I find myself battling between my upbringing within the tradition of the Holiness Movement and with my current situation within the tradition of Anglo-Catholicism. Both present a very different way of engaging the faith, God, and one another, particularly in how we should live out our lives as Christians.
“Be holy, even as I am holy,” as Jesus said. Yes, but we too often fall into a kind of “perfectionism” that works against our natures as beings that always fall short of the glory of God. That is just how things are, yet not excusing immorality or unholy actions.
As a result, too many of us descend into a “shame spiral” (remember that?) that contributes to unreasonable demands of ourselves and more tragically of others. We expect ever more stringent and demanding proof of our devotion to God exhibited through our actions. (This is the pattern of the politicized Religious Right and fundamentalism) We become Pharisees. Then, we tend to really become Pharisaical – condemning, hypocritical, unrealistic, mean, angry, bitter, seeing the speck in everyone else’s eyes but not the tree trunk in our own, and then trying to demean and squash those who disagree with us.
If course, the other extreme is an attitude that is morally and ethically laissez-faire and a demand that there is really no such thing as sin, no real need for repentance, no need for holiness, and that we are all really good and virtuous by nature.
I want to live into the understanding that we are called by God to be moral and ethical – to love mercy, to do justly, and to walk humbly with our Lord. We are called to be holy. Yet, we all fail again and again and this is our plight. We don’t wallow in it, but we also to not deny the reality of it.
So, give people a break! Be at peace and encourage and cajole and support all to seek God and God’s will, call all to holiness, but allow the judgmentalism to end and let the responsibility of judgment remain with the only one who is justified in judging.