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Traveler

When does compassion become enabling to sin?

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When dealing with others we are told to have compassion.  But there is a caveat.  If someone creating offences is not criticized - that can be enabling.  It appears to me that whatever sin or offence is committed that there is also enabling support.  I watched a show on TV about an individual overweight (in excess of 600 lbs).  The person was so overweight that they could not get out of bed and required someone to care for them - but the person caring for them was enabling their weight problem.

There are many kinds of sins and sinners like the overweight person in the TV program that rely on someone to enable their crisis.  From time to time various discussions have taken place in this forum concerning LGBTQ+, or marriage problems, or other problems involving WOW or some other aspect of the gospel where someone may be falling short.  Most often when there is disagreement in these things - it seems to me to be related to this concept of compassion as opposed to enabling.

For me - I do not believe that enabling is a proper show of compassion or even related to compassion.  But I wonder if compassion can be interpreted by others as enabling or that we may even think that to truly have compassion we must be willing to somewhat enable and support improper sinful behavior?

Perhaps Jesus is an example when he said to the woman taken in adultery - "I forgive you; go your way and sin no more."  But the reality is for addictions (which is the usual case of sexual offenses) that "go your way and sin no more" is hardly sufficient for ending a condition.

Any suggestions on being compassionate but not enabling?

 

The Traveler

Edited by Traveler

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I have a buddy who left the church and married a lady who apparently had surgery and now goes by a male name.  

It's not my job to convert him, it's my job to love him.   It's not my job to try to split apart his family or call him to repentance.  They tell me transitioning transgender folk have a suicide rate through the roof.  I'm careful not to criticize his lifestyle or choice of partner.  The day he resigned from the church, I told him he was still ok in my book.  Such gestures means he's willing to consider my point of view.  We like to argue a lot on Facebook, and I'll often argue with him when he's out there posting smack about the church.  Politics too.  I try hard to keep it civil, he often does too.

We haven't seen each other f2f in over 25 years.  The notion that I'm "enabling" him by not preaching at him, or openly refusing to accept his marriage (or whatever he calls it) just seems silly to me.

 

Edited by NeuroTypical

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I'm also reminded of a bit of LDS news I saw years ago - an LDS guy went out of his way to befriend one of the regular General Conference protesters.  They've struck up something of a friendship.  The critic stays at this guy's house every 6 months when he comes to protest.  They work hard on keeping things civil, and his basic goal is to love this guy as genuinely as he can.   

And another bit of LDS news from years ago, where we had choirs of Young Women go sing hymns in close proximity to the protesters.  One young woman shared an experience where they were singing sweetly and beautifully, and she made eye contact with one of louder sign-waving protesters and smiled at him.  He paused for a moment, looked at his sign, looked almost embarrassed at his own behavior.  

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29 minutes ago, Traveler said:

Perhaps Jesus is an example when he said to the woman taken in adultery - "I forgive you; go your way and sin no more."

Sorry to pick at a nit and risk distracting from your post topic, but I want to mention that Jesus never said to the woman taken in adultery, "I forgive you." What he said was, "Neither do I condemn you." Very different. This life is our time to prepare to meet God. It's not a time for condemnation, even by God. His hand of mercy is ever extended toward us. But we mistake God's lack of immediate condemnation as forgiveness at our own deep peril. Repentance, and only repentance, brings forgiveness.

The Lord says to each of us, "Neither do I condemn you," but always includes the addendum, "Sin no more." As was true with the woman taken in adultery, so the same is true for us. God withholds, at least temporarily, his condemnation, so that we have a space of time to repent. But our condemnation is not withheld permanently. We must take advantage of this period that we have been given to choose righteousness and life over misery and death. If the woman taken in adultery did not heed the Master's command to "sin no more", it is guaranteed that her condemnation eventually came upon her in full force.

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This is definitely something I have struggled with over my life. There have been many times where my own self righteousness has condemned me far more than the person I was passing judgement on. But I'd like to think I've made some progress in my life towards being more compassionate and loving. I think the answer to your question comes from one of my personal experiences.

I was a member of the local branch presidency, the First Councilor, when a member of our congregation was called in for a disciplinary council. This member was guilty of breaking the Law of Chastity, and had been working with the Branch President on regaining their full standing in the church. I remember distinctly, as if it was yesterday, the strong feelings of inadequacy I felt being in that position. I thought "what right do I have to judge you, when I am guilty of many sins in my own past?". But I also felt nothing but love and concern for this member, and was excited that they wanted to come back into the fold. Never at any time did I feel superior to them, or that they should be cast out for their weaknesses. They were trying to regain their hold on the iron rod, and it was my job to help them get there. We gave this member instructions on how to continue with the repentance process and sent them on their way. 

