In the Q&O I hosted the other day, someone asked a question that I almost shrugged off as too simplistic. They asked if I thought it was wrong to take something that isn’t yours.
I typically avoid these kinds of questions. It makes me feel morally pious and pious, I am not. But I felt drawn to the question, so I stayed with it.
The first thing that came to mind was that it was conditional. If you’re stealing out of harm, then it’s wrong. But if you’re stealing to feed your family, it’s okay.
But what I’m learning is that, when it comes to the radical grace of this faith, the answer is never so simple. It’s never yes/no, true/false, right/wrong.
Asking whether it’s wrong or right has to do with law. And law is a human construct. Necessary, maybe, but limited.
I’m glad there are people who can legally put people in jail for trying to harm me, my family, and neighbors. I’m all for it. But the thing is…
Humans don’t tend to transform when you take a hammer to their heads.
Yes, it helps the victim or would-be victims. But as for the ‘offender’, it typically takes a lot of hammer blows to cause even the smallest change (if any) and then, the only hope is that they see the one thing that will change them at the heart-level.
This is grace. The universal grace that comes from life itself (some of us call it the love of God). It’s the cosmic download that speaks to us in language deeper than words that we loved in such a palpable way that no moral transgression can affect.
What I’m interested in is what happens after said moral violation. How do we respond to life after we’ve done something ‘wrong’ (yes, we’re all ‘guilty’ of these things to some degree)? What then?
If we’re closed off to grace, odds are, we’ll keep running into the human rule of law and the hammer blows will continue. Maybe not even in a legal sense; it could be the law of being ostracized by family and friends, etc.
But eventually, hopefully, something opens us up to this indwelling grace beneath all of our human self-judgments.
That’s when the transformation happens. Because theft or murder or harm or [enter any moral transgression here] doesn’t happen in an interior place of feeling eternally loved. The fruits of that tree are much different.