The Great Moral Depression

36 comments

There has been lots of talk about our latest economic crisis being the worst since the Great Depression.  Is that the truth?  Or was that just political fear mongering in the midst of a tight presidential election?

There are no doubt many signs that our economy is in crisis and probably getting worse before it gets better.  But just how bad is it?  “Great Depression” bad?

Video game and system sales have been breaking records in the month of October.  A week ago lines were wrapped around stores hundreds of people long to be the first in line to get the new Blackberry Storm.  I’m sure that long, agonizing wait must have been torturous for those poor Americans – having to wait outside for so long to get their Blackberry Storms.  Surely this is how they felt waiting in line at soup kitchens during the Great Depression.  Not.

Oh, what the Greatest Generation must be thinking of us now!  They must feel how a parent feels when their 13-yr old kid whines to them, “My life is so hard and stressful and busy…you couldn’t possibly understand.”

But I thought our generation was supposed to be the enlightened ones, right?  Granny ain’t got nothing on me and my iPod Touch.  Yeah, right.

So is this really another Great Depression?  Is it that bad?  Maybe it is.  Or maybe we’re not there quite yet.  Actually, I think it’s worse.

Yes, many people are losing their jobs, the stock market is at record lows, and our entire financial system is on the verge of utter ruin.  But we can make it through that stuff.  We help each other out.  We pass out some food.  And with some time and a lot of hard work, we not only make it through, but we become better and stronger for it.  That’s what happened in the Great Depression.

The problems we have now are much, much worse.  I’m afraid that there are many Americans today that would choose the Blackberry Storm over the blackberry pie even if they were starving to death.

On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, a man was killed when a crowd of 2000 people broke down the doors to a Wal-Mart at 5am and trampled him to death.  It brings a whole new (and darker) meaning to the phrase “killer bargain.”

Such is our obsession with stuff.  We are so sick that we’ve twisted one of the greatest traditions we have – giving – into a way to support our addiction to more and more stuff.

We aren’t maybe heading into a depression – we’re in one.  And the economic depression to come is only a symptom of the greater moral depression we’ve been sinking into for awhile now.

It’s sad how it takes the threat of losing our stuff for us to realize our addiction to it.  Like how it often takes an addict overdosing and killing themselves before anyone realizes the person even had a problem in the first place.

Our country killed 1.3 million babies in the womb last year alone (our planet killed about 46 million – just last year).  40-50% of marriages are ending in divorce.  40% of babies are born out of wedlock.  Well over 50% of Americans think that sex outside of marriage is OK.  20% commit adultery.  Pornography is rivaling baseball as our favorite national past-time.  Further efforts to undermine the family by redefining marriage are wildly popular and borderline majorities in some states.  The Family structure and the most innocent humans among us are under attack.

And we wonder why we have so many broken homes?

And then we wonder why we have people that grow up and don’t know how to truly love themselves, much less somebody else?

And then we wonder why we have teen pregnancies?  And drug abuse?  And depression?

And we wonder why we have poor people that can’t afford to feed themselves, who go on to build broken families of their own?

And then we wonder why we have people so scared and so confused that they will kill the human life living inside of them – their own son or daughter?

And then we wonder why these greedy, powerful people that we’ve created, enabled, and encouraged to put money first don’t have our best interests at heart?  And we sit back and pull splinters out of their eyes, too blind to see the plank in our own.

And instead of seeing what we’ve done wrong, we point fingers.  Or worse, instead of rejecting our vices we victimize ourselves in the name of some new disease or disorder.  And we deal with the symptoms by throwing medication, birth control, or government handouts at it.  But all of that is just enough to put a suit and tie on the addict and dress him up for work tomorrow – ready to fool the world for one more day.

We are in the midst of a Great Moral Depression.  This economic crisis is but a side-effect of a much deeper problem.  And unless we address the issues at the root, we will continue to mistake fleeting happiness for genuine joy.

Will it take an overdose before we finally get it?  Will we kill ourselves first?  Maybe “911″ should start accepting txt messages.

36 comments Add comment

Jamie December 1, 2008 at 4:38 pm

I couldn’t agree more.
Look…I’m dabbling! ;)

L December 2, 2008 at 12:19 am

Well said!

