Wednesday, 12 February 2014


Where does compassion come into all of this?

I was struck today by some comments on twitter. I've put them down at the bottom of this post if you want to torture yourself with some very odd (at best, offensive at worst) comments.

What got me was the striking lack of compassion. After throwing a sarky comment at one of these little commentator warriors, pointing out his lack of compassion, I had the comment "not sure where compassion comes into it" bounced back at me. Which made me think... well, where does compassion come into it?!

How many people can say they know for sure that everything they do is either right or wrong? I don't see my lovelife as being sinful. Many people don't see women in leadership as sinful. Or swearing. Or white lies. Or getting divorced. Or having a massive wad of cash in the bank etc etc. The jury is out on many of these things and we are left to discern whether we think we are sinning or whether it is something we see no conviction for and feel no conviction for. No-one would repent for doing things that they don't believe are wrong things to do.

So we all live our merry lives, doing good things and bad things, repenting for the things we know we shouldn't do, being ignorantly blissful about many of our sins, doing things we sincerely believe are right (which in many cases are) and not doing good things because we perceive them as sinful.

Not one single person on this planet does it right all the time. If God was a judgemental God, with no compassion (as we all seem to spend half our lives trying to replicate) then we would all be screwed. It isn't as simple as 'repent and be un-screwed' because we don't even know half the things we are supposed to be repenting for and we get muddled. If God wants anyone to be saved, then He is going to have to have compassion on us and forgive us for the things we never knew to repent for.

The CofE confession liturgy says this:
"We have left undone those things that we ought to have done;
and we have done those things that we ought not to have done"

Now, does anyone look at their day, week, month etc and recognise every single thing they ought to have done? No, because we can't even recognise when we are sinning by omission. So we pray this blanket prayer- we ask for forgiveness in general for anything which wasn't pleasing to God. Similarly, we can't recognise every sin we have done. So we say a blanket prayer (as well as specifying anything we do know was wrong) and we ask for forgiveness for our wrongdoing- including things we believed to be right. We are all asking God to be compassionate and not to penalise us when we sincerely do want to do right by Him and we do sincerely recognise our need for forgiveness and ask for it. 

If a Christian doesn't believe that being in a same-sex relationship is sinful and you tell them they should be judged for this 'sin'... then surely you are saying you should be judged for all the things you do, or should have done, which are sinful but you think are OK or you didn't realise you should have or shouldn't have done. Yet you don't think this- you think that  you are covered because you've repented with a blanket prayer- asking that God will have mercy on you for the sins you didn't think you'd committed. Which is the same confession LGBT people say- and so if God's merciful judgement extends to you then it should extend to them... right? 

So that's where compassion comes into it. We need God to be compassionate in His judgement of us because we have no way of meeting his standard. And so we need to have compassion when judging others. It makes me think of a little baby who is yet to learn what is right and wrong. She does lovely things, like nuzzling her head into you for a cuddle and then she does that thing which really hurts you- she grabs your hair and she pulls on it (with some sort of superhuman strength only babies have when on a hair pulling adventure). How many times have my nieces pulled my hair, ripped my nose stud from my nose, scratched me with their little baby nails? What is our response- we don't punish them, we have compassion on them. We accept that they don't know any better, that they don't realise how much it hurts us. Then, as they grow older we start to teach them right from wrong. We teach them the general principles of morality- not hurting others and so on. We don't hold it against them forever that when they were babies they hurt us by pulling our hair. We let it go and spend our time worrying about the times they deliberately hurt us, once they knew right and wrong, rather than dwelling on their accidental wrongs. If we only punished, and never showed compassion, then we would be seriously lacking love in this world. And God does not lack love.

James 2:13 says "judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement". 

And Colossians 3:12 "Therefore, as God's chosen people... clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

So call me sinful if you like and tell me I am damned based on the small fragment of my life which is on display to you, but I think I'm alright because I trust God's compassion and He sees the whole picture and will therefore judge fairly. And as for you, I hope this small fragment of your life I'm seeing- you as a compassion lacking, judgement spewing Tweeter- doesn't represent the whole picture of your life. Because then we'd all just be as damned as each other.

From Twitter:

"welcoming, yes. Loving yes. Accepting sin as being ok and not doing anything to turn from it, no. "

"put that down to propaganda by the media, soaps, celebrities, BBC, repeal of clause 28, PC, Stonewall etc" (in response to why we are finally making progress on this issue)

"Tired of people trying to turn the Church into the Libdems or some other PC horror show."


  1. As one of the contributors to one of the tweets listed, " no need to listen or discuss, just read the word of God it's quite clear. The church hasn't got it wrong for 2000 years" I would like to thank you for your blog in which you have very clearly laid down your thoughts in a way that I could not with the very limited 120 characters of twitter.

