Friday, 21 September 2018

Would an ideal parent do IT to a loved member of his family?

This question may be a better, more valid and comprehensible, way of analysing moral difficulties and dilemmas than the more usual method of establishing and assuming some general principles or rules, and trying to reason logically from then to the specific situation - in light of other established and assumed principles... which method rarely seems to work in practice, and rarely seems to convince impartially, except in simple and extreme cases.

Is capital punishment (execution) acceptable - if so, by what method? Is torture acceptable - and if not, then what level of coercion counts as torture? Is it acceptable to charge interest on a loan - and if so how much and under what situation?

Such matters can perhaps be clarified by assuming that you are dealing with a loved member of your family. This is the most relevant consideration because it is the exact situation of God in dealing with Men - we are all, and without exception, loved children of God.

If we can imagine ourselves as an ideal parent, dealing with problems among our children - perhaps we can see what is acceptable, appropriate - and the reverse.

In doing so we need to bear in mind that dealing in a loving fashion with one's children does Not etail letting them do what they want at this moment - especially Not doing what they want To Each Other.

being an ideal loving parent Does entail being tough at times, using coercion at times - it Does entail making the best of an often very difficult situation in which time, resources and effort are all finite. It Does entail often feeling great sorrow for what must be done, what ought to be done.




Tackled in a fashion that combines realism with practicality; I think this parental approach to life answers many, perhaps most, of the moral dilemmas and cruxes I have come across.


9 comments:

Chiu ChunLing said...

I think that it is helpful in distinguishing doctrine, since we can easily see that such ideas as the annihilation of the soul are nonsense when we consider God as an ideal Father.

But for figuring out our responsibilities as humans, the notion of an idea parent requires that we first establish a workable conception of God as that ideal. Execution is not soul annihilation...but the difference is not readily apparent until we have a fairly specific idea of the afterlife.

God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son...but did not require him to execute the son who posed a threat to Isaac. I think that is telling, and I deeply feel that it is right, to execute a wayward child is a much harder task than to sacrifice a beloved one.

Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori. The sorrow of sacrifice is that of being left behind, qualitatively the same (though in far greater degree) than the sorrow of giving away one's children to marriage or even seeing them off to school. It is nothing like the sorrow of judging a child unfit to live.

If we look at things from the perspective of God as an ideal parent, with a reasonably coherent and not entirely incorrect idea of God, then we can understand such things as being required to release one of our siblings from our own authority and dominion to be judged by God. But if we make the mistake of trying to cast ourselves as the ideal parents...it is not mere hubris, the premise is simply utter nonsense. We are not ideal parents...particularly of each other.

Bradley Matthews said...

We are all his creation, we are not all his children. He will destroy his enemies for the harm they cause his family. I do not see any dilemma with that.

"He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."

Bruce Charlton said...

@Bradley I believe in the validity of th the Mormon restoration which has clarified and extended some of these issues. So that is one source,confirmed, by my personal revelation, that tells us we are all God's children.

The meaning of the passage you cite is not clear when studied in isolation, and your translation wrongly literalises it.

But from the KJV Fourth gospel as a whole, we can infer that all Men and Jesus too are children of God.

Chiu ChunLing said...

It is also necessary to understand that the Destroyer, not the Deceiver, but another being (entity is incorrect, the destroyer certainly is, but is not a discretely identifiable existence), was not created, or rather is something that is in itself the antithesis of creation.

And yet necessary to it, for there to be creation, there must be destruction, for there to be a creator, there must be a destroyer.

God is not the Creator and Destroyer both, as doctrinaire theology has attempted to suppose. What is true is only that the Destroyer does not have positive existence of the same sort as God, it is not an alternative to God.

Those who willfully exile themselves from God will in some degree or another fall into destruction, simply because to not be destroyed means remaining as part of God's Creation. God has not desired that they should be destroyed, only that they should be free to choose for themselves whether to be with Him.

Wade McKenzie said...

I find it remarkable that the question Prof. Charlton poses in the heading to the original post--"Would an ideal parent do IT to a loved member of his family?"--seems to overlook the central and most obvious phenomenon of the New Testament: namely, that the Father offered up his own dear Son to be crucified--to be tortured to death--that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

"This is the most relevant consideration because it is the exact situation of God in dealing with Men - we are all, and without exception, loved children of God."

One might suppose that the New Testament supports the notion that we men are children of wrath rather than "without exception, loved children of God". I'm not actually arguing that the former perspective is the correct one, but it will take more than someone's mere pronouncement to vindicate the truth of the latter.

"The meaning of the passage you cite is not clear when studied in isolation, and your translation wrongly literalises it."

If Mr. Matthews' citation of John 1:11-13 lacks interpretive authority in this discussion, how much less does the unargued assertion that "we are all, and without exception, loved children of God" possess any interpretive authority for the sake of this debate.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wade " the central and most obvious phenomenon of the New Testament: namely, that the Father offered up his own dear Son to be crucified--to be tortured to death--that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Actually, that isn't at all obvious! Indeed, in terms of motivation and the intention and effect of Jesus's incarnation, death and resurrection, I don't think it is true. Causally, I see no necessity for Christ to have been tortured. He had to die, but there was no causal need for this death to be by torture - we would have been offered life everlasting no matter how Jesus died.

In sum, I regard your quoted interpretation as an error based on an inversion of the true purpose and causality - my evidence is primarily the Fourth Gospel. (If you word search Fourth Gospel on this blog, you can find it.)

Chiu ChunLing said...

Or rather, what is 'obvious' about the implications of this central feature of Christianity is going to vary radically depending on the point of view of the individual interpreter.

God does indeed ask His Son to voluntarily sacrifice mortal life for the sake of the immortal and sacred lives of others, but there is going to be a qualitative difference in God's perspective on the comparative value of what is being sacrificed and what gained and our own discernment, as none of us has yet directly experienced the kind of life Christ obtained for us.

It is an error to believe that death is ever really 'painless'. A good death does not consist of the reduction in physical suffering, which is finally ultimate (I know that sounds redundant) in any case, the pain of dying remains the pains of death (hopefully that clarifies the point of the redundancy). A good death is found in the meaning of living and dying for something rather than nothing.

To bear a total consciousness of the purpose of His own death, Christ had to consciously experience the suffering that is often hidden from witnesses to 'painless' death by lack of responsiveness. But the testimony of those who witnessed His death is also valuable as a marker and guide to our own understanding.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - My understanding is that Jesus needed to become mortal and incarnate, and to die, and be resurrected, in order to become fully divine like his Father.

So I regard the traditional idea of Christ's death as wholly-sacrificial, wholly for the benefit of Men; as being one-sided, incomplete, an error.


Chiu ChunLing said...

Hmmm...mortality as we understand it is not required for divinity.

I'm not sure what you mean by "wholly-sacrificial". It was for the benefit of God because human salvation is His aim, and not all men desire it.