Jesus eating with sinners.
Mark 2.15-17

The question: How do I react to the wrong and immoral behavior of others?

This is a question I ask myself often, so much so it has finally coalesced into a logical pattern. This is my attempt at stating that pattern as straightforwardly as I can.

This is a major part of my current decision making process when confronted by someone doing something I believe to be immoral.

I used lying in this example, but anything I find to be immoral could fit instead.

Personal Stance on Moral Issue (Starting Point): I believe lying is wrong.  I feel guilt if I lie and seek right-ness because of that guilt.

When I see another person lie, I…

Option A)    Ignore/forget what I saw. (Attitude of ???) I can make this choice for many reasons: the setting is inappropriate, a bigger problem is at stake, I am lazy, I am afraid of choices B, C, or D, I am not educated enough to do anything else, etc.

Option B)    Share/teach/dialogue with that person on my perspective. (Attitude of love) Goal is to attain a shared understanding, perhaps leading to a change in their or my own moral/ethical beliefs. (The extremes: if they agree with me, they feel guilt for lying and their behavior changes. If my view changes, I no longer feel guilt from lying and my behavior changes.)

Option C)    Cast Judgment. (Attitude of un-love) Holding a lower view of that person in your own estimation.

  1. Passively, internally. (Similar to inner bitterness)
  2. Actively, confrontationally. Goal is to change their perspective so they feel guilt like I would.

Option D)    Accept/Fall/Join. (Attitude of pseudo-love) Weakness of dedication to personal beliefs. Results in personal guilt or a pattern of acceptance and a change in personal beliefs.

  1. Passively, internally. Only I know that I broke my moral belief.
  2. Actively, openly. I join the person in doing what I believe to be wrong.

Option E)     A mix of any of the above.

Notes:

Option A is often a really good choice and is probably the one I utilize the most.

Option B would be my go-to option if I lived in a perfect world.

Option C is, ironically, immoral and, if I’m honest, perhaps the most common reaction I have aside from Option A.

Option D is by definition the immoral option and it happens upon occasion because of peer pressure, frustration, tiredness, and other reasons that result in a momentary lapse of self-control.

Option E is complex and probably very common. I could try to ignore the behavior, then attempt to dialogue about it, and then join in the behavior while the entire time holding a judgmental attitude.

Well, there it is. What does this lead you think about? How would you like to see this re-worded or re-worked? Does it make any sense?

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