Recently I have been in many conversations with people who would like to live a re-invented Christianity - one where God is an object, and where they take the virtues they like along with a freedom to use as they will. In doing this such people are no better than the New Atheists who also profess the virtues while keeping firm hold on their private vice.
There is no right way to do something wrong,
but there are many wrong ways to do something right.
Many are "doing" Christianity wrong.
This is what the modern world seeks to do; to take a virtue (e.g. love, imagination, pity) and hold onto this through the wrong means (e.g. many transient relationships, experimentation with drugs, or charitable conscience-massaging good works).
As Chesterton wrote about our post-modern secularized world where vice roams freely: "... the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone."
As a Christian I'm beginning to look at people's lives in a different light; it's not simply a matter of how do we separate vice from virtue, it's really about how to connect the virtue back to it's source - Jesus. The virtue is not the goal (but we make it so); the virtue is only the outworking of the goal - disconnected from its source the virtue will ultimately go bad, like a rotten and decayed fruit it becomes a vice.
Whenever we take hold of a new thing we have to let go of another. So as we help people connect their virtues to Jesus the connections to vice will break; no condemnation is needed, no judgement is required, only the compassion of Jesus.
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