Matthew Warner December 2, 2008 at 10:20 am

Thanks, Jamie and L! Great job on the dabbling!

Paul Nichols December 2, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Great Depression my Aunt Fanny.

You’ve touched on something, Matthew. We ARE obsessed with our STUFF. The great cluelessness of the younger generation goes hand in hand with their accumulation of various electronic gadgetry, which seems to be the highlight of life for so many these days.

Jack du Toit December 3, 2008 at 11:06 am

I agree whole heartedly. Although an obsession with physical possessions is just a manifestation of the concept of self. Its not important that there is an iPod in your pocket; it is important that it is in YOUR pocket, or that it is YOUR iPod. The obsession is not with the thing, but the ownership of things. This problem is not some recent phenomenon either. Jesus, Confucius, the Buddha, and many more have acknowledged the problem of possession in association with the problem of Self. Sure the names have changed, but society is no worse off now than it ever have been…the names have just changed.

Matthew Warner December 3, 2008 at 11:16 am

Great point, Jack! Well stated, too.

But I would be hesitant to say society is “no worse now than it ever has been.” Just because a problem has always existed does not mean it’s always been just as bad. That’s a fallacy of logic. Certainly there are times in history when, as a culture, we drift further one way or the other. I think right now is one of the down times – comparatively.

Jack du Toit December 3, 2008 at 11:46 am

And I would simply ask compared to where or when? Compared to Germany in the late thirties or early forties I would say we are doing better. Compared to the Soviet Union during…well…pretty much any period of history, we are doing rather well. My point is that comparing a society’s moral spectrum from one time or another gets you nowhere. Humanity has never really had much of a high point – comparatively. The root of the problem lies within our concept of self. It is through viewing ourselves as separate beings that we try and use other people for our own gains. The problem is seeing people as “its,” rather than “you’s.” That problem has not gotten worse or better since human realization.

Matthew Warner December 3, 2008 at 12:18 pm

First of all, you just admitted that we are doing better compared to some cultures at different points in history. Then I’m sure you’ll admit that it is likely that we are doing worse than at others times? (So it would NOT be true to say that society is “no worse off now than ever.”)

I whole heartedly disagree that this kind of comparison gets us nowhere. Not in the comparison itself, but in our comparative progress of improvement in this regard – it is definitely important. In fact, wouldn’t this kind of progress be precisely the kind of progress necessary to bring about the Kingdom of God?

And from a buddhist point of view, would this not be the kind of comparative progress necessary to achieve “enlightenment”?

If an individual can make such moral progression or regression, then certainly an overall culture can do the same.

Second, we ARE separate beings. Let’s not confuse eastern philosophy with Christianity. They have some similarities and share some common wisdom – but they are also very different. “You” are not “me.” “God” is not “me” and “I” am not “God.” We are separate beings. True, we are to share a mysterious unity in Christ as one body – but that doesn’t make us one being and it doesn’t make us the same as God.

And in regard to this problem of selfishness, I believe that even in my lifetime our culture has become more selfish – not less. And it definitely hasn’t stayed the same.

Jack du Toit December 3, 2008 at 12:51 pm

My admit to us doing better compared to certain cultures was simply to use your line of thinking, not to make that a separate case. My opinion is that it is irrelevant to compare our culture to another. By another I mean either a current existing foreign culture, or a culture of the past or future.

My idea that “comparison gets you nowhere,” simply stems from the fact that comparisons are rarely, if ever, entirely fair. It is not an equal comparison to compare my life with your’s, or my choices with anyone else’s. It would be like having one person play a game of a baseball and watching his friend play basketball, then telling his friend he is breaking every rule in the game. The games are simply not on equal grounds for comparison. Don’t confuse this argument, I’m not arguing for a subjective morality, I’m simply saying that it is not our place to judge any person/society in so much as comparing it to ourselves. I will add more to this comment in a minute…after class. Looking forward to your response. :)

Matthew Warner December 3, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Now you’re bustin’ out the “J” word. :-) Nobody is “Judging” any persons. And we are not making comparisons just for the sake of saying that we are better or worse than anybody (i.e it’s not about being fair).

But if you are saying that we are not supposed to judge the actions of others (whether it’s people in our society or from a different time, country, dimension) then I disagree. And I would say that Jesus would disagree too. He made it very clear that we are to judge actions, discern good from bad, and choose good.