    Please look at the context of my initial tweet. I was responding to comments that the next step for the church in regards sexuality is a listening and discussion process over the next 2 yrs, something that I feel is unnecessary as I believe the Word of God is clear on the subject. That is my point of view and I am just as entitled to it as you are to yours.

    Twitter is a great platform for debating, however it's format is very limiting. There is no way from what I wrote that you could possibly determine weather I have any compassion or not and as you say your comment was sarky.

    You say that some of the comments are odd and even offensive. First I would like to say that if you found my comments offensive then I scincerly apologise. I in no way want to or intend to offend anyone. I should be able to disagree with people without them jumping to conclusions regarding what type of person I am.

    I think you have raised some interesting points and would like to comment, hopefully without causing offence.

    You are right in a sense, based on our own feelings we cannot know for sure if what we do is right or wrong. Ultimately God is the judge of what is right or wrong and he has given us His Word to help us discern.

    We tend to categorise sin. Murder is worse than telling a lie. However to God both are sin and sin is missing the mark that God set. He gave us the law and said this is how to be righteous in my sight, but he knew we couldn't keep it so Jesus came and shed his blood to make us righteous in his sight.

    Now I know this is an extreme illustration but I'm sure we would both say murder is wrong. But what if the murderer felt it wasn't wrong, would that make it OK. No because ultimately God is the one who says its wrong.

    Me believing that same sex relationships are sinful and you believing they are not does not change anything. It's what God says that matters. I believe from his word that they are. You must determine for yourself.

    You are absolutely right no one does right all the time. We have all sinned, and we will all stand before God. A God of mercy and compassion yes, but also a God of judgement. We cannot ignore that, we will all be judged. However if we have put our trust in Christ we will not be judged for our sin. Jesus paid for it all.

    In passing comment and expressing my beliefs, I judge and condemn no one for I am just as much a sinner as the next person and I fully recognise that. I feel very much for those with same sex attraction. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have the feelings for someone that I have for my wife and to be told that it's wrong. However based on my interpretation of scripture that is what I think it is. I am not saying that it is worse than swearing, white lies or Divorce. I think they are all wrong.

    I don't think you are any more sinful than I am and I don't think you are damned if you have put your trust in Christ.

    God bless

    1. hmm not sure i'd say that murder is comparable. even without the bible's influence people know it is wrong because our intrinsic sense of morality tell us that things that bring so much hurt to others are bad. but my original point is that the jury is out on the topic of same sex relationships (whereas i think the jury is very much 'in' when it comes to murder) as with other 'sins' like swearing and white lies... so if we are wrong all along then hopefully God will have compassion.

      i suppose with murder and other similar sorts of sins, they stem from a selfish desire to put ourselves above others, get one up on others or hurt others and in sins like murder and rape etc there is no glory for God in those acts. I don't need to see what the bible says and then come to a conclusion about whether murder is right or wrong because the consequences alone are enough to tell me it is wrong. in my view, same sex relationships don't fit in the same box... my relationship is based on no more selfish desire than any other, and mine brings no more hurt than any heterosexual relationship has the potential to bring. And in my relationship there is opportunity to bring glory to God- because we live as a Christian couple and serve God in partnership with each other and with him.

      So we know murder is wrong based on more reasons than a few bible verses and so I don't think anyone can be excused on the basis of 'they thought what they were doing was right'. But to a lot of people (I hesitate to say most people, perhaps non religious) there is nothing wrong with loving same sex relationships because the idea of them being sinful and the handful of verses that attempt to suggest this are arbitrary. therefore if I interpret those verses differently and genuinely believe they aren't actually condemning then I hope that God would have compassion if I'm wrong.

      thanks for your response anyway, I removed your tweet because although I standby my feeling that it didn't show much compassion, i don't want you to feel I am saying that you have no compassion.


  2. I have only recently started to follow your blog as my dear friend only suggested it to me. I agree so much with your sentiments on compassion. I think that those of us that have found our selves in this really (difficult to handle) situation would do a little better if only we were given a little compassion. Do people even stop to imagine what sort of anguish we go through?! Being labeled as rebels against the teachings of the church? As going against Jesus, the cornerstone of out faith?! Do people understand what it feels like to grow up with the dream of the ''perfect'' relationship inbred in us by society and family only to wake up one day and find out that things have changed? I offer no explanations except that I fell in love. It may not be what is ''normal'' but surely after all is said and done shouldn't it matter that I love her?! Because of who she is. Because she brings out the very best in me. It is not a disability. It doesn't make me function any worse in school or the work place. Even as we open it up to debate and discussions, people should please show a little kindness, a little compassion. And I believe that Jesus is merciful and compassionate in ALL things. You know no better until you try and walk in somebody else's shoes.