Saturday, January 15, 2011

Open for Discussion: To Help or Not to Help...

I would love to have some "reader participation" on this one. For those who don't already know, I have several extended family members who have difficult lives, and in turn make life somewhat difficult for me. They don't purposely make things difficult for me, but one thing I've learned in life is that sins have far-reaching effects, and so oftentimes I get a bit caught up in the tangled webs that my relatives weave.

Earlier today, I heard something on a Christian broadcast that I've tweaked into a motto that I think will be helpful to me in decision making in regards to relating to/helping people in our extended family. Or for that matter, people in general... but specifically I’m thinking of our relatives.
As Christians, we should help others.
But we should NOT help others to live sinfully.
My questions for you, my blog readers, are these...

1.  Can you think of a better way to word this?
2.  How would you define "helping others to live sinfully"?
3.  Is there such a thing as "the lesser of two evils"?

Some things are clear to me. If a relative wanted me to sin for them, I would refuse. But some things are not as clear. Here's an example:

Let's say that a relative is applying for disability, and is lying on his/her application. If he/she put me down as a person who could answer questions about his/her disability, I would not lie for that person. That much is clear to me. But what about driving that person to a disability interview? Or what about something as small as making photocopies or mailing the paperwork in for that person? 

How far should we take the quest to not participate in other people's sins, and to not assist them to remain in their sins? How far is too far? Where is the fine line between being committed to not helping someone to remain in their sins and appearing to be a stark raving fanatic? This may be a ridiculous example, but how about an unmarried family member who is living with a boyfriend/girlfriend? Technically, even driving that person back to their home would be assisting them in their sin.

I guess a lot of this would call for independent judgment calls. To me it seems pretty obvious that helping someone move in with a boyfriend/girlfriend would be helping them to live sinfully (and would give the appearance of approval). But what about visiting that family member? Eating dinner at their house?

If I think about these things too hard, I fear my brain will explode. And so I have chosen you, dear blog readers, to do my thinking for me.  :) PLEASE comment with any thoughts you might have on this subject... or if you'd prefer, drop me an email!


Bridget said...

Having walked a difficult road for the past 4 years, I somewhat understand the difficult issues that arise.
First, we have to remember, that most often we are dealing with unsaved family. We can not have the same expectation from the unsaved as we do the saved. But, that said.... we have to be very careful to uphold the values based on God's word that we have come to believe in.
Do we lie for someone.... no (but that was an easy one). Helping someone in a situation you know they are lying... no. I would not even copy papers etc and would explain that if they continue to be deceptive/lying in their answers, you can not support it in any way.
I don't believe that eating at someones home or driving someone home etc is condoning someones sin. They (assuming) are unsaved. They do not have the same convictions we do.
Loving our grandchildren and taking them every other weekend... does that mean we are helping their parents "to live sinfully"? Some would say yes, but I believe this is where God has taken a sinful situation and given us a mission field.
This is a hard issue when it comes to family but if this family member is having an influence over us, our kids etc then I believe that might call for some discussion first and possibly a separation from them.
Sometimes I think we can be too close to a situation to see the detriment in being involved in it. Pray and pray some more and seek godly counsel.
Probably not much help here but hypothetical issues are always hard to be specific about. :-)

Vikki said...

Thank you for your comment, Bridget!! You didn't ask for my opinion, but I don't believe that by taking your grandkids every other weekend you are helping their parents to live sinfully. Not at all!

Thank you for your advice. I really want to distance myself from the situation, but have no idea how to accomplish that. Pray for me, please! :)

Bridget said...

I do pray for you Vikki. I know you are in a very difficult situation. I just wish I could be of more help!