to Detroit. He had purchased his ticket with cash in Ghana on December 16.
Abdulmutallab spent about 20 minutes in the bathroom as it approached Detroit, and then covered
himself with a blanket after returning to his seat. They then heard popping noises, smelled a foul odor,
and some saw Abdulmutallab’s trouser leg and the wall of the plane on fire. Fellow passenger Jasper
Schuringa, a Dutch film director, jumped on Abdulmutallab and subdued him as flight attendants used
fire extinguishers to douse the flames. Abdulmutallab was taken toward the front of the airplane cabin,
was seen to have lost his trousers due to the fire, and had burns on his legs. When asked by a flight
attendant what he had in his pocket, he replied: “Explosive device.” The device consisted of a six-inch
(15-cm) packet which was sewn into his underwear. containing the explosive powder PETN, which
became a plastic explosive when mixed with the high explosive triacetone triperoxide (TAPN) (the same
two explosives that were used by Richard Reid in 2001), and a syringe containing liquid acid.
Abdulmutallab created the explosive by mixing PETN with TAPN and other ingredients
How we frame a situation is influenced by our worldview, our taken-for-granted assumptions about
how the world works
Sometimes changes in our environment challenge our understanding of the world
Romans 11:33–36 [ESV]
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his
judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, v.36
The reason why man can lay God under no obligation is that God is himself all and in all; the source,
the means, and the end. By him all things are; through his power, wisdom, and goodness, all things are
directed and governed; and to him, as their last end, all things tend. ..
Such is the appropriate conclusion of the doctrinal portion of this wonderful epistle; in which more
fully and clearly than in any other portion of the word of God, the plan of salvation is presented and
defended. Here are the doctrines of grace; doctrines on which the pious in all ages and nations have
rested their hopes of heaven, though they may have had comparatively obscure intimations of their
nature. The leading principle of all is that God is the source of all good; that in fallen man there is
neither merit nor ability; that salvation, consequently, is all of grace, as well sanctification as pardon, as
well election as eternal glory. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory
for ever. Amen.
Different frames can cause us to make different decisions, even if the expected results are identical in
As Christians, we need to expose, consider and test our implicit assumptions to be certain that they
are all consistent with a Biblical worldview