I share this experience, because it taught me how I should react to those who fall from the path God has set for us, including myself. We never condoned this person's sin, and if this member had not been repentant we would have had to have taken further steps, but never once did I feel superior to them, or feel as though I had the right to condemn them. I think that's how you stand for truth but refrain from enabling at the same time. Exactly as the Savior did with the woman caught in adultery. He loved her, and protected her from the self righteous, but also taught her truth and did not shrink from telling her to get her life back on track. It can be hard to do as a fallen human being, but as always Christ is our perfect example in all things.

Edited by Midwest LDS

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By remembering that the whole purpose of this life is to see if we will "Do all that the Lord commands"

Before we can 'do all that the Lord commands' we have to know what the Lord commands.

Those that know God's commands are instructed to make it known to others.  Full Stop.

Nothing in any of the Lord's commands call us to try to compel them.  Instruct Sure. Compel no.  They either will or they will not.

Once they know what God's commands are they are free to choose and we need to respect that choice even if we disagree with that.

Once we have made it known and followed that commandment we are expected to follow all the other commands. "Love One Another", "Love thy Enemies" etc. etc.

Thus we instruct and we Love.  If we find that some of our loving action are being taking as "permission to sin"  Then we have a Paul not eating meat sacrificed to idol moment and adjust accordingly.  If however we let the mere possibility of such a misunderstanding stop us from Loving then we are making our own choice to disobey.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Vort said:

Sorry to pick at a nit and risk distracting from your post topic, but I want to mention that Jesus never said to the woman taken in adultery, "I forgive you." What he said was, "Neither do I condemn you." Very different. This life is our time to prepare to meet God. It's not a time for condemnation, even by God. His hand of mercy is ever extended toward us. But we mistake God's lack of immediate condemnation as forgiveness at our own deep peril. Repentance, and only repentance, brings forgiveness.

The Lord says to each of us, "Neither do I condemn you," but always includes the addendum, "Sin no more." As was true with the woman taken in adultery, so the same is true for us. God withholds, at least temporarily, his condemnation, so that we have a space of time to repent. But our condemnation is not withheld permanently. We must take advantage of this period that we have been given to choose righteousness and life over misery and death. If the woman taken in adultery did not heed the Master's command to "sin no more", it is guaranteed that her condemnation eventually came upon her in full force.

I want to thank you for this, but probably from a different direction than you would normally think.

Today has been particularly difficult for me.  I was asked earlier today to write a letter for an old acquaintance.  I first met this man in the church almost 46 years ago.  While I've known him he has done all sorts of criminal and other types of acts.  He was called as a High Priest many years prior to me, even with that type of record (and part of the reason at times I've struggle with me and others not being called High Priests when we were younger, and yet some of those who are blatantly wicked seem to be granted such things at times), and was a member of the Bishopric, something which was not blessed upon me until more recently.

He has never felt remorse for what he has done.  He has always felt he could get away with things.  Despite all this, we have been friends.  He has helped with charity at times in helping others, and some of his actions were due to a flawed sense of morality on his part I suppose.  That said, crimes and actions finally caught up to him.  He was sent to jail and is now guilty of murder.  He is awaiting sentencing.  Some others who know him sent out messages asking for people to write character references or letters for this man. 

I was asked if I could write a character reference for him this morning (not that it was due this morning, just asked if I would by someone today).  I immediately felt conflicted.  Instead of writing a character letter I wanted to write a letter to the judge asking for them to lock him up and toss away the key.  He still doesn't really have any remorse, the only remorse he has on this is that he finally got caught.  He had been committing adultery and in the process of events that led him to murder someone innocent.  It was simply the capstone of a long life of doing things and seemingly to get away with it.  There were other events of questionable nature in his past, including other periods of questionable indiscretion that he simply waltzed on by seemingly without being touched. 

I was his friend, and yet here I was wanting him to have as severe a punishment as possible.  I had to ask myself, had I truly forgiven him.  Was this desire out of wanting him to pay for the crimes he was actually in prison for, or some deeper rooted grudge out of anger and frustration.  I have had a tough time trying to sort this out today.  I have had very mixed emotions and truly wanted to write a letter exactly opposite of what he wanted and send it in to hopefully make him have the harshest sentence possible.  Even if the church gave him a free pass, I suppose I wanted him to at last have some repercussions of the damage he had done to others.

