Questioning Understanding

I was reading Martel’s latest post over at Alpha is Assumed, when I came across this paragraph:

I’ve been talking offline a bit with a woman who can be somewhat critical of the manosphere.  She’s definitely on our side in her opposition to feminism and support for natural gender roles, but she finds our vitriol to be somewhat counterproductive.  She’s very big on Christian love, charity, and forgiveness, believing that we can never really know why somebody ended up being a certain way.  She believes that were we more understanding and less quick to criticize, we’d be more effective.

As I see it, the woman whom Martel was speaking with was making three different points. They are:

1) The manosphere is (overly?) vitriolic and this hurts “the cause.”

2) It is impossible for us to truly understand why someone chose to act or be a certain way.

3) If the manosphere was more empathetic, and less critical, it would be more effective in getting its point across.

Now, all of those points are explicit arguments. Self-evident, if you will. But I think there is another argument being made, one that is implied:

4) It is important for us to understand people and why they do what they do.

Point 1 is something that I agree with. Of course, the manosphere is more about “educating” men than it is about “fighting for the cause.” As for point two, I agree with it in the sense that people are complicated creatures and it is impossible to know everything that makes them “tick.” However, I also disagree with it, in that as a Christian I understand that human beings are fallen creatures who are predisposed towards evil. So in a way we do know why they ended up a certain way… when that way involves sin. Regarding point 3, I think that the woman misunderstands the nature of the manosphere. As I pointed out in response to point 1, its primary purpose is to educate men. But ultimately, these aren’t the points that matter. It is point 4 that drives this post, because I have seen arguments similar to it before.

Something that I hear not infrequently is that we as Christians shouldn’t be hasty to judge/evaluate others, because we don’t know what kind of life they have lived. We don’t know their hardships, their trials, the difficulties that they have endured. And principally this line of thought is applied to people who have engaged in sin, or are living lives of outright sin. An example of this would be “We don’t know why she decided to become promiscuous/a prostitute. She could have been neglected or abused growing up!” Or “Don’t be so harsh on him, he had a tough life. Its no wonder he became a criminal.” Of course, there are many, many other such examples.

What I am curious about is just how Christian this whole line of thought actually is. Many of my readers have a far better knowledge of Scripture than I, and the Catholic/Orthodox readers probably are better with Tradition as well. So I am asking for your assistance in this matter. Where in Scripture does it say that we should be understanding of what causes people to sin? I haven’t found anything yet which seems to support that notion, but of course I could be missing something.

The reason I’m asking about this is because I think that this desire to “understand” people is often used as a means of excusing sin.  Even if it isn’t used as an excuse, I think it is at best a distraction, as it is something that ultimately doesn’t matter to us as Christians. And frankly, I think it is used far more as an excuse than for some alternate purpose, like relating to someone better or helping them turn their life around.  Although in most cases I don’t think it is outright intended to excuse sin. Rather, it is those preach “Christian love, charity, and forgiveness” who seem to be the most likely to do it, because they want to be loving and understanding. But I think that while their intentions might be noble, they have lost sight of what they are actually doing.

But then again, I could be completely wrong here. So if anyone has anything to contribute, please do so.


Filed under Christianity, Sin

54 responses to “Questioning Understanding

  1. Elspeth

    because if they do, their women will lose attraction for them.

    That’s not what I meant, Deti. LOL. I was simply pointing out that someone has to keep their heads and act when situations arise. Spending too much time feeling undercuts the ability to act.

    This is true for women as well as men but as the one responsible for the well being of the family, a man is less likely to feel free to spend much time wondering how he feels. Things need to get done.

    I wasn’t thinking about attraction at all.

  2. Pingback: I’ll pray about it | Reflections on Christianity and the manosphere

  3. Pingback: Gunshy | Alpha Is Assumed

  4. More often than not, a call to “understand the sinner” is an attempt to move the frame from discussing an objective behavior in the real world to the sinner’s subjective culpability before God. Since God alone can see into hearts, “Understand the sinner” translates into “Shut up about their behavior.”

    Sometimes the kindest thing we can say to a drunk is “I know you’ve had a hard life but you’re a stinking drunk and your alcoholism will kill you.”

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