I found a conversation I wrote in a story of mine yesterday that I thought would make a good blog post. It takes place between a main character and a bit of an antagonist character. It was a debate about how to solve a certain problem that had come up. The main character finally gets worked up enough to utter an impassioned speech (I edited this to make it more clear.):
“Yes, love. I’ve found that nothing else matters. Love makes it worth it to go through the other stuff…and that’s why I have to believe in Goodness too. Good things are done out of love, and they make love grow. Freedom allows love. Evil just wants to kill it. Or twist it.”
“People can do just fine without all that sappy stuff, and what does it help? You think love will fix this mess?”
“Yes! and if it can’t, what can? Work? Work for what? Rules? What good are rule when they have no reason to exist save for control. Why do we get up every morning if not for love of something? And I don’t mean sappy stuff. I mean the real, true, loyal, kind sort of love. That’s what motivates me. Because I’ve been given it. And I stand by God because He gives it. I see no other way and no other Hope but to hope in Him. And that’s my say.”
This was a fan fiction piece, and the world it’s based off is one where Good and Evil are arbitrary things, all depending on your background only, not your personality. Which is an idea present in the real world, but this world takes it to the degree of craziness.
That’s why the character is railing against rules. I’ve been reading about Thomas Jefferson, and one thing that sticks out about his politics is how he was concerned for the common good. It’s actually in the Preamble to the constitution that it is meant to “promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity (descendants.)” The Constitution is a classic example of men trying to make rules that would benefit everyone. those rules are made out of love for their countrymen. These rules are fine.
But rules can also be made out of fear and frustration. As I’m sure you know from your own experience. Sometimes rules are just made out of stupidity. People believe something is right, but they haven’t thought it through, and they use their power to enforce the idea.
Of course that speech isn’t really about rules. It could easily be made in favor of them, if rules were on the side of love. That’s really the greater point.
you see, it puzzles people that two opposite actions can both be the right thing to do in different circumstances. I think that’s where the idea that right and wrong are arbitrary comes in for a lot of us. And it’s true if you ever day any one action is evil, someone will find a case proving otherwise.
I didn’t always understand how you can tell what the right thing to do is if this is the case. how can you ever be sure?
the answer was given to me, as it often is, through a book. “The hiding Place.” Which I’ve mentioned before on this blog. In that book Corrie and her family have an argument about whether it was right to lie about what they were doing in order to keep people safe and alive. Corrie’s sister, Nollie, argues that truth is always the best choice. That the bible makes it clear never to lie. Corrie argues that to preserve their radio she had to lie. (and later she lies while under interrogation.)The thing is, while the radio may be a small thing, no one would deny that lying to save lives was the right thing to do. In fact, it would be weak not to.
But the strange thing is that the end result of Nollie telling the truth and Corrie hiding it was the same. Both times the person or people they had wanted to help were safe in the end. And the answer seems to be provided in this one line that their father said to calm Corrie down. “I am sure, whatever you said Corrie, was out of love.”
Huh? What does that even mean?
Well, the Bible says that to a Christian all things are permissible but not all things are helpful. It says not to use grace as a license for sin. It also says whatever is not of faith is sin. What does all this have to do with my point? I’ll tell you.
God never says lying is good. In fact, He forbids it. But even in the Bible there are examples of people lying and not being condemned for it. but it was always to protect the lives of an innocent person, or to get justice in some other way, when total honesty would not serve. God still never says it is good, but we have no record of Him punishing the person for it. Often lying still has its own consequences, and so do other sins that might be committed in the same instance. It seems to matter more why someone does something, and not what it is they do.
This is not always the case. But Corrie and Nollie both did what they did out of their respective beliefs that is was the ight thing, or more right, than the alternative. Sometimes the Right thing can be a personal choice. But only if it’s in line with the Truth.
I mean that it is in Love. I can get a little too obsessed with having “All justice” as Portia put it. (The Merchant of Venice.) But just like for Shylock, in real life having all justice means having more than you desired. If you live by Love on the other hand, you will get as much justice as you need, but you will also render mercy.
Justice is important to me, but Mercy is even more important. I’ll go more into this in the next part, but I’m stopping this here.