- Katie Buerger
Not So Black and White...
Those who have felt the presence of God understand that we, as humans, do not have the capacity to understand Him fully. God is a great––arguably, the greatest––mystery to us. He is able to understand more, knows more, loves more, and is the only truly just being in all of creation. His mind and will are not as simple as black-and-white print on a page that can be read and then fully known.
This is why it perplexes me that some Christians (and perhaps others) forget this. In Christianity, I often see a lot of pressure around either: a) whether or not someone is going to Hell; or b) whether something or other will send you to Hell. A prime example is, of course, the argument concerning whether the LGBT community is going to be damned, but it is far from the only one. Contrary to Christian teachings, Christians can be some of the most judgmental people around––perhaps out of concern for one’s spiritual well-being, but be that as it may it does not make things any easier on the one judged.
What often makes this kind of judgement even worse is its inherently hypocritical nature––because not one of us is a perfect being. We have all done something we shouldn’t have, that we regret, or that we tried to hide. None of us can say another is wrong, when we are wrong ourselves. It has to do with that old thought that when you point your finger at someone else, you point three back at yourself. This is something that comes up in the Bible multiple times (Luke 6:41-42, John 8:2-11). However, it relates to a curiously human notion that many believe in (although I am not convinced God does): that some sins are worse than others.
In many respects, this is a wholly logical belief. To us, murder is a greater crime than stealing, and stealing is a greater crime than snubbing a coworker. Our laws and societal standards clearly demonstrate this. However, I am not sure this is God’s attitude. God knows each of us, personally; He has seen all of our sins. I believe that His understanding of sin goes far beyond our own conceptions of it, and that, to Him, a sin is a sin. If you have committed any sin, that is equal to the “worst” sin. Jesus himself points out “You have heard it said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will subject to judgement.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement …anyone who says ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of Hell” [Matthew 5:21-22]. God focuses on the intents of our hearts, rather than our actions alone. Even if you never say an unkind word to someone, if you wish them ill that is as condemnable as outright homicide.
Even besides that, God sees all of an individual’s life–– every choice they’ve made, every moment leading to or coming from the particular act society might punish that individual for. God judges (or will judge) every one of us, but He is just in ways no human can be. That is why He is God, and we aren’t—and that is probably a good thing. God is not a black-and-white, court-of-law kind of judge handing out judgements based on collected evidence and police files. He is the ultimate judge, and He knows us from before we are born. We have never been shown that God is a god that takes one look at our biggest sin and then either condemns us to Hell or welcomes us to Heaven. His final judgement and ‘decision’ will be one that fully encompasses and embraces all those gray areas in life that we try to navigate.
Too often, I think, people try to “play God,” handing out punishments or condemnations for doing something “bad.” We are too black-and-white when often the single consequence we see is the result of many individual choices and gray areas – it is neither all “good” nor all “bad.” We presume too much—to know all the facts, to be capable of fully understanding the whole situation, to even know this person…ultimately, we presume to know the mind of God. Furthermore, we are forgetting our own faults in our enthusiasm to point out the faults of others.
For a little perspective, I think it is good to remember that even if someone has committed murder—forbidden in the ten commandments––we have all broken another of these “worst” sins, and more than once: honor your mother and father. In all those childhood acts of lying to your parents or doing something you weren’t supposed to, we have broken this commandment and sinned. If we aren’t screaming that a person will go to Hell for only pretending to eat their vegetables, then we shouldn’t scream that a person will go to Hell for committing adultery or being gay.
God is not black-and-white, but in fact one of the biggest “gray areas” of creation. The word of the law is precise, but God’s understanding goes far beyond our own capabilities. He is a Mystery, not a machine tallying “good” and “bad” acts; we are incapable of understanding how He may move. We cannot judge others, because we do not know them – or even ourselves. While I know that it would be impossible to completely let go of our own judgements and prejudices, we all could benefit from allowing a little more “gray” and a little more love into our attitudes towards others––in the image of God.
The Holy Bible (NIV, Quest Study Bible)
This blog is written by me, Katie Buerger (unless noted otherwise) and maintained by Case UPCaM. I am a current sophomore at CWRU, and have been an UPCaM member since my first year. Because I am Spiritual Potpourri’s exclusive writer, this means the opinions and perspectives given in blog posts are limited to my views. I think myself to be open-minded, but I am human. I do research my topics (all the sources are listed at the bottom of each post), but I ultimately can only write from my perspective as a Christian. I try to write to a general audience (not exclusively to Christians), but I do at times make assumptions about the knowledge of my readers. However, I would like to assert that my views are not representative of UPCaM’s or Christianity’s – they are mine alone.