Accepting the Unacceptable: What to Do?
Most recent post by the industrious blogger Virginia Lieto. She writes:
We must understand and accept another person’s reality, to practice the virtue of acceptance. No one is asking you to condone sinful behavior. However, we must remember to love our neighbor as Christ loves each of us. As Saint Augustine originally coined in Letter 211 of his writings, we are to have “love for mankind and hatred of sins.” To do so is acting in a Christ-like manner.
This does not, she notes clearly, entail condoning sinful behavior. That, Lieto recognizes, is a malady afflicting modern life. And yet Lieto points to the intuitively Christian answer: mercy. Instead of doubling down on condemnation of sin, we should reach out to the other, precisely in her/his unacceptable state, in love. Accomplished by and through grace, this outreach overcomes both the other's stubborn sinfulness as well as our own self-righteousness (a sin in itself!) Lieto:
We must refrain from allowing Satan the upper hand with our words, thoughts and deeds. Racial slurs, religious persecution, gender bias, derogatory sexual orientation comments, and nationality/cultural prejudices are all the work of Satan. Christ wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves. That means accepting our neighbor’s reality, as we would accept our own.
Lieto concludes by noting that acceptance applies both to oneself as well as the other AND accepting what God gives. Such a complex yet clear view appears oddly countercultural in these days "don't judge me." True, acceptance precludes judging but not wholesale capitulation. In these days Lieto's merciful view is quite revolutionary. It's also what Pope Francis asks us all to do!