UPDATE: In reply to this post, insanitybytes22 just posted Let’s Talk About “FEELINGS VERSUS AN OBJECTIVE STANDARD”. Thoughtful post! Hopefully, so is my comment. Please check it out.
Now on to this post as I originally published it.
When I read So, Self Righteousness is Really Not The “Moral High Ground…” by insanitybytes22 I just sighed. I don’t enjoy disagreeing with insanitybytes22, but it is going to happen.
What is insanitybytes22‘s post about? It is a review of The Moral High Ground of Free Grace by Pastor . Apparently, Wilson’s post left insanitybytes22 burning with considerable righteous indignation. So she tore into Wilson quite vigorously.
OUCH!!!!! is the feeling I got when I read insanitybytes22‘s post. Here is a sample.
Here is how I see it. When people around you are hurting, when your brothers and sisters in Christ are trying to tell you there’s a problem, there really is a problem. The problem in this case is cloaking what basically amounts to outright racism hidden behind conservative values and proclamations that, “I am a minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Is Wilson promoting racism? Don’t think so. Seems to me he is promoting facts over feelings. Here is a sample from his post.
Racial reconciliation requires an objective standard. Someone proposes that we should all get along, and someone else will ask (or should ask) “by what standard?” What do you mean by “getting along?” There are currently two main competing standards operating in our world, and those standards are the subjective feelings of our designated victims du jour, on the one hand, and the absolute standard of God’s holy will, as revealed to us through Scripture, natural law, and conscience, on the other.
Since I fashion myself as someone with an objective, analytical mind (Don’t we all believe lies about ourselves? ), I went looking for what insanitybytes22‘s and Wilson’s posts have in common. What question are both these people trying to answer? Here is what I came up with.
WHAT IS JUSTICE?
We are all different. So we all see the world around us from different points of view, insanitybytes22 and Wilson have different ideas about justice. Wilson points to his interpretation of scripture.
insanitybytes22 emphasizes empathy, putting ourselves in the shoes of the “victims”.
Is there a middle ground between these two views that we should all seek? Perhaps. I suspect that if these two people would set aside their passions for a moment they could both agree.
Consider this distinction.
- Our government administers justice by enforcing just laws. Wilson, I think, is focused on the administration of justice.
- When someone is just, that is a personal virtue. I believe insanitybytes22 is focused on being just.
The administration of justice and being a just person requires different levels of empathy from us.
Imagine being a judge in a court room. Here we have the obligation to focus on the facts as objectively as a we can. We have the duty to enforce the law as written, not as we might wish it was written. As a judge it is not our place to be especially gracious or merciful to the people who come to our courtroom. Why?
- Grace: Grace is receiving something we don’t deserve. As a judge, we would not have the right to give away what rightfully belongs to our fellow citizens. On the contrary, justice requires a judge to protect the rights and property of his fellow citizens so that they can determine how to exercise their rights and distribute their property.
- Mercy: Mercy is not receiving the punishment we deserve. When a judge withholds punishment, he limits the deterrent effect of the law. Therefore, when a judge withholds punishment he puts his fellow citizens in greater danger.
Is there a place for grace and mercy among the just? As individuals and as members of voluntary associations, we have the right to be as gracious and merciful as we wish. As Christians we are suppose to love each other, empathize with each other’s feelings, and be as gracious and merciful to each other as we can.
Government, however, does not exist to ooze with empathy. Justices do not have the capacity to befriend and empathize with all the people who come to court, and that is not their job. Government is just a tool we use to administer justice as best we can. Government is just a tool we use to resolve conflicts that are so onerous we have no other way of resolving them.
This is why, I think, Wilson argues for an objective standard. As mere human beings we have to set our feelings aside and look to God for guidance.
Proverbs 28:25-26 New King James Version (NKJV)
25 He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be prospered.
26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But whoever walks wisely will be delivered.
Remember the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). Why would Adam and Eve listen to a snake instead of God? Didn’t the snake say what their proud hearts wanted to hear? Didn’t the snake say they could be like God.
Nevertheless, insanitybytes22 is right to worry about the pharisaical behavior of some Christians. God has told us what He wants from us. Remember what He said to the Pharisees.
Matthew 12:7 New King James Version (NKJV)
7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
The Pharisees cared what the Bible said, but Jesus said they erred in their understanding because of their hard hearts.
Proverbs 3:5-6 New King James Version (NKJV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
How many of us trust in the Lord and lean fully upon Him for our understanding? The Apostle Paul said no one (Romans 3:9-20).
How do we trust in the Lord? We choose to love Him. Jesus requires agape love from us. That is, because He loved us first — because He is God — we must make the rational and logical choice to love Him in return. We must will ourselves to love Him, and our feelings will follow. We must put Him first in our lives. We must choose to obey His commands (John 14:15).