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The Third Way

By: Paul Murano – July, 2016

The more I live the more I come to realize how difficult it is for most people to distinguish between actions and the people who perform them – to judge behaviors but not persons.It is very common to hate those who do evil and love those who do good. When Christ proclaimed the radical teaching to love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you, it must have shocked the masses. It still does.

This fundamental problem of identifying sin with sinner has again appeared in the media recently. In the Orlando massacre, the media ignored that the gunman was Muslim, who shouted the customary terrorist phrase before shooting, and praised ISIS as his inspiration. Instead, they blamed Christians. Why? Various Islamic communities condone killing homosexuals while Christianity simply teaches homosexual acts are unnatural and immoral. It demonstrates once again the progressive Left fears truth more than death.

To be fair, the truth is not always expressed or even accompanied with love by those who know homosexual behavior to be a crime against nature. In the same problematic manner, however, the Left attempts to love without truth. Like heads and tails, truth and love are flip sides of the same coin which form each other. Therefore the problem arises: By clumping together haters of persons with lovers of truth, unable to distinguish between attacking ideas and persons, homosexuals perceive Christians as attacking them rather than the behaviors they espouse.

Let us go beneath the surface to examine this phenomenon more closely. The norm of hating the sin and the sinner is found in cultures that possess the first step in moral development. The moral law in the Torah heightened awareness of moral evil in the world’s monotheistic religions. Coupled with a keen sense of human solidarity, Jews and Muslims, each in their own time, concluded that capital punishment was the way to save the community from the “pollution” of grave sin. Some Muslims still perform “honor killings.” The idea is that if cancer pollutes the body you kill it; and if moral depravity pollutes the community you stamp it out. Those who practice homosexual behavior, adultery, fornication, incest, thievery, idolatry, and the like, were henceforth put to death under both Mosaic and Sharia law, for the perceived sake of the community.

The opposite extreme is found today in America, specifically the cultural Left. Radical individualism and pop psychology paved the way for the new norm of accepting the person and his sin. This means denying the existence of sin to avoid confronting unpleasant truths. It avoids “honor killings,” but creates a culture of death that steadily rots from within.

We see, therefore, the two extremes mankind has employed to deal with moral evil: a) hating the sinner and the sin, with violence toward those who do evil; and b) loving the sinner and the sin, with violence toward the reputation, livelihood, and freedom of those who witness against evil.

Is there a third Way?

The late Judge Scalia once stated: “I attack ideas, I don’t attack people, and some very good people have some very bad ideas.” Is it possible to attack ideas without being hated by those who espouse them? Or are we doomed to either the pre-Christian practice of killing the sinner to kill the sin or the post-Christian practice of accepting the sin to accept the sinner? Is it possible to love the sinner and hate the sin??

The answer is a theological one. It begins with meditating on the cross. The perfectly innocent God-man bore every sin of humanity on the cross – past, present, and future – and when He died so did the sin of the repentant homosexual, adulterer and fornicator, murderer and thief, slanderer and idolater. Sin is not denied; rather, there on the cross, the depths of its evil are illustrated.

The pre-moderns were right, death is necessary to kill sin; but Christ took care of that for us vicariously. The primary remaining obstacle to healing and wholeness that leads to peace is denial. This is why today’s post-Christian norm of denial is even more dangerous than the pre-Christian norm of violence. Denial of reality, which is the psychological foundation of ‘progressive’ ideology, closes oneself completely to the third way.

What is the third way? What is the alternative to man’s disordered instinct to do violence to either life or truth? It is to love the sinner and hate the sin, attack ideas but not people, love your enemy and do good to those who persecute you, and judge behaviors but not persons. As history indicates, this alternative, rarely employed, which distinguishes the person from the evil, made possible only by Christ and through the power of His Spirit, is the only way to peace.

Paul Murano

Paul Murano

Paul Murano teaches philosophy at Rivier University and North Shore Community College and is host of Beneath the Surface radio show on WCAP, Mondays 10-11pm. Podcasts available at www.facebook.com/fellowtruthseekers. Paul teaches adult enrichment at St. Patrick's in Nashua, is founder of Heartbeat Pregnancy Help center in Burlington, and is a singer-songwriter-musician. E-mail Paul at PJDM@aol.com

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