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  • Charity or Morality

    Scripture is true across any and all cultures, I believe that, but the application of it can vary depending on culture.

    In the U.S. typically a Christian would not wear a t-shirt/sweatshirt with a Playboy bunny on it because of what it represents -- immorality and pornography.

    To someone in a refuge camp located in a remote village in Africa or Asia, that same shirt would carry no such negative connotations, but would merely be a source of warmth.

    If you owned that shirt (you were cleaning out your closet), would you give it to a person in need who had no such knowledge of its symbolism, or would you throw it out because of what it represents to you?

    Would you choose charity, which transcends culture, or would you choose your sense of morality, which may not transcend culture?

    Do you choose the absolute or the relative?

    And no, there is no other shirt to give and you cannot change the shirt.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Souled Out View Post
    Scripture is true across any and all cultures, I believe that, but the application of it can vary depending on culture.

    In the U.S. typically a Christian would not wear a t-shirt/sweatshirt with a Playboy bunny on it because of what it represents -- immorality and pornography.

    To someone in a refuge camp located in a remote village in Africa or Asia, that same shirt would carry no such negative connotations, but would merely be a source of warmth.

    If you owned that shirt (you were cleaning out your closet), would you give it to a person in need who had no such knowledge of its symbolism, or would you throw it out because of what it represents to you?

    Would you choose charity, which transcends culture, or would you choose your sense of morality, which may not transcend culture?

    Do you choose the absolute or the relative?

    And no, there is no other shirt to give and you cannot change the shirt.
    Greetings Souled Out,

    The logical question for me would be, am I more concerned with meeting physical felt needs, or the needs of the eternal spirit? One necessarily flows out of the other, but we need to be careful about putting the physical before or above the spiritual? If our focus is the spiritual need first, then spiritual maturity convicts us of the necessity of meeting the physical need. If our focus is meeting the physical or felt need only, or first, why are we concerned? Can we show true charity of Christ without moral, or spiritual dependence, conviction? Challenging question, thank you.

    Many Blessings,
    RW

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Souled Out View Post
      Scripture is true across any and all cultures, I believe that, but the application of it can vary depending on culture.

      In the U.S. typically a Christian would not wear a t-shirt/sweatshirt with a Playboy bunny on it because of what it represents -- immorality and pornography.

      To someone in a refuge camp located in a remote village in Africa or Asia, that same shirt would carry no such negative connotations, but would merely be a source of warmth.

      If you owned that shirt (you were cleaning out your closet), would you give it to a person in need who had no such knowledge of its symbolism, or would you throw it out because of what it represents to you?

      Would you choose charity, which transcends culture, or would you choose your sense of morality, which may not transcend culture?

      Do you choose the absolute or the relative?

      And no, there is no other shirt to give and you cannot change the shirt.
      It depends on the intent of the individual giving the gift as well as the circumstances involved I guess. If one has their conscience condemn them when giving away the shirt I guess, one would need to ask themselves the question as to why they were you wearing the shirt to begin with.

      This kind of reminds me of the issues with Jesus healing on the Sabbath, or the issues the Apostle Paul with various churches condemning others for eating unclean meats/meats sacraficed to idols in various synogogues.

      I think there's a moral obligation aspect in there somewhere when it comes to what we give, but it really does depend on a multitude of factors besides just how people will view us. Mercy, compassion, specific need of the individual are all factors which should come into play when making a decision.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by RogerW View Post
        Greetings Souled Out,

        The logical question for me would be, am I more concerned with meeting physical felt needs, or the needs of the eternal spirit? One necessarily flows out of the other, but we need to be careful about putting the physical before or above the spiritual? If our focus is the spiritual need first, then spiritual maturity convicts us of the necessity of meeting the physical need. If our focus is meeting the physical or felt need only, or first, why are we concerned? Can we show true charity of Christ without moral, or spiritual dependence, conviction? Challenging question, thank you.

