There is a psychological war going on today that is at odds with the principles Jesus taught. In Matthew 23:4-7, Jesus described religious leaders who would put emotional, moral burdens on people and do nothing to help them: “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be carried and lay them on men’s shoulders: but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers, but all of their works they do to be seen of men…” In the same way, many people mishandle the major moral issues of our day by pressing others to correct their behavior. We call it emotional mind games.
Galatians 6:1-2 describes how Christians should act: “If a man is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual should restore such a one in the spirit of meekness considering yourself lest you should also be tempted. Bear you one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Years ago, I knew a religious leader whose son had engaged in a sexual act that resulted in a pregnancy. The religious leader had been a prominent opponent of abortion, but when he learned of the pregnancy, he encouraged the young woman to have an abortion, and he paid for it. This kind of hypocrisy reflects the lack of empathy in our culture today. I would blame it on our society’s drift away from God and from what Jesus taught.
There is a cemetery in Rome known as the Flaminio Cemetery. A religious group in Rome secretly obtains the remains of fetuses from abortion clinics and hospitals. They bury these aborted babies in a place they call the Flaminio Cemetery. At each grave, they place a cross with the name of the mother who terminated her pregnancy. The idea is to use emotional mind games to shame the women who gave up their children.
While we oppose abortion, we also know from experience how difficult the decision can be. We regularly receive letters from women who are struggling with guilt feelings years after having had an abortion. When Jesus dealt with the woman taken in adultery, he did not condone what she had done.,However, He said to the religious people who were ready to punish her, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her” (John 8:3-12).
We tend to rate sin. The wrong I do is a minor offense, but your sin is a major one. We must stop the emotional mind games and follow the example of Jesus. He told the woman, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” We will accomplish much more with empathy and compassion, working to provide alternatives to destructive behaviors instead of trying to shame people into rejecting sinful choices.
— John N. Clayton © 2020
Reference: The Week, October 30, 2020, page 15.