It’s entirely helpful to compare different societies in this regard. It’s not about fairness or being able to claim one is better than the other as a whole. It’s just part of learning and progressing.

When our culture refuses to judge actions as good or bad, and confusedly chooses bad over good then we have the moral depression we are in.

Such exercises are not useless chatter about some subjective opinion or relative truth. They are a search for an ideal that is an objective reality. One that we are called to seek out.

Jack du Toit December 3, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Well now it seems we have a confusion of language. All declarative sentences are judgments. We make judgments just by claiming that we make judgments (or don’t make judgments). But, I’m speaking out against judging people. A society is simply a collection of people. Judging “today’s society” IS making a judgment upon the people of today. I think ultimately that is unfair. Comparing our society to another society is comparing apples to oranges in terms of judging action. Remember that even Catholics define “full knowledge” as a quality of sin. Many people who commit wrong acts were taught they were not wrong. This shows a clear lack in “full knowledge.”

And let us do keep focus in the discussion. The only claim I do not see eye to eye on is that this is a “Great Depression” in the moral sense. I see unbelievable acts of kindness every day in my life. What matters most is how we choose to live our life.

Matthew Warner December 3, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Again, judging people and judging actions – whether individually or as a society – are two different things. You are confusing them.

You are talking about culpability of sin when you talk about “full knowledge.” That has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion. Whether or not a person is morally culpable for a sin is a separate matter than if the sin is objectively morally bad. We SHOULD judge the latter. And I believe that in doing so for our current society, regardless of the many good things that do happen (you are right), reveals aspects that reflect a great moral depression.

It’s an objective reality and comparison – not apples to oranges. A murdered baby in 1930 is just as morally grave as a murdered baby in 2008. I’m not talkin about how morally culpable each person would be. I’m talking about the objective act with an objective evil to it. Certainly if we had x number of abortions in 19-whatever and we have 100x abortions in 2008 then, in that regard, we are worse off morally than before. Add that up over the multitude of issues we have and we see how cultures change morally. You can disagree if we are IN a moral depression if you like and make your case, but I don’t think you can say that such a thing does not exist or is impossible or futile to assess.

Jack du Toit December 3, 2008 at 4:14 pm

I do not disagree that we can judge actions, never did. But when you claim to judge a society, which you still insist on doing by claiming that today’s society is in a state of moral depression, you are no longer judging action; you are judging people.

Since it keeps coming up, let look at abortion. Abortion is a great issue in this discussion, because we can both agree that it is 100%, in its very essence, wrong. We have placed our judgment on this action, which is fine. It is fallacy, even through Christian glasses for saying “people who get abortions are bad.” We are only allow to judge up to “abortion is bad.” So when you claim, society is deficient in morality, because it has abortions, you are claiming that “many people are bad.” I’m not confusing the two. Abortion IS wrong. That’s fine, but MORE people doing it does not make it MORE wrong. THAT’S objectivity. Moral objectivity dictates something being wrong, INDEPENDENT of human experience or involvement. To say that the moral characteristics of abortion somehow change based on how many are had, would be giving a subjective quality to it, which is fine, assuming you claim some amount of moral subjectivity.

Matthew Warner December 3, 2008 at 4:24 pm

1) I’m judging the ACTIONS of our society.

2) 1 million abortions is OBJECTIVELY MORE than 1 abortion. There is nothing subjective about that. Stealing $1,000,000 is OBJECTIVELY MORE than stealing $1. Therefore, the moral gravity is objectively MORE in one case than the other. You are making it more complicated than it is and accusing me of claiming things that I never claimed.

Jack du Toit December 3, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Am not. :) I’m simply saying that quantity does not alter a thing when talking how right or wrong something is.

In response to 1, you are doing more than judging the actions of society. You are drawing conclusions from the actions judged. Let me see if I can clarify my thoughts on your thoughts (a sad notion if I’ve ever heard one).

X is wrong. Society does lots and lots of X. Therefore, society is lots and lots of wrong.

Where I see the slip up is using the word “is” in sentence three of that claim. It should be the word “does.” Just because society DOES wrong, does not mean society IS wrong.

