Mourning with those who mourn is an important Gospel principle, but like any Gospel principle, it can be distorted and used to serve incorrect (should I say “problematic” instead?) ends.
Over at the Junior Ganymede, Adam G. has a post about how a lot of reactions to recent events in the church amount to not much more than emotional blackmail from toddlers.
I immediately thought of this passage from The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis:
(for those who don’t know, in The Great Divorce people from hell take a trip to heaven, and learn they can stay, if they are willing to adapt to heaven. Many voluntarily go back to hell. This passage is a dialogue with an Angel)
“Two men went up onto the Bloggernacle to post, one a Progressive and the other a person with conservative views. The Progressive stood and was posting thus:: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other Mormons: sexist, homophobic, racist, or even like this person with conservative views. and don’t you dare say I’m not a good Mormon, since I fast (sometimes) and I pay tithes of all that I get (based on my idiosyncratic definition of tithing).’ But the person with conservative views just posted silly rewrites of NT parables and then moved on with life.
“There is,” said Father Brown dryly; “and that is the real difference between human charity and Christian charity. You must forgive me if I was not altogether crushed by your contempt for my uncharitableness today; or by the lectures you read me about pardon for every sinner. For it seems to me that you only pardon the sins that you don’t really think sinful. You only forgive criminals when they commit what you don’t regard as crimes, but rather as conventions. So you tolerate a conventional duel, just as you tolerate a conventional divorce. You forgive because there isn’t anything to be forgiven . . . Go on your own primrose path pardoning all your favorite vices and being generous to your fashionable crimes; and leave us in the darkness, vampires of the night, to console those who really need consolation”
–THE CHIEF MOURNER OF MARNE, G.K. Chesterton
Jeff G. has posted a response of sorts to a certain strain of argument that seems to carry the day among a certain class of Mormons.
I’m not going to repeat his arguments. Instead, I have a different take, because I think people can be fooled by these arguments, since they seem so warm, fuzzy, and compassionate. However, these arguments are actually quite pernicious, and their ultimate end point is to undermine the gospel.
To illustrate, I’m going to just reword part of one argument:
In The Art of War, Sun Tzu offers some very relevant advice on retreating.
Paraphrased, he states that when attacking an enemy, you should leave them a way to retreat. This has two advantages – if planned right, you can set up an ambush on the retreat path. However, if you can’t do that, it’s best to allow them some means of escape, lest the enemy, knowing they must either fight or die, rise to heroic actions and do serious damage.
Similarly, if your army is hemmed in with no mean of retreat, let your soldiers know this, so that they might rise to heroic actions and perhaps even pull off a win.
It seems to me these principles have relevance to several current battles in the “culture wars.”