The classic story, Les Miserables, strikes at the human heart as Fantine, a destitute young woman, must choose between a morally upright life or supporting her daughter, Cosette, and becoming a prostitute. How could a mother choose otherwise? Earlier, this theme of difficult choices begins the story as former convict, Jean Valjean is given a second chance by a priest who lies in order to preserve Valjean’s innocence. What kind of priest lies for another? For the most part, the only one who struggles with these “moral antimonies” – the paradox of choices – is Javert, the policeman who wants everyone to follow the law, both civil and moral. Interestingly, he commits suicide (not to give the story away) as a result of his inability to live with this ambiguity. Black and white no longer offers him the answers he thought he needed to live by.
The Matrix of Christian Ethics highlights this transition from a modern understanding of ethics to post-modernism, going from black and white to the necessity of “courageously mak[ing] ethical decisions in the mucky waters we live in.” According to Patrick Nullens and Ronald T. Michener, the co-authors, modernism fails to offer discernment not only around decision-making but also in how we live our lives in congruence with “God’s commands and guidance through the Holy Spirit, in Scripture, and in the context of the church community.” Leading into depersonalization, modernism dismisses the varying factors that impact living an ethical life for our world today. For Javert, he only seeks answers to the problem, attempting to fix with a moral code. Fantine, the Priest, and others who serve as a foil to Javert all point to “ethics [as] a renewed image of God in the human person, within the context of the community of Christ.”
Ethics are based on our values. When we recognize how “values give direction to our lives,” we begin to see more clearly the reason for our investments, way of acting in this world, and purposeful living. As followers of Christ, we are called to choose a life attuned to “values, norms, virtues, and purposes of Christian life in one’s contemporary context, drawing on Scripture and the tradition of faith.” But what about the gray areas? How do we find a “way” through the difficult choices that leads to thoughtful reflection, integrity to context/scripture/tradition, and fruitful living?
Nullens and Michener point to two ways that impact how I view freedom in Christ. If we are going to face grayness, ambiguity, messiness, what do I hold onto in the midst of that creative tension? One way is the choice of diaphero. In their explanation, they offer that instead of adiaphora (indifference) to decisions, we are to take the action of discerning what is the best choice with the intention of love and wisdom. This approach provides an understanding that we are in partnership with God around this decision and/or way of living. It’s an interactive, dynamic process that leads to a greater freedom by recognizing who we are and gaining a greater understanding of God. Similar to Calvin’s statement: “Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves” (Inst. I.1.i).
Secondly, the way through to this kind of wisdom, means that we look at “[o]ur habits of temperance and prudence…often exposed in little moments of our daily lives.” Ethics, a topic I typically shy away from because of its seeming magnitude, addresses our everyday life as much as the big choices we make. When we are “faithful in very little, [we are able] to be faithful in much.” (Luke 16:10) The way towards a Christian ethic begins right where I am, here and now, in my relationship with God, with others, and with my world. Ultimately, the place to start in ethics is letting God be God in the “‘unknowability’ of the enigma of life, in which we ‘cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.’” 
I cry every time I see Les Miserables whether in the play form or movie. (And I’m not the one in our family who usually cries at movies, honest.) In the rawness of their lives, the characters of Fantine, Jean Valjean, the priest, and others make the attempt to live out their “best” choices – the diaphero – in order to serve each other. In their ethical choices as they seek the “good” of another, they reflect the Imago Dei. As Les Miserables ends, Valjean makes his last statement in song:
Take my hand, and lead me to salvation.
Take my love, for love is everlasting.
And remember, the truth that once was spoken:
To love another person is to see the face of God…
 Patrick Nullens and Ronald T. Michener, The Matrix of Christian Ethics:Integrating Philosophy and Moral Theology in a Postmodern Context (Colorado Springs: IVP Books, 2010), 230.
 Ibid, 243.
 Ibid, 11.
 Ibid, 244.
 Ibid, 55.
 Ibid, 12.
 Ibid, 242.
 Ibid, 242.
 Ibd, 243.