If all you are claiming is that society does wrong (or lots and lots of wrong), then I’m just curious as to how statements such as, “we wonder why these greedy, powerful people that we’ve created,” or, “we have poor people that can’t afford to feed themselves, who go on to build broken families of their own” have any relevance in the argument. Even it its not an open judgment, it certainly would seem to the untrained reader, like me, that there is a large hint of judgment of people in some of those statements. Bah, but who knows, I’m just a dumb materialistic electro-baby anyway. :P

Matthew Warner December 4, 2008 at 11:33 am

Electro-baby, be curious no longer. Just read what I wrote. Those examples (greedy people, needy people, etc.) are given as questions….suggesting that we should not be surprised to have such problems when our fundamental moral priorities are confused (the dignity of human life and the importance of the family).

And I totally disagree. If a society DOES wrong then society IS wrong – at least in as much as it does wrong. That’s just common sense. And that’s not passing a personal judgment on somebody’s moral culpability.

When you sin – you may or may not be morally culpable for the sin(that’s between you and God), but either way you still DO wrong and ARE wrong when you do it. That’s not passing judgment on you, personally. That’s passing judgment on your action.

Jack du Toit December 4, 2008 at 6:38 pm

It would seem to me that we are talking in circles. I understand paragraphs one and three of your last comment. Paragraph two is still the one that needs light shone upon it, for I am quite blind. I understand that from the basic common sense reasoning “if someone does wrong, someone is wrong.” I simply think that is the kind of judgment Christ, and many others, would tell us not to make.

Matthew Warner December 4, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Jack, you are blinded by your intellect! :-) You are just over-thinking this I think. Paragraph two is the easiest one by far.

It is basic language. Here’s an example:

If a man commits (DOES) a murder. Then he IS a murderer. Jesus was quite comfortable calling things like they are. I’m not passing judgment on the murderer by calling him a murderer. I’m just calling him what he is. That’s all I’ve done with this post.

Phil December 4, 2008 at 9:46 pm

Hmmm…that’s a curious analogy when speaking on the topic of judging ‘actions’ and not ‘individuals’. I want to ask you Matt about something we had once discussed – forgive me as it was on another topic but I would love to hear a Catholic perspective on the act of judging so that I can better understand why some things are as they are.

I presume that it is acceptable as a Catholic to say murder is bad. Is it also acceptable as a Catholic to say a murderer is bad?

If the latter is true, is it acceptable as a Catholic to say a homosexual is bad?

The way I see it, murderer is to murder as homosexual is to homosexuality. Murder is a sin. Homosexuality is a sin. If a murderer can be deemed as bad then by that ration a homosexual can also?

Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

Matthew Warner December 4, 2008 at 10:16 pm

Well, good question, but I would disagree with your comparison. Murder is an action. Being a homosexual is not an action…just like being a heterosexual is not an action.

I would say murderer is to murder as fornicator is to fornication.

Having sex outside of marriage is bad. So if you have sex outside of marriage (whether you are homosexual or heterosexual) you are doing something bad.

The Church doesn’t call any kind of attraction or tendency or orientation or temptation sinful – disordered perhaps, but not sinful. Acting on them is an entirely different thing. That is the sin. That is where we make a choice to either choose Good (God) or choose bad (reject God).

That’s the teaching as I understand it.

And again, to clarify again, this is not judging the soul of the person that may be committing these acts or their culpability.

So being a homosexual is not a sin. The Church doesn’t ask homosexuals to stop being homosexual anymore than it asks unmarried heterosexuals to stop being heterosexuals. It does ask them to keep sex in its proper place – within a sacramental marriage.

Phil December 4, 2008 at 10:37 pm

Ok, thanks. The explanation of acting on the sin makes sense. Jesus says that one must judge actions – this is the only way to differentiate good from evil. That I can accept.

But what is still not clear to me is how my comparison does not work – can you elaborate? (it’s late maybe I am missing something)

You say being a homosexual is not an action. I agree. Just as being a murderer is not an action.

Homosexuality, however, IS an action (I hope I don’t need to elaborate on why it is an act but I can if you want!) As I understand it, this is the ‘act’ (i.e. homosexual acts) that the Church deems as a sin. Murder is also an action or act that the Church deems sinful.

