Christianity is a pretty big spectrum of beliefs, understandings, and interpretations. Some Christians hold to the idea that ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ and in that capacity, they do not tolerate sin. An example might be the tendency to boycott industries that announce that support for things that they consider to be sin. But there are also Christians who are on the opposite end of that who individually emphasize ‘love your neighbor’ and they take that just as seriously. They might be among the first to raise money to help the homeless who for whatever reason, don’t have a home. They don’t stop to ask whether a person is homeless because they were kicked out or walked out. They don’t withhold help if it’s clear that a person is going to choose the bottle over a solid meal. They still have to eat.
I was thinking about a comment that I saw that was something like this: “So-and-so’s music is great, his vibrant faith is so very inspiring; but his friends are known to donate to charities that help runaways who refuse to give up their sinful lifestyle. So he has lost my respect until he takes a bold stand to speak the truth.” It made me wonder, ‘Can a Christian who hates sin support a Christian who supports sinners in any way, shape, or form?’ Perhaps it would be better ask: ‘Must Christians be an example of moral perfection to attain the approval of other Christians?’
King David wrote Psalm 101, which says things like: “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile … I will have nothing to do with what is evil … No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house … ” Yet King David affair with Bathsheba proved that not even he could live up to the standard he set for himself. Why do we think we can live up to the same standard when it is clearly beyond us?
Jesus’ teachings didn’t set conditions. He didn’t say: “Walk two miles if the soldiers aren’t going to use the weapons to kill people.” He didn’t say: “Love your neighbor if they’re as morally righteous as you are.” He didn’t say: “Look after widows and orphans in their distress if they show up to church every Sunday without fail.” Yet all too often we set such conditions. But we tend to pick and choose – to segregate and discriminate. After all, if we were moral guardians, then we would make it our business to know who cheats on their taxes, who steals, who fails to keep their word and having nothing to do with any of them. But most of the time, we only chose to dis-fellowship those who are guilty of a certain kind of sin. Perhaps it’s because we realize that if we set the limit at all sin, we’d have no one to talk to because everyone is guilty of something.
So it’s not about being guardians of morality, but discrimination in the name of morality. It makes no never mind to me if you do sins a, b, and c, but if you’re into sins x, y, and z then you’re breaking the rules. If I support you, then I’m just as guilty of sins x, y, and z. A, b, and c, are lesser sins, the ones that carry almost no weight at all, the ones that everyone does. X, y, and z are the greatest sins of all, the ones that must be prosecuted to the fullest extent that morality demands. Somebody, somewhere gets to decide. Somebody teaches that certain sins are worse than others. But that someone is also a sinner.
Remember the Scarlet Letter? I keep on seeing a sort of resurgence of the same spirit of legalism that Hester saw living among the Puritans who had branded her a sinner in the worst possible way – an adulteress. Through her experiences, she develops a different moral standard and set of beliefs by which she lives. I can see why the moral uprightness of the Puritans would seem like a safe anchor in the stormy seas of this chaotic world. It’s not that dissimilar from the Pharisees’ attitude about those who were not like them. But Jesus stood opposed to that sense of moral superiority. He was known to be associated with tax collectors and other sinners. It’s a shame that his followers have not followed in his footsteps, had we done so, we would not have discredited his teachings.
The world watches when Christians chose to de-fund children’s charities because that charity branched out to help sinners. Do you know what message that sends? That they’ll only help feed children if the ministry that serves the food doesn’t serve others. That when it comes down to it, their morality matters more to them than people do.