Netflix and the Art of Empathy
Context: I’ve been watching a whole lot of Sister Wives this week. This provides a perfect follow-up to the interview I linked to the other day because it involves another of those sin-categories that Christians like to rank high on the Ex-Nay scale.
Something I hear occasionally in Christian circles, usually in reference to the various deviant sexual lifestyles out there, is how “this just sickens me.” On one hand, we hope that as we get to know God better, we get more sensitive to what hurts him. But I’d love to hear more people say “this just sickens me” about the sin in their own lives to which they’re suddenly more attuned (you know, hypocrisy, greed, jealousy, gossip, pride, white lies, gluttony—all things that hurt God, too).
It’s easy to have radar for the logs in the eyes of others. At the same time, it’s easy to rationalize our own specks. (Well, of course I struggle with xxxx, but it’s understandable, right? Now look what HE’S doing—inexcusable!) Before we get too busy categorizing and rating what all amounts to the same spiritual bankruptcy, let’s ask a question.
How can a Christian reach out to, pray for, or love a person about whom their primary feeling is revulsion? I believe that the Bible calls polygamy and many other creative family arrangements sinful. But if we’re to be Jesusy in this world, we should want to know what moves people, hurts them, makes them smile. We should see in them a reflection of our own needs and ultimate desires for acceptance, love, and stability, as well as our own brokenness. We should feel a little bit sickened—by our own shortages of grace—and only then be ready to love and reach them effectively.