So if homosexuality is a sinful act, and murder is a sinful act, then how can it be acceptable by the Church to generalize that murderers are bad and not generalize that homosexuals are bad? Is that a double standard or am I missing the point?

Phil December 4, 2008 at 10:45 pm

Ok, now that I think about it I understand more of what you are saying but it still doesn;t seem consistent to me.

Hetrosexuals engage in heterosexual sex. This is the act. Homosexuals engage in homosexual sex. This is the act.

But, along that rationale, if a person commits murder he then becomes a murderer and murderers are bad.

But if a person engages in homosexual sex he then becomes homosexual but homsoexuals are ok?

Matthew Warner December 5, 2008 at 2:09 am

If being a “murderer” was an orientation or a tendency…then it would be more correct in your comparison. But it’s not.

One has to have committed an evil act (murder) to be a murderer.

Being a homosexual does not require any action at all – it’s an orientation. So there is no evil committed in simply being a homosexual (or a heterosexual). For example: i don’t “become” a heterosexual by having heterosexual sex…as you are suggesting. I’m a heterosexual regardless of whether I have sex or not.

That is why I suggested fornication as a better comparison. That is the evil action that makes it a sin(bad, evil, whatever).

That is why we would not say that homosexuals are bad. There is no prerequisite of a committed evil act in simply being a homosexual.

We CAN say that murderers are bad because by definition of being a murderer it requires that you commit an evil act – murder.

Regardless, we are called to love every person. And loving a person means wanting good things for them. So that often means calling them out when they do bad things and helping them to correct it. That’s not judging them. That’s loving them.

And let me further clarify this whole calling people “bad” or “evil” thing – which I think Jack was more sensitive to earlier.

Man is both evil AND good. We are evil in as much as we do evil things. And we are good in as much as we do good things (in addition to the inherent dignity endowed by our creator). These are objective things (if we believe in an objective good and evil – which we do).

So anytime we are calling somebody evil it is attached to their actions. And saying somebody is bad is not the same as saying they are ALL bad. And it is not judging their eternal salvation, their intentions, or their culpability for these actions. But because what they are doing is bad, we can call it that.

And it might be less objectionable to say evil-DOER rather than evil person. But we are really saying the same thing when it comes down to it.

Phil December 5, 2008 at 9:41 am

1. Engaging in homosexual acts is a sin.
2. Engaging in murder a sin.

Someone who commits 1. should be labeled a homosexual (or bi-sexual) just as someone who commits 2. should be labeled as a murderer.

Murderers are evil. Homosexuals are good?

Someone who commits 1. is exempt from being labeled as a bad person because it’s an orientation or tendancy? I thought 1. was an action?

This is my understanding of what you are saying. Correct, no?

Phil December 5, 2008 at 9:56 am

Maybe I should rephase my question(s).

If one commits homosexual acts, irrespective of orientation, is one then evil?

If one commits murderous acts, is one then evil?

Matthew Warner December 5, 2008 at 10:22 am

Your problem above is that you are defining a homosexual by their actions – which is incorrect. Whereas being a murderer IS defined by an action.

Your rephrased questions make more sense (if by homosexual acts you are speaking of sexual acts between same-sex people).

Yes, if one commits homosexual acts (i.e. fornication) they are participating in an evil act (choosing against God).

If one commits heterosexual acts outside of marriage (fornication) they are participating in an evil, also.

If somebody murders somebody they are also participating in an evil act (doing evil and therefore choosing against God.)

Phil December 5, 2008 at 12:00 pm

So I understand, people who commit sinful acts like murder are evil (they become murderers once they murder and murder is evil so they are therefore evil).

But people who commit sinful acts like homosexual sex are not evil because homosexuality is an orientation or a tendency (they don’t become homosexual once they engage in homosexual sex so they are therefore good)?

I am confused. I thought Jesus judges actions? If both the action of comitting murder and homosexual sex are evil, then how can only murderers be construed as evil and not homosexuals?

A person commits the evil sin of stealing. He is therefore evil. This is like your murder statement.

But because he is a kleptomaniac and he has a tendency to steal does this make him exempt from being labeled as evil and therefore good? (if not evil, he must be good) Some studies show that kleptomania is a ‘born with’ disease “Some research evidence suggests that kleptomania may be linked to problems with a naturally occurring brain chemical called serotonin.”

