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Monday, August 10, 2009

Why Can't We Discern between Compassion and Morality?

It seems that morality changes every day. What was once considered immoral is now applauded. What was once applauded is now considered prudish. Those who did what was considered right are now considered judgemental. Those who practice what was once considered immoral are the new heroes of our day.

Where will this lead? I think we must first know how we got where we are.

We started to have compassion on those who were caught in sin. It is the right thing to do. We should always show compassion for those who have fallen. They weren't bad people. They just allowed their passions to get the best of them.

Take for example the story of a young lady pregnant outside of marriage. Not so long ago she was condemned. She was an outcast. Her family might even kick her out. We showed ourselves as the worst of people when we condemned her. The lack of compassion  was deplorable. Eventually enough people started showing compassion and we helped these young ladies through their pregnancies.

Something happened along the way, though. We started encouraging pre-marital sex and applauding those who got pregnant outside of marriage. Couples who lived together might have several children before marriage or they might never marry. The goodnight kiss on a date was replaced with some quick sex. It might even happen on the first date.

Why didn't we understand that compassion is not the same as approval? Maybe because the desire to be compassionate can easily turn into approval; at least tacitly. We feel compassion and want the person to know that we do not condemn them. Our lack of condemnation sounds like approval. 

We have always had a hard time hating the sin while loving the sinner. We either hate or love both. It takes more effort to discern between the two. We can't seem to say that we fully disagree with what someone has done but we will fully love and help that person take responsibility. We want to absolve their responsibility too.

This problem has captured us across all actions of immorality. We have had compassion on the homeless so we have applauded the homeless and continued to give them the kind of help that keeps them homeless. We have had compassion on the drug users and have glamorized their addictions which approve and encourage others to follow. 

Should we forget all about compassion and stop this freefall toward immorality? Absolutely not! We cannot be the Christians Christ has called us to be without compassion. We must be like Jesus who had compassion on the sinner but condemned the sin. The woman caught in adultery was not condemned by Jesus. He told her that she wasn't to ever commit her sin again. He condemned the sin without condemning her.

I suppose I have always wanted to show compassion on people caught in a sin. I, too, am a sinner and have been caught up in sin. I needed compassion rather than judgement. I know what sin is. Trying to approve it through the compassion of others has never worked for me. I still know when something is wrong. I wonder if others already feel this way. Maybe we are numbing their sense of wrong with our compassion.

What will be wrong and right in our future if nothing changes? I am afraid we will stop using the word "wrong." (We have already stopped using the word "sin.")

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