Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Virtue or preference?

Okay this is a really random subject to blog on but I have no other ideas and I haven't blogged in awhile. It seems like there are lots of things we Christians ascribe virtue to that I wonder, are they REALLY virtuous in and of themselves? Or do we make a personal preference virtuous (and project it on others) to make ourselves feel good?

(I told you it was random!)

10 comments:

Jeannett Gibson said...

I think it's a combination of both...there are things that probably are virtuous, but because WE happen to be good at them or prefer them, then we extend the action's virtue onto ourselves. Take honesty for example. Telling the truth is a virtue, but just because we don't lie, doesn't make US virtuous. To think for half a second that we are now virtuous simply for doing something that we like or may come naturally seems to me to completely undo any good, you know? In fact, it's probably more virtuous to do something that we AREN"T very good at or that we don't like. Cleaning toilets in general may not be virtuous, but getting out of your comfort zone and cleaning toilets at a homeless shelter probably is...and I bet the more you hate doing it, the better it is for you. I don't know if that made any sense, but hey, no one else was commenting! :)

Lara said...

The first example I thought of was being clean too. I'm not a very good house keeper. Sometimes I leave an entire days worth of dishes for the next day. I feel guilty about this. I feel like a bad wife, a bad woman in general.
While it's probably wise to keep my house clean, it isn't a sin to have un-mopped floors or cluttered closets. Even though we say "Cleanliness is next to Godliness", Jesus didn't say that. In fact, if I'm correct the only time housekeeping was mentioned in the Bible Jesus was correcting Martha that she should be hanging out with Him, not sweeping the floors.
So anyway, I should and want to try harder to keep my house clean, but other women should not judge me for my dusty mantle, nor teach at church that a clean house pleases God, because neither is right. Cleanliness is not a virtue, just a cultural preference. If cleanliness is a virture what are the poor women in Sri Lanka who have dirt floors supposed to do? That's my thought.

Lara said...

I thought of another one. Intelligence. I think Intelligent people find intelligence to be a virtue. The intelligent can get closer to the understanding of truth, right? In reality, I think Jesus has a soft spot in his heart for the simple. The intelligent can have a hard time taking on the humility that God requires of his followers.

Allison Brown said...

To add to Lara's comment about intelligence...I definitely agree that the intelligent can sometimes have a hard time being humble (but of course, not every intelligent person is that way!), it's almost like their intelligence blocks them from true understanding of God. (Think the Pharisees.) I've been reading a book by John MacArthur called Hard to Believe, and he makes several good points about this. He talks about how Jesus's own people (and neighbors he grew up with) would not believe he was the messiah because he wouldn't show them specific miracles. He didn't 'prove' to them that he was who they had been waiting for. Anyway, kind of getting off on a tangent here, but that's what I thought of when I read Lara's comment, so just wanted to add my two cents. I guess it doesn't totally relate to your question Brianna, but oh well. Sorry.

cathy said...

I think we can fall into the trap of turning our passions into virtures, when really our passions come from God and they should reflect Him...not us. Virtues from God should be equal across the board, and my passions are not more important than yours. For example, lots of Christians have a passion for the pro-life movement. They've turned it into a virtue that you HAVE to be passionate about anti-abortion laws in order to love God. But what about other aspects of pro-life...like adoption and AIDS medicine for the poor. Those are just as pro-life, but are less talked about. I feel more "passoinat" about those issues and I can fall into the false thinking that they are more "virtuous" than anti-abortion laws. I think we all take what we are passionate about and hold a tight grip on it. Gooness, I just wrote a lot and am not sure if I made sense. Great question, though.

bordermama said...

My comment is rather random, especially b/c it is not related to *this* post specifically, but...I really like your detailed chronicle of the way your family has grown. We know that we want to adopt but kind of feel like we don't exactly know where to begin. Do we start with a country? Should we base the country on need? Etc, etc.!! My sister-in-law says we are thinking way too much about it...just start. Also, as I was reading, I had to laugh...two of my four children have names very close to yours...Anna Elisabeth and Kathryn Jane! How funny. Now if you have another girl and name her Leah, that will be really weird!

Jenn said...

Ooo I love this topic! Hubby and I grew up in conservative Mennonite homes. This topic was often debated. Is it virtuous or a conviction or is it just a preference? So much of the spiritual must do's were preferences projected by men upon people guilted to develop them as conviction.

If it is truly a conviction/virtue are you willing to die for it? To me a conviction is just a preference unless one is willing to sacrifice much to uphold it.

erika said...

I think God is the only one who can decide where "virtue" is displayed. When we try to decide, especially in other's lives what they should do, we are making our judgments with very limited information. For instance, is the person not doing what I deem to be virtuous because of other limiting factors that are not known to me such as, health factors, money issues, time contraints, their spouse's desires, disabilities, hidden struggles or insecurities... on and on. Then you factor in our different backgrounds, and parents, extended families, personalities, spiritual gifts, religious and spiritual training, life experiences and tragedies, talents, educational training... why do I think I should be able to decide what others should be doing as long as it does not specifically contradict scripture? Good reminder to stop playing God :)

Lara said...

Well said, Erika!

Brianna Heldt said...

You guys all had good thoughts!!! I agree, it is so easy to make something that comes easy to us, or seems like the right thing to us, a virtue, and then expect everyone else to live up to it, or define spirituality by that standard.

 

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