        Many Blessings,
        RW
        lol..this is the same dilemma I was having when I attempted to write a response. I had both a physical and spiritual dilemma that came up when trying to respond. If I said..yes it's okay...then I thought I might be stating that it's okay to pass on something that is deemed morally inacceptable by myself and others, then I thought if I say no it's not okay..I'd be stating that to worry about morality is more important than having compassion on an individual...lol..so in short..it was a very good question..

        Perhaps the dilemma here is in us thinking that Godly mercy and righteousnous are two concepts that can be seperated. I don't think the scriptures teach us that though. I think that when we go about doing something out of benefit for an individual as oppossed to worrying about what our moral standing will be or what people will think, we are already being demonstrating the type of righteousnous that Christ exemplified on the cross...hmmm...

        Comment


        • #5
          The cross, where God's mercy/peace met with God's truth/righteousnous

          Psalm 85:11
          Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

          So giving it some thought and to answer your question Souled Out, I think that action taken in such a circumstance could be deemed as both merciful and/or righteous despite what type of symbol was on the shirt.

          In Christ,

          Stephen

          Comment


          • #6
            If in giving the shirt a 'greater good' would be done, then I would give the shirt. It reminds me of another question someone asked awhile ago. If you were hiding Jews in your basement and the Gestapo knocked on your door, asking if you were hiding Jews. Do you lie, or do you tell the truth? Of course, you'd lie. Morality is both absolute and relative, as contradictory as that sounds.

            Comment


            • #7
              Great responses.

              The theme I'm seeing is that charity is pretty high up there in terms of godliness.

              When I read Jesus saying that when we give to the needy we give unto Him, to me that's a bold thing to say.

              And when we come to the end of James 1 and read:

              Pure religion and being undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

              There are two things stated: be charitable and remain unspotted from the world.

              How do you do both?

              It's a heart issue.

              A knife itself isn't sinful, and if you put it in the hands of a person with a heart full with hate, wrath and jealousy, the knife still isn't sinful.

              The danger isn't in the knife, its in the hate, wrath and jealousy that would cause a man to use the knife to kill another.

              In the example, I would give the shirt (being charitable) and give it with a pure heart, knowing that the shirt itself is not sinful (being unspotted).

              Comment


              • #8
                The first thing we need to remember is that 'charity' in the bible meant 'agape': agape ag-ah'-pay; love, i.e. affection or benevolence; specially (plural) a love-feast:--(feast of) charity(-ably), dear, love. Therefore we must look at our attitude to giving it. Are we giving it out of love for the person and a need from that love to help them and lift them up or are we doing it for selfish reasons? If you do it in love I have found you usually won't go wrong.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi Souled Out!

                  What if the shirt had blasphemous words against Jesus Christ on it?

                  What if the shirt had the mark of the beast on it?

                  I am trying find out if there is a line we draw.

                  (of course I am not suggesting you would have any of these in your closet)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Souled Out View Post
                    And no, there is no other shirt to give and you cannot change the shirt.
                    Can I give them the shirt I'm wearing instead? I mean... if I found an extra shirt laying around, presumably I'm wearing one already.

                    I hate to "dodge" your initial question, but the hypothetical situation isn't entirely "real." If I'm cleaning out my closest (i.e., I'm going through extra clothes) to give away as charity, and I found one with an image or word of negative connotation, I would rather switch it with a different, "positive" shirt, whether it be the one I was wearing or one I wasn't initially intending on giving away. In a more realistic situation, yes, I can change the shirt. I would throw away the shirt with the negative symbol on it and replace it with a better shirt that I own. My conscience wouldn't allow me to give a shirt with a "dirty" image on it to someone who wasn't aware what it meant.

                    I think the same as partaker of Christ; if the shirt had an upside-down cross on it, or the F-word written on the front, would you give it to someone who was unaware what an upside-down cross meant or what the F-word was? More than likely, no, because your conscience would fight against giving "bad" shirts to someone because you know it's bad.