If a klepo is born klepto, is this not how he is orientated? If so, can he be deemed as evil as one would deem a murderer evil (based on the acts he commits)?

Do we judge a stealer with a tendancy or orientation to stealing differently than one who seldoms steals? Moreover, can we not judge a stealer with a tendancy or orientation to steal as we can judge a murderer?

If Jesus is judging acts, leading to “evil” assumptions that result in lableing SOME individuals (like murderers) as “evil”, why are individuals with evil tendencies exempt while others are not? Doesn’t this seem rather grey and maybe even intellectually dishonest? Sort of like picking and choosing?

Phil December 5, 2008 at 12:21 pm

It seems to me that the Church agrees to call a spade a spade when society as a whole agrees that a spade is a spade (murderers are evil, stealers are evil, etc.)

But on the grey topics – i.e. what the Church thinks is evil (i.e. homosexual acts) and society may not fully agree with, the Church fails to take a stance that is consistent with other stances that society agrees with, like calling a murderer evil or a stealer evil. To me this is intellectually dishonest. The Church has every right to maintain it’s values and beliefs but it should always call a spade a spade, irrespective of what society deems as acceptable. Otherwise it’s just politics and trying not offend certain groups – no need to worry about offending murderers and stealers but homosexuals is a different story!

This is interesting to me and this is why I am so fascinated by our conversation – thank you!

Matthew Warner December 5, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Dude, I never said people who commit homosexual acts are good – where are you getting that? I said the opposite. They are participating in an evil. I don’t understand what the confusion is?

We would not say that homosexuals are bad. THis is because we don’t know if homosexuals have committed homosexual acts. Because homosexuals, by the definition of being a homosexual only requires you to have a certain orientation. And simply having this orientation is NOT sinful.

Homosexuals who have lived in accordance with God’s law and not committed fornication have not done evil. Homosexuals that HAVE committed fornication HAVE done evil. Where is the greyness here? There is no picking and choosing at all.

Whether a person steals because of a disorder or not doesn’t change that the act is evil in itself and that they are participating in this evil.

The place where disorders, tendencies, addictions, etc. come in are when we are talking about culpability – which is not what we’re talking about here.

God will judge their culpability because only he can know what is truly in their heart and what they are dealing with. We do not judge that – we can’t. And that is the kind of judging that Jesus preaches against.

What we can do is recognize that what they are doing is evil and that they themselves are participating in this evil. What made them do it or their tendency to do it has nothing to do with it.

I think the root of the problem here is you are defining a homosexual by their acts. That is not correct. Look at the definition of a homosexual. It has nothing to do with what they DO. It has to do with their sexual orientation. Same as what makes a heterosexual. We won’t call a heterosexual “bad” just as we won’t call a homosexual “bad” simply for having an orientation.

We call heterosexuals bad or evil when they commit an evil act – like fornication. Same goes for homosexuality. It is the action of fornication that is the participation of evil – not simply being a homosexual or heterosexual.

Stealing and murdering are NOT legit comparisons to sexual orientation because they both involve – by their very definition – that the person being labeled as such to have committed a sinful act (stealing or murdering).

Matthew Warner December 5, 2008 at 12:33 pm

It’s funny to hear somebody call the Catholic Church grey. It is the least “grey” of any institution I can think of. And it is the most consistent too. But I can see how misconceptions of what the Church is and teaches could make somebody think that.

It’s also funny to hear somebody talk about how the Catholic Church goes along with what’s acceptable in society. The Catholic Church is probably the most counter-cultural institution in the world. And it takes this stand simply because it is willing to call a spade a spade when the rest of the world is happy to pretend otherwise. That is an entirely different conversation though.

Phil December 5, 2008 at 12:53 pm

“We call heterosexuals bad or evil when they commit an evil act – like fornication. Same goes for homosexuality.”

Ok, I understand. So when one commits homosexual sex they then become evil. Not soley by their orientation. That is what I was confused about. This is indeed consistent with calling a murderer who has commited murder evil also.

But I was unsure as to whether or not the Church indeed says people who commit homosexual sex are evil. It was my understanding (or misunderstading) that only the acts are judged. So, by that rationale you can call the ‘act’ of murder evil, but not necessarily the individual evil. Just as you could call the act of homosexual sex evil, but not the individual who commits it evil (as with murder).