I couldn't get past this mindset today.  I've tried.  I was not making any progress.  How I could feel that towards this man who had been an acquaintance for so long, who we've kept in contact despite being in different areas for such a while was in many ways driving away the spirit at times for me today.

We are to forgive all men, and I thought I had forgiven him a long time ago...so this was suddenly a new struggle.  Perhaps it was because I suddenly was not just expected to let him on his way, but actually write something to show that he was of good character.  It set many emotions of pain and anger inside me.  I couldn't seem to resolve it within myself.

Then I read your post above.  Ironically, the spirit used it to talk to me.  My problem was that I had already condemned him in my heart, something I am NOT qualified to do.  I am not his judge (nor even in his church leadership).  I am not the Lord and have no right to judge, and yet, within my heart I had done so.  I know this man probably has no remorse about his actual crimes and sins, but it is not my place to decide whether he's condemned or not in this life.  It is the Savior's and as you have posted, the Savior (as far as I know) has not condemned the man in this life either.  It is up to the man whether he will actually repent at some point or not, but it is simply my place to try to truly forgive him for any offense that I may have seen done.  In this my sin was that I was not as forgiving as I should have been.  Instead I wanted justice and to a small degree, I suppose revenge.  That is not the Lord's way.

AS I realized this, I had a huge burden taken off my heart and I now realize I don't have to feel these feelings towards him.  I don't plan on writing a letter on his behalf, but I don't have the desire anymore to write a letter asking for a harsh judgment either.  I am happy to allow whatever happens, to happen.  If his friends and family write letters to soften his sentence, so be it.  I can continue to write the man letters in jail to show our friendship, and to visit him occasionally, but there is no need for me to feel anger or frustration over this issue any longer.  I should leave it in the Lord's hands as I should have all along, and let the Lord handle it as he will.  If the Lord forgives the man to exaltation, then I should be happy for the man, and if instead the man suffers for what he has done or pays the price, I should also accept what the Lord wills in the matter to be done.

So, I know you posted it probably as a different matter, but your post helped open the way for the Spirit to help me overcome a great struggle I was having today.  I thank you for the post that you made.

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I appreciate @Vort's response - there is a vast difference between condemn and forgiveness.  But Jesus did clarify that to "heal" someone is the same as forgiving and also Jesus did not seem to have a problem condemning the Pharisees and Lawyers.   I believe Jesus loved and had compassion for the Pharisees and Lawyers.  There are some thoughts that scriptures that warn us not to "judge" would be better translated or understood to be "condemn" - in other words, to say "Condemn not that ye be not condemned for with what means you condemned you will be condemned".

We are also told in scripture that: "That those that have been warned - it is REQUIRED that you warn your neighbor.  Is it compassionate not to warn someone in one condition (like wanting to be a mass shooter of young school kids) but not someone that wants to force society to accept marriages that are not between a man and woman.  It is my honest opinion that what people do in private between those of accountable continence - is private.  But as soon as someone wants to make anything public - that they must be willing to deal with those that disagree.  And that the golden rule be followed - in short that they treat those that they disagree with - with the same respect that they expect to be treated by those that disagree with them.  For example - I believe it wrong for someone to shun someone that disagrees with them (like a baker refusing to bake a cake) and that shunning is bigoted and prejudice -but then think it is not bigoted and prejudice for them to shun someone that disagrees with them.  In other words they want to force others to agree with what they think but believe those that disagree should never try to force them.

So is it compassionate to pretend to not believe something that you do believe just because someone you care about is doing it?

When do we express our beliefs or understanding of what is good and right and when do we remain silent concerning what is good and right?  When do we warn those we love and when do we allow those we love to destroy themselves?  I personally find this most difficult when it involves the relationship of parent to offspring.  My parents never left it to my imagination to guess between what I thought they believe to be good and right opposed to what they believed was sick and wrong.  I do not think I ever had a discussion (one possible exception) with my parents that should I do something they made sure I understood where they stood - and yet I never doubted that they loved me.  Can we disagree and still communicate love?

 

The Traveler 

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After reading your initial post a few quotes came to mind.

" . . . neither be partaker of other men's sins; keep thyself pure."  -- I Timothy 5:22

"Mercy detached from justice grows unmerciful."  -- C.S. Lewis

We definitely should not encourage people to continue gross sins in their lives.  We should speak the truth to others in love with wisdom (see Ephesians 4:15) and encourage others to turn toward God.  Sometimes (many times) it is best to say nothing as the person is not ready to receive counsel.