                    If you have a shirt with an image or word that you know for a fact is bad or referring to something bad, why would you willingly give it as a blessing to someone? Charity and morality aren't entirely separate concepts; charity relies on morality.
                    To This Day

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Souled Out View Post
                      Scripture is true across any and all cultures, I believe that, but the application of it can vary depending on culture.

                      In the U.S. typically a Christian would not wear a t-shirt/sweatshirt with a Playboy bunny on it because of what it represents -- immorality and pornography.

                      To someone in a refuge camp located in a remote village in Africa or Asia, that same shirt would carry no such negative connotations, but would merely be a source of warmth.

                      If you owned that shirt (you were cleaning out your closet), would you give it to a person in need who had no such knowledge of its symbolism, or would you throw it out because of what it represents to you?

                      Would you choose charity, which transcends culture, or would you choose your sense of morality, which may not transcend culture?

                      Do you choose the absolute or the relative?

                      And no, there is no other shirt to give and you cannot change the shirt.

                      I know what the shirt means, in good concience I couldn't pass it on. If anything, I'd cut it up, toss out the bunny and use the rest as rags. If I was ambitious enough that is!

                      If I needed to give because there was a need - I could find other things that others could certainly use. If people needed tshirts and I didn't have any to give I'd use my own money and see what could be done in the way of donations to sent tshirts.
                      Seek ye FIRST the kingdom.
                      Not second or third, but first.
                      Only when all else pales to God, when He receives all glory,
                      when He is the source of all hope,
                      when His love is received and freely given,
                      holding not to the world but to the promise to come,
                      will all other things be added unto to you.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by partaker of Christ View Post
                        Hi Souled Out!

                        1) What if the shirt had blasphemous words against Jesus Christ on it?

                        2) What if the shirt had the mark of the beast on it?

                        3) I am trying find out if there is a line we draw.

                        (of course I am not suggesting you would have any of these in your closet)
                        Hi Partaker!

                        My answers are 1) no, 2) let's not go there and 3) our senses of morality draw the line.

                        Originally posted by markedward View Post
                        Can I give them the shirt I'm wearing instead? I mean... if I found an extra shirt laying around, presumably I'm wearing one already.

                        I hate to "dodge" your initial question, but the hypothetical situation isn't entirely "real." If I'm cleaning out my closest (i.e., I'm going through extra clothes) to give away as charity, and I found one with an image or word of negative connotation, I would rather switch it with a different, "positive" shirt, whether it be the one I was wearing or one I wasn't initially intending on giving away. In a more realistic situation, yes, I can change the shirt. I would throw away the shirt with the negative symbol on it and replace it with a better shirt that I own. My conscience wouldn't allow me to give a shirt with a "dirty" image on it to someone who wasn't aware what it meant.

                        I think the same as partaker of Christ; if the shirt had an upside-down cross on it, or the F-word written on the front, would you give it to someone who was unaware what an upside-down cross meant or what the F-word was? More than likely, no, because your conscience would fight against giving "bad" shirts to someone because you know it's bad.

                        If you have a shirt with an image or word that you know for a fact is bad or referring to something bad, why would you willingly give it as a blessing to someone? Charity and morality aren't entirely separate concepts; charity relies on morality.
                        Thank you, Mark.

                        The story was just for unpacking and exploration purposes of choices between charity and morality and wasn’t meant to be without holes, although I’m sure it’s not totally outside the realm of possibility.

                        There are fundamental moral principles that generally (there are always exceptions) transcend all cultures, such as murder, stealing, etc, but a lot of morality is defined by culture. I'm hard pressed to find a fundamental principle that falls outside the scope of the Ten Commandments.

                        Polygamy is unacceptable in our culture, but totally all right and even encouraged in others. These types of moral issues are really the meat of the question.

                        The culture can present something that is amoral, but because we are moral agents, everything we do or choose is either moral or immoral because we serve a moral God.

