Reserving Judgment

I must admit something - I am normally not the first person to jump at a particular movement or buy into an argument. Rather, I usually try to gather my thoughts, attempt to determine the evidences on each side of a case, and then decide on the matter. Actually, many "issues" arise which after spending time learning about them, I realize having a hard opinion on them doesn't matter!

Sometimes reserving judgment means I want or need to hear from different viewpoints before coming to a conclusion. Other times, when people are passionate on both sides of a debate, I find it often best to understand both sides and live in the tension that exists between these poles.

I believe such an approach has led me toward a concept of ethics that is very situational. In other words, what someone is to do in a given circumstance is very much dependent on the particular set of circumstances they are in. What might be "right" for one person would be "wrong" for another. I don't think this results in relativism, but rather a reservation of judgment on other people until one can understand the situation. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in Ethics, wrote that for the Christian ethics is not and should not be a matter of determining whether one's actions are right or wrong. Rather, one is to remain responsible to God, and to others, in the situation. This can be restated as "Hear the Word of God and do it." It doesn't mean we hear the Word of God, then develop the rule that works through all the possibilities and scenarios which might come out of it and then determine what is right or wrong in all similar situations at all times. Rather, for this particular action into which God speaks, be faithful to it.

This is a topic I will likely post more about later, as it really has a lot of importance in the way we approach many subjects. If you are really interested in this topic, read up a bit on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, or Soren Kierkegaard (particularly Fear and Trembling). I think most of our arguments come out of our trying to discern others actions as right or wrong based on our own determinations of what we view as good or evil. 

I'm going to keep this argument particularly wide-ranging and not dial in on particular issues. I would love to hear what these thought stimulate, because honestly I know it isn't the way most of us think about issues or actions.

Here is a good conversation that kind of mentions the realm of what I'm talking about - My friend Andrew recently posted this on his blog. You can find in the comments a post by me mentioning how I think we can re-frame the way we approach the this topic or right and wrong. I'd love to hear thoughts and start a discussion going.