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When my words would fall on deaf ears, or ears that would lash out or feel  ostracized, I choose not to speak. I don’t tell my trans sister that she is winning, nor do I tell my gay brother that he is winning in his actions. But if they ask me I will tell them what I believe, and then crush them in a round of Smash Bros.

That is a personal policy... I don’t know that it is centered in any prophetic teaching... but that is what I feel most comfortable with.

Edited by Fether

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9 hours ago, Vort said:

Sorry to pick at a nit and risk distracting from your post topic, but I want to mention that Jesus never said to the woman taken in adultery, "I forgive you." What he said was, "Neither do I condemn you." Very different. This life is our time to prepare to meet God. It's not a time for condemnation, even by God. His hand of mercy is ever extended toward us. But we mistake God's lack of immediate condemnation as forgiveness at our own deep peril. Repentance, and only repentance, brings forgiveness.

The Lord says to each of us, "Neither do I condemn you," but always includes the addendum, "Sin no more." As was true with the woman taken in adultery, so the same is true for us. God withholds, at least temporarily, his condemnation, so that we have a space of time to repent. But our condemnation is not withheld permanently. We must take advantage of this period that we have been given to choose righteousness and life over misery and death. If the woman taken in adultery did not heed the Master's command to "sin no more", it is guaranteed that her condemnation eventually came upon her in full force.

I love this so much! It should be a meme.

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36 minutes ago, Connie said:

I love this so much! It should be a meme.

I would have gone with Batman, but you can't read it.

image.jpeg.753a9d6b78d3c4bf5368c51be213fe1e.jpeg

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Oh, fine. I guess it's a bit too text heavy for a meme. 😄 But my inner girly girl wants to take it and put some sort of decorative border around it. My practical side just wants to post it on facebook.

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36 minutes ago, Connie said:

Oh, fine. I guess it's a bit too text heavy for a meme. 😄 But my inner girly girl wants to take it and put some sort of decorative border around it. My practical side just wants to post it on facebook.

I was jist joshin' ya.

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Guest MormonGator
On 10/23/2019 at 10:00 PM, Fether said:

 then crush them in a round of Smash Bros.

That's what really matters. 🙂

On 10/23/2019 at 1:18 PM, Midwest LDS said:

 There have been many times where my own self righteousness has condemned me far more than the person I was passing judgement on.

Your entire post was 5 stars bro, but this was particularly insightful to me. I've noticed that many people who are harsh in their judgments/condemnations are in a far worse place than those they condemn. Often times someone will give lip service to their own sins "Oh, I'm a sinner too" but then tear into others for their weakness and failures with a viciousness. It's brutal to see.   From my own experience what I've seen is the more you focus on the sins of others the less you focus on your own self improvement. Like I said, you'll give lip service to how imperfect you (generic!) are, but you don't really mean it. 

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On 10/23/2019 at 10:32 AM, Traveler said:

When dealing with others we are told to have compassion.  But there is a caveat.  If someone creating offences is not criticized - that can be enabling.  It appears to me that whatever sin or offence is committed that there is also enabling support.  I watched a show on TV about an individual overweight (in excess of 600 lbs).  The person was so overweight that they could not get out of bed and required someone to care for them - but the person caring for them was enabling their weight problem.

There are many kinds of sins and sinners like the overweight person in the TV program that rely on someone to enable their crisis.  From time to time various discussions have taken place in this forum concerning LGBTQ+, or marriage problems, or other problems involving WOW or some other aspect of the gospel where someone may be falling short.  Most often when there is disagreement in these things - it seems to me to be related to this concept of compassion as opposed to enabling.

For me - I do not believe that enabling is a proper show of compassion or even related to compassion.  But I wonder if compassion can be interpreted by others as enabling or that we may even think that to truly have compassion we must be willing to somewhat enable and support improper sinful behavior?

Perhaps Jesus is an example when he said to the woman taken in adultery - "I forgive you; go your way and sin no more."  But the reality is for addictions (which is the usual case of sexual offenses) that "go your way and sin no more" is hardly sufficient for ending a condition.

Any suggestions on being compassionate but not enabling?

 

The Traveler

I personally think the sentiment is simple, the application though, eh, not so much. Compassion becomes enabling when our compassion prevents/inhibits the necessary growth to become like our Heavenly Father through Christ.

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