If you’ve had any religious instruction, it probably involved an introduction to "the rules." These rules certainly included the Ten Commandments, plus an assortment of other codes of behavior: Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, Precepts of the Church, and the Beatitudes. Lists of seven Capital (Deadly) Sins or nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit help to hone our aim.
Every child benefits from knowing these lists, and plenty of adult Bible study sessions are invigorated by their reappraisal. But in the end, throwing the rules at each circumstance we encounter is no way to live a life. Despite our keenest wish to make it so, it’s impossible to anticipate tomorrow’s questions with today’s answers. Not knowing the question makes it silly to reply confidently that the answer is “Tuesday.”
Yet people of faith are timid about embracing so-called situation ethics: the idea that context is a consideration. Christian values don’t change, but they do reprioritize. Sometimes justice becomes more important than peace, or compassion more appropriate than judgment. If they know we’re Christians by our love, let’s admit that love covers a lot of territory. We love our children when we discipline them as much as when we tickle them. No rulebook can tell us which to apply, but loving relationship does.
Love is social, not solitary, which means an application of rules must be responsive to the flexibility that relationships involve. Our values, more than our rules, will lead the way.
reprinted with permission from TrueQuest Communications