FAQs

Big Questions

Church

Q. Some churches are showing compassion and generosity to their community by serving meals, washing cars, and cleaning up the neighborhood during the week.  I’m very upset that our church has encouraged our members to do these things on Sunday.  How do I respond?

A. Some of us grew up in an era when the rule for Sunday activities—other than going to church, preparing our catechism lesson, taking a nap, and reading The Banner—was “Thou shalt not.”  Thankfully, that has changed.  Not only is the Lord’s Day a wonderful day to show compassion and generosity to others, but it’s also a day when many people have time in their schedules to participate in these “deeds of love and mercy through which the heavenly kingdom comes” (Psalter Hymnal 555:2).

If your convictions won’t allow you to participate in these activities on Sunday, consider praying that the ministry of your fellow church members will help draw the recipients of such generosity to the Savior in whose name these deeds are being done.

—George Vander Weit

Calling

Q. What new jobs do you see being created in our changing world? I’d like to know so I can acquire the cutting-edge skills or education that is essential for preparing for the future.

A. Staying on top of emerging career trends is an art unto itself, as careers wax and wane to meet changing circumstances and keep pace with emerging technologies. At this particular point in time, the healthiest broad hiring sectors are engineering (except for civil), accounting, information technology, health care, and, supposedly, education. However, you could expand that list of general fields by adding technology to specific careers, resulting in job titles such as social media marketing specialist, health informatics specialist, or transportation geography researcher.

That said, I do not typically encourage people I see to pursue any of the top 10 careers just because they appear on a list of “hot” careers. Why is that? The reason is two-fold. First, a career that is viable one day may be outmoded in the future. The second reason is because of individual gifts and calling. If you have a true passion for and gifts in an area where you feel God is calling you, then by faith it’s wise to pursue that direction. God is not bound by statistical probabilities and is able to creatively make a way where none is apparent.

—Bonnie Speyers
Bonnie Speyers is a career counselor at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Christian Morality

Q. A man I know divorced his wife of 27 years to marry another woman. His son, a junior in high school, chose to live with his father and his new stepmother. The friends and relatives of his mother were outraged and told the son that he was condoning his father’s despicable behavior by making this choice. Is condoning another’s bad behavior a sin? Is condoning a type of facilitating or enabling?

A. Condoning another’s wrongful behavior is frequently a sin. A person condones such behavior when the person is aware that the other’s actions produce harm, the person does not denounce the other’s actions or attempt to make the harm less likely to occur, and the person suspects that such inaction is morally blameworthy. Thus, for example, a woman condones the bad behavior of her boyfriend if she allows him to use illegal drugs in the presence of her children, and her inaction qualifies as a sin of omission.

The boy you describe does not appear to fit this characterization of condoning behavior. He probably realizes that his father’s actions have harmed his family, that there is nothing he could have done to alter this course of events, and that his own inaction is therefore not blameworthy.

Condoning harm is less serious, morally speaking, than facilitating harm. A person facilitates the harm produced by another’s wrongdoing when the person acts to increase the likelihood that the other’s actions produce the harm.

Facilitating harm, in turn, is less serious than enabling harm. A person enables the harm produced by another’s wrongdoing when the other’s actions would not produce the harm were it not for this person’s own actions, and the person is aware that his or her own actions may contribute to the harm.

Finally, even if a person unintentionally condones, facilitates, or enables the harm produced by another, it can still qualify as sinful (Lev. 5:15).

—Gregory Mellema
Dr. Gregory Mellema is a philosophy professor at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.

About the Author

George Vander Weit is a retired pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.

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Comments

I've been surfing the web on the issue of tithing, and I read that the New Testament speaks only of setting apart something at the beginning of the week. Tithing a tenth is Old Testament law and amazingly, the tenth was to be enjoyed by the giver for the first 2 years and for the 3rd year it was to be given to the poor and the widow and the Levite. I have never heard this preached on and I have been going to church for 54 years. Would the Banner be able to further investigate this with reference to the Old Testament Law and the New Testament Law of Grace?

Reading the question regarding the young man whose family has been torn apart left me feeling sad and disheartened. Did his relatives ever consider that this young man is hurting, and possibly scared that he may lose his father completely? Understandably, they are concerned for the example his father is setting. If this is the case, maybe some mentoring would be appropriate. Take him out for coffee, or golfing or boating, or whatever, once a week. Compassion and love would be a much more Christ-like response than analysing whether he is sinning by choosing to live with his father. I wonder if this type of judgmental attitude might be one of the reasons that our youth are choosing to leave the church.

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