So here is where I am currently at with things now.
As a principle, I actually don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with attributing impure motive. Those do exist and we need to know this in order to keep ourselves and others safe. And sometimes, if someone is being deliberately manipulative, it is important to know this.
Another friend of mine shared a story of a Bishop trying to decide whether to help this person or not with money and food. My friend had recently employed this person at his company the person showed up for training and when he realized there was actual… well… work that needed doing, he said “I need to go grab my keys that I left in my car”, and never came back. My friend shared this with the Bishop and it showed the Bishop that the person was lying about his situation and that he was only looking for handouts. This is a situation where his motives were made more clear and appropriate actions could be made.
I think what bothers me the most is how often people (who have no experience with any form of depression) say negative things about my co-worker. Calling them insane, manipulative, making sweeping statements that depression is fake, that they just need to get over it, making fun of the things they says and do, and just complaining about them openly. All doing it with a hostile tone in their voice. I am not convinced that this is in line with what Christ wants of us.
We can lose the tone, drop the gossip, use softer wording, and still accomplish the goal of not being taken advantage of and warning others of it too.
So I am fine with people thinking my co-worker is manipulative (though I would still argue against it), but there seems to be the sense that it is ok to speak evil of them because we have pegged them as being this bad thing and doing it on purpose.
In the gospel setting, the only people Christ cannot be helped by his grace are those that refuse it, rebel and are deliberately doing evil. In a sense, accusing my co-worker of doing this gives us reason to not offer that grace to them. It’s similar to the idea that it is ok to punch Nazi’s, so if we start calling people Nazi’s we can then justify punching them in the face.
Couple other thoughts:
- There is a difference between a wild horse that deliberately tramples and kills you out of fear and self defense, and a grizzly bear that deliberately kill you because they want to eat you. We are justified in killing a grizzly bear to protect ourselves and others, but are we doing good by killing a scared horse? Treating a person who doesn’t know how to cry out for help appropriately like a conman is going to do great harm.
- "It is better, to feed ten impostors than to run the risk of turning away one honest petition”
- “When we feel hurt or angry, it is quite easy to judge other people, often assigning dark motives to their actions in order to justify our own feelings of resentment… But when it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt.” - Elder Uchtdorf
KEY TAKE AWAYS:
- Attributing motives is not evil, but something we must do in order to know how to act in situations.
- It is easy to attribute false and negative motives to justify our own anger toward them and avoid doing what is right.
- Gossip is never appropriate
- We are all beggars and ought to offer the same grace to others we hope to receive from Christ
- Treating someone who has innocent or positive motives like they have negative motives can do much unneeded harm