This post continues a series of reflections that I began here.
There’s something I was trying to get at in my last post in this series, and simply didn’t. And that is that many parts of our lives are a mish-mosh of the good and the bad, the moral and the immoral, of virtue and vice—and might rate highly on the good scale when looked at one way while being a pit of sin when looked at another way.
Consider a couple living in a committed relationship without benefit of marriage. (I’m unconcerned at this point with whether the relationship is same-sex or not; I’m also unconcerned at this point with whether the couple are Christians or not.) The point is that sex is going on outside of marriage, which is fornication according to the Church, and is a sin. From the sexual morality point of view, this is a bad thing. Fornication is a sin, and sin is bad both for society and for the people involved. (I don’t intend to argue that point here; that would be a separate series of posts.)
But on the other hand…suppose that these two people have been learning to love each other unselfishly, to sacrifice for each other. The sexual aspect of the relationship is sinful…and the yet the relationship is a vehicle for moral and spiritual growth. It might, in fact, represent a high-water-mark in their loves, morally speaking. There is sin in it, and yet it is the best thing that has ever happened to them, both subjectively and objectively speaking. I don’t think that it is unreasonable or wrong to say that God is using the relationship to bring the two people closer to Himself.
I don’t think that this scenario is at all unlikely; in fact, I think it likely that it’s going on all over the place.
Am I trying to “bless” their sin in some way? No, not at all. Sin is sin, and it remains sin. But I’ve noticed that in my life, God seems to deal with one kind of sin at a time. He doesn’t try to clean up the mess all at once; he deals with one room at a time. I suspect this is often the case.
When I look at other people, I often see messes in need of being cleaned up. But there are some things to remember about that:
- The mess that I see might not be the mess that’s most critical.
- The mess that I see might not be quite what I think it is.
- The mess that I see is quite likely none of my business.
- I’ve got messes of my own to clean up.
So I might look at this hypothetical couple and say to myself, “They’re living together; they really ought to either get married or split up.” But from God’s point of view, they might be on the path to redemption. I don’t know. I can’t know. And as C.S. Lewis points out, Aslan tells no one any story but his own.
Which brings me back to the point I was making in my last post. We need to love what is good, and we mustn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
So what is my responsibility to this hypothetical couple? Difficult question. It certainly depends on what my relationship to them is. But I think that will have to be another post.