But from what I gather from your writings, muderers who commit murder are therefore evil and PEOPLE who commit homosexual acts or fonication are also evil.

Thanks for clearing it up. Cheers

Matthew Warner December 5, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Right. And that’s why I also clarified up there what I mean when I say a “person is evil.”

When I personally sin I am an evil person in that respect, too.

“Man is both evil AND good. We are evil in as much as we do evil things. And we are good in as much as we do good things (in addition to the inherent dignity endowed by our creator). These are objective things (if we believe in an objective good and evil – which we do).

So anytime we are calling somebody evil it is attached to their actions. And saying somebody is bad is not the same as saying they are ALL bad. And it is not judging their eternal salvation, their intentions, or their culpability for these actions. But because what they are doing is bad, we can call it that.

And it might be less objectionable to say evil-DOER rather than evil person. But we are really saying the same thing when it comes down to it.”

Phil December 5, 2008 at 1:06 pm

Right, understand.

I guess I never thought that the Church says that people who commit homosexual sex are evil people. This is where my confusion comes from. But this is definitely intellectually consistent with calling one who commits murder evil, or calling one who fornicates evil.

I guess I always thought the acts were judged rather than the individual, irrepsective of the sin. Great chat, thanks again.

Jack du Toit December 7, 2008 at 9:03 am

I think Phil’s issue is the same that I had. Judging the person for their actions. It’s very well to say one who has murdered is a murderer, but its really not true. Allow me to explain. We have all committed many sins in our lives, as well as many acts of good, but those actions are in the past. It is unfair to say that because someone has murdered they are a murderer, because they may choose never to murder again. These sorts of labels are dangerous, because if that were true I would be a thief, doubter, heretic and all sorts of negative labels. We are supposed to declare these acts as bad, but love the individuals anyway. Jesus dined with tax collectors and prostitutes, but did not judge them for their past actions. Jesus understood that no amount of sin in the past need reflect the person in the present.

When we experience people in the present, we are only supposed to see who they are now. No past, no future. Labeling someone as a murderer because they have committed the act seems unfair in this regard. Only God claims the right to judge those for past actions, in relation to whether or not they have repented.

I also want to throw in that homosexuality is not the same as what I have just described. Homosexuality is an orientation, as Matt has said, and implies no action. Just like I am a homo sapien, or white. I’m curious of either of your thoughts on this. By the way I’m rocking it out at this competition, Matt.

Matthew Warner December 8, 2008 at 9:33 am

Jack – you have a very bad habit of creating straw-men arguments. This is yet another one.

I never said that just because somebody commits something once that they should forever be labeled as that. And nothing in my post suggested such a thing. But yet now you’ve just countered that argument inferring that I had said such a thing. It’s a distraction to this conversation.

You also present more bad logic when you seem to infer that if we call something as it is (i.e. somebody who murders a “murderer”) that somehow we are not “loving” them. But this is a false dichotomy. Jesus was quite comfortable calling people prostitutes, thieves, adulterers, sinners, etc and then dining with them and loving them. We must do both also.

This is all I’ve done on this post. It is a fact that there is a lot of immorality going on in our society right now (present tense)…so labeling our society as immoral (present tense) is not an inappropriate thing to do. It doesn’t judge anyone’s soul or exclude us from loving everyone at the same time. And it is not a dangerous label – it’s an accurate one.

And in regard to Phil’s last response:

If we define an “evil person” as a person who DOES evil…then it is the exact same thing to say that a murderer is an evil person as it is to say that a murderer does evil. There is no difference except perhaps one sounds more like a personal attack on the surface…but in reality they say the exact same thing.

So to call a fornicator an evil person is the same thing as saying that they are committing evil – if we use that definition.

If you can clarify your understanding of what evil is or what an evil person is, perhaps I can clarify it more so we don’t have any misunderstanding on it.

The acts ARE judged – not the individual. Words like murderer and fornicator are DESCRIBING the individual…but the description is based on a verifiable fact of an act that they have done or are doing. Hence their action is still the focus of the judgment.

The Church teaches we are to love everyone no matter what.

Jerry Berry August 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Interesting that no one is quoting Scripture; that is what does God say on the subject.

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