                        The bunny means nothing to me and because the shirt would go to someone where the symbol means nothing to them, I would have a clear conscience.

                        As the giver I'd be blessed and because there'd be no stigma for the recipient, I believe he'd be blessed as well.

                        I’m guessing for you that if the bunny was Bugs Bunny, you’d probably feel different.

                        In the case of the shirt with profanity, I wouldn’t be able to give it, thus my sense of morality would win out.

                        The shirt with the image – images are powerful and they do transcend very well, so no I would not be able to give a shirt depicting a sexual, violent or other immoral act.

                        And I agree in most cases morality does drive charity. But what if you came to the belief that some meats where unclean and you were clearing out your freezer. Would you give the “unclean” meat to someone who didn’t share that belief or would you throw it out?

                        Originally posted by threebigrocks View Post
                        I know what the shirt means, in good concience I couldn't pass it on. If anything, I'd cut it up, toss out the bunny and use the rest as rags. If I was ambitious enough that is!

                        If I needed to give because there was a need - I could find other things that others could certainly use. If people needed tshirts and I didn't have any to give I'd use my own money and see what could be done in the way of donations to sent tshirts.
                        Thanks, TBR.

                        Something would be amiss if either the giver gives or the recipient receives, not with a clear conscience.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by partaker of Christ View Post
                          Hi Souled Out!

                          What if the shirt had blasphemous words against Jesus Christ on it?

                          What if the shirt had the mark of the beast on it?

                          I am trying find out if there is a line we draw.

                          (of course I am not suggesting you would have any of these in your closet)
                          I think the underlying premise made within this thread is that the person is a Christian, thus they wouldn't have such things within their possession.

                          I think another premise one can think about when being asked this question is the following..do we care more about human opinion or about doing what's considered righteous in the eyes of God?

                          That being said, assumming that the individual is indeed a Christian - I think the best thing to do would be to give without the thought of what individuals will think of you. I think of this example of the time when Christ ate with those deemed undesirable/sinners before the Pharisees. He was labeled a drunkard and a glutton for doing so, particularly since he didn't fast as much or require his disciples to fast as much as the Pharisees and the scribes did. Ironically enough, he actually stated to the Pharisess that the very people they deemed sinners were actually making it into the kingdom faster than they were.

                          It's important for all to remember that God's righteousnous isn't based on human opinion, it's based on faith in the one whom he sent. I think it's important to make sure that the inside of our cups are clean rather than the outside, and that we are acting in faith and in accordance with the will of God when showing charity to others - as oppossed to acting in accordance with the opinion of men, and their opinions of what it is we are doing.

                          In Christ,

                          Stephen

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            A couple years ago I was going through things at home and came across things that we had years ago. I came up with plenty to give to Goodwill, and plenty to just throw away. Went through the whole house and wound up coming up with a large amount to give away and a big load of things to take to the dump.

                            People come across things that have been tucked in a corner, put away, stuffed in the corner of a closet that are not given a second thought which they come across later. Such as a playboy tshirt. Just toss it into the dump pile!
                            Seek ye FIRST the kingdom.
                            Not second or third, but first.
                            Only when all else pales to God, when He receives all glory,
                            when He is the source of all hope,
                            when His love is received and freely given,
                            holding not to the world but to the promise to come,
                            will all other things be added unto to you.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by threebigrocks View Post
                              A couple years ago I was going through things at home and came across things that we had years ago. I came up with plenty to give to Goodwill, and plenty to just throw away. Went through the whole house and wound up coming up with a large amount to give away and a big load of things to take to the dump.

                              People come across things that have been tucked in a corner, put away, stuffed in the corner of a closet that are not given a second thought which they come across later. Such as a playboy tshirt. Just toss it into the dump pile!
                              lol. I guess I should have read the initial thread topic a bit better, I was under the assumption that you were right in front of the person and the only thing you had to give was a playboy t-shirt...lol. That being said, throwing away the shirt would probably be the best option for me..

                              Comment

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