“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sin and social skills

So, a person with a cognitive or emotional or mental disability approaches you. He stands too close to your face. He asks you questions that you think are inappropriate. He touches you too much. He doesn't get your hint that you are feeling uncomfortable. He doesn't understand your language indicating that you want to end the conversation. He will not let the conversation end. Finally you break away. When you get with a friend, you comment, "That guy is weird. He's a mess. He doesn't get it at all, he was like standing too close and touching me and couldn't take a hint."

The question is...who just committed the sin?

He doesn't get it, you do.
He is kinda flailing around in attempting to be loving and friendly. You aren't nor do you want to be loving or friendly.
He will talk about you as his friend. You talk about him as weird and how he doesn't get it.
He will look forward to a chance to talk with you again. You will avoid him in the future.
He will give you all the time he has. You will give time only out of some feeling of guilt.

So who is committing the sin?

It is amazing what we, what I will do or think about a person just because their social skills are not all they should be. The person is not being evil, the person is not doing wrong, the person just doesn't understand many of what are truly the subtleties of social skills. My response is to reject him and 90% of my friends and 90% of the church would probably agree with my rejection of him. We as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, condone, understand, accept, advocate, discuss, follow through on rejection of people with various disabilities because of their social skills.

May God forgive us.

Yet as I approach the Lord, of course my behavior is obviously perfect and my social skills are flawless. I have nothing to hide, and to the Lord, interacting with me is no doubt "a day at the beach!" How fortunate for him that he is able to be in my presence (being the Lord, and being omnipresent, he kinda doesn't have a choice but to be in my presence). I am confident that the three persons of the trinity do not huddle together and say to each other, "McNair is weird." Surely they talk about how fortunate they are to have McNair on their side. But you know, in reality God's interactions with me, and my prayers to Him are "a day at the beach" because the Lord loves me. He loves me not because I am "a day at the beach" but because out of his love he has chosen to make interactions with me "a day at the beach." He has chosen to make me feel like I am "a day at the beach! " In spite of all my problems, my sins, my poor social skills, my pride, the crap that is in me and circles me like flies because of the choices I have made, HE LOVES ME! You see that is the example he provides. He shows me, ME, as the example of loving someone who is difficult to love, and then He loves me.

Do you think he cares about the social skills of the person who bothers you? Please! No, he treats him like he is "a day at the beach" just as much as he does to me.

So do you get it? Social skills deficits are not sin. If I reject another on the basis of social skills, that is sin and I am the sinner. We, I, need to learn about love. True love is not easy. It is messy and inconvenient. It makes you feel uncomfortable. It makes demands on you. I pray that when I am put to the test, when God asks me to show real love to another human being, I will not be worrying about that person's social skills. I hope my concern will be whether I am reflecting the kind of Love that God shows to me. I pray that I will be worried about the sin I am tempted to commit by rejecting another person who God truly loves.



Anonymous said...

Brilliantly said. I have nothing to add to your comments except to reflect that when the "wierdo" is bothering us, or when someone else has wronged us in another way; what do we seek? Justice! When we are the "wierdo," when we know we have wronged someone, we petition for mercy.

When the Lord looks at us He must apply justice, by His standard, because He is justice; if we seek it,ask for it, He will show mercy, in recognition of our repentence. But that mercy is granted in grace, undeserved. We happily accept that grace, that He has given out of His unconditional loving acceptance of us. We instantly forget the lesson.

That is another part of the "Do you get it?" If in our Christian love we effort to be more gracious in the way we express our love, by our actions, then we come closer to understanding how God could love us enough to want to spend eternity with us, with me!

When we love those who are difficult to love, and think of spending time with them as "a day at the beach," we approach the quality of love God shows us in accepting us, just as we are. That is a day at the beach.

Cassie said...

This challenged me so much. Especially when you pointed out that the church help in the rejection of those with disabilities based off their social skills. These things that so easily separate us in society, but at the end of the day do not always show our heart. Especially for those with disabilities who never learned acceptable social skills and never had anyone walk alongside them to teach them. Yet we hang it over their heads as though they should know better.

Rather than focusing on the other person, it is more of a heart check on yourself than anything else. Where am I at with God? Am I showing characteristics of Christ when judging another's social skills rather than loving them as a person? Being more worried about the fact that I would be sinning if I were to actually reject someone who God loves and cares for, rather than being worried about someone's social skills in the moment.

This is such a great reminder in all relationships as well, that if someone is different or doesn't fit the mold, we are not to reject them when they could be shown love and empathy!