11 May 2012

Judgment and Compassion

J.M.J.

The proponents of gay marriage have an odd habit of justifying their position by claiming that we should not judge others. Their position is one of intense moral relativism and selective theology. We as Christians are called to compassion for others, and we are also called to oppose sin. That means we hate the sin but love the sinner. Yes, we must admonish each other (Col. 3.16). Our religious leaders have an even greater duty to give godly admonitions to the people. If something is contrary to the doctrine of the faith, we must speak and we must act, or else we become complicit in the sin. Every single person supporting the administration of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to same-sex couples is as guilty of that sin as those who participate in it directly. 

To judge the actions of others is not to judge the person directly. The totality of the depths of a person's soul are ultimately known to that person and God alone, and it is God who will judge. Yet the actions of an individual are entirely different. To say we must sit back and say nothing as a person harms his soul through sin because what they are doing might be "right for them" is to adopt moral relativism. It is direct cooperation with sin. To say that a person's sin is their own personal matter is also a falsehood. We are all part of the corporate body of Christ. What is done by one harms the whole, just as a cancerous tumor in one's lungs may affect the entire body. And would a true friend, upon noticing that someone else has an illness, not admonish that person to seek medical attention and not ignore the problem? Why then do so many people insist on remaining silent or even vocally supporting sin in others? 

In all of this, though, compassion must be retained. Never should someone admonish someone else and think inside "Look at me, I am better," for we are all sinners. Rather, we must act in humility and with compassion for the human condition and the spiritual state of others. It is for this reason that our Communion's slogan is "The Church for Everyone." As our Lord embraced all people, even the social outcasts and the sinners, so do we in the Church embrace them. We must do so. Those who share in the priesthood of Christ have even more of an obligation to do so. This does not mean, however, that in showing compassion to others, we can modify the sacred doctrine of the Church. In showing love and support to sinners, never must we ignore the sin, deny it, or rationalize it. As Christians, we must be like the surgeon who feels compassion for his patient, but does not ignore or deny the tumor that he is bound to remove.

+ Rutherford Cardinal Johnson