Some thoughts from Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

Book 3 Chapter 4

Lewis makes an interesting point about why Christians are called not to judge. He explains that we do not see where the person is coming from. We may have been brought up in a good home, learning a virtuous life and proper manners, loving mercy, etc, while the other person may have learned only to perform vices and cruelty. Lewis says

When a man who has been perverted from his youth and taught that cruelty is the right thing, does some tiny kindness, or refrains from some cruelty he might have committed, and thereby, perhaps, risks being sneered at by his companions, ha may, in God’s eyes, be doing more good than you and I would do if we gave up life itself for a friend.

That is an interesting theory, and does relate to the nurture vs nature debate, though very indirectly. What I really want to focus on is the point about not judging others. It is often difficult for Christians to define how far they are allowed to judge. People often say Christians are too judgmental, narrow minded, and are supposed to not judge. Yet C.S. Lewis says that we are not to judge others because “we see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material.” Lewis says God judges man by how he deals with the situation he is placed in (though this does not extend as far as salvation, but only morality and psychoanalysis).

Book 3 Chapter 5

Lewis explains the gap of propriety between generations and different people.

A Pacific Islander woman wearing hardly any clothes and a Victorian lady completely covered in clothes might both be equally ‘modest’ or proper, or decent, according to the standards of their own society.

Modesty and propriety are different things. Propriety is related to social standards, which can change, while the Christian term ‘modesty’ refers to chastity. Lewis then explains that

“old, or old-fashion, people should be very careful not to assume that young or ’emancipated’ people are corrupt whenever they are (by the old standard) improper; and, in return, that young people should not call their elders prudes or puritans because they do not easily adopt the new standard.”

This I found very interesting. There are so many fights between the elderly and the youth on ‘modesty’ and how their standards are different. It isn’t that they are denying their standards are different, but that they are declaring their own is the absolute and correct view. Each standard is proper to its proper social circle. For anyone to go into a group of elderly people dressed indecently would be in the wrong, and vice versa. Now, this is not excusing youth for having really immodest clothing, but is showing that what is decent changes. One can dress immodestly on purpose or accident the prior being either unchaste or uncharitable and the later bad manners.

PS. I got this when I finished writing. Thanks WordPress 

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