This Journal is sponsored by the Assn. for Christian Conferences, Teaching and Service.

ISSN: 2354-8315 (Online)


Christianity, Virtue, and the Intelligence Profession
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Article Index
Christianity, Virtue, and the Intelligence Profession
Necessity and Rules
The Virtues of the Good Intelligence Professional
Applying the Virtues
Developing the Virtues of Good Character
The Role of Mentorship
Conclusion: The Potential to Do Good or Harm
All Pages

by Charles A. "Tony" Pfaff, Colonel, U.S. Army


God must love spying, but it is not clear that he loves spies. Both the Old and New Testament record moments when God’s chosen people relied on spies to ensure their safety or further their cause. But at the same time, the Bible clearly reflects God’s displeasure at some of the acts spies do, such as lying and stealing. God’s displeasure stems not just from the nature of the acts themselves, but also because repeatedly committing such acts will make one a liar and thief. The tension between the just demands for intelligence and the apparently unjust acts intelligence professionals are sometimes called upon to do poses a dilemma for Christians who would serve in the intelligence community.

From a human perspective, these activities are justified by their contribution to national security and the fact that wars are won, or better yet avoided, because the right information analyzed the right way got to the right decision makers at the right time. But the question remains, how does the collection and analysis of this information affect those who do it? The question is not trivial. Many have left the profession or suffered moral damage because they felt that the deceiving and harming they have done—or in the case of analysts, exploited—in service to their country has corrupted their integrity. Further, many felt this corruption was exacerbated by a perception that the intelligence community serves a “cloudy moral purpose.”1This paper will discuss the role virtues can play as a moral framework to resolve this tension and balance the requirements of the intelligence profession with the moral principles that constrain it. It will begin with illustrating shortcomings in other ethical decision making frameworks and then discuss how virtues can overcome these shortcomings. Once the virtues are identified and discussed relative to the intelligence profession, the paper will then discuss how these virtues may be acquired and applied as a means to increase resources available for ethical decision making.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 May 2010 11:22