There is a type of conversation that I keep having over and over in the comments of various blogs of Christians. They immediately irritate me and I often respond before I remember that this is the Internet, and that I can just leave…
Perhaps I should go about this differently.
There are a lot of people–a lot of people–out there (and especially in the Men’s Sphere) who have been really mistreated by others in our modern exercise of marriage. They are the reason I still persevere to write this blog. Not because I’m going to fix them, but so that they know they are not forgotten; so that they know they are not alone in their misery; to help them keep in mind that we are not hopeless.
But I can’t keep up hope for them on my own. They have grasp it for themselves. Others can be a light, and others can help carry their load, but but we can’t walk for them. We can’t will their spiritual legs to put one foot in front of the other. People get divorced, or cheated on, and they lose their faith. They say haven’t because they still believe in Jesus…but what do they mean by the word believe? Belief without action–faith without works–is dead.
Sometimes the most painful work is just accepting that what we have been taught by Christ and the prophets–through the Bible, and upheld by the Church–is actually true, and measuring our thoughts and behaviors against those truths. Doing so reveals that one thought after another behavior falls pathetically short of the goal. That beats us down.
When you add to that our imperfect and compassionless perception of others who seem so much worse than ourselves, then we are lulled into a miserable self-righteousness that we’re not that bad, or that for those few people we for whom we can find a smidgen of compassion because we sympathize or empathize with their suffering…well they’re not so bad. The really bad people are those other perpetrators out there; the ones who did what we pretend we could never do.
What ends up happening is, because of that self-righteousness, we drop our standards; we abandon those truths and begin to make excuse for what we have done on the basis of another’s sin. An example would be: “In the real world, sometimes people deserve to be divorced. It’s not my fault she had an affair, and I see no reason why I should be punished by not being allowed to remarry.” Another would be: “I know the Bible says divorce is wrong, but really our marriage was over long ago. In our hearts we been divorced for years. This is just a formality.”
That’s where I reflexively argue that, no, we do not get to do whatever makes us feel better just because someone has wronged us; and if you do then you’re as bad as they are.
They respond poorly to this because often times the truth was not in their excuses for their behavior. If they said what they wanted to say it would sound more like: “That bitch ripped my guts out and I’m supposed to forgive her for being a giant slut; for ruining our marriage? I know I should be sorry for divorcing her, but I’m not.” Or: “For the last ten years he’s taken me for granted. He has no concern except that he’s comfortable, and shows the barest concern about me, his supposed wife! He can go to Hell for all I care.”
Unless they’re in the likeminded company they don’t say that because they know it’s wrong, and they don’t want to confront it. But, man, it would be so much better if they did. Such people can be forgiven, comforted, encouraged, and aided. That’s the business we Christians are supposed to be about. That’s the difference of bitter darkness from salt and light.
People who make excuse and justify their own actions against the faith as merely reactions to other’s evil…there’s no help for them.