Recently, I began working at a facility which helps to support and care for mentally disabled adults. The work has been very rewarding in the sense that I get to live out the Gospel and provide for my family at the same time. However, it also has opened my eyes to a glaring error in many Christians way of seeing things.
It is strange to me that people will so easily excuse and forgive the inappropriate actions of mentally diminished. Many of these people would read the riot act towards someone with normal mental capabilities. Yet, they are all too willing to extend grace to someone to whom they feel “should know better.” For a Christian this is hypocrisy, plain and simple.
I can hear the objection already: “Wait a minute, a normal person with a functioning brain has more responsibility for their actions.”
Jesus compared to sin to being sick (Mk 2:17). Sin is a disease that has infected the whole creation. It’s why the whole of creation groans for the revealing of the “sons of God” (Rom 8:19-21). The whole creation is sick and dying (Rom 6:23).
“But… But… those with diminished mental capabilities aren’t aware of what they are doing. Normal people are.”
Some of the last words of Jesus on the cross were: “Father forgive them, for they are aware of what they do.”
Wait, that’s not right, is it?
It’s “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).
It’s simple, we are all sick (Rom 3:23). Christians have accepted the medicine of the Gospel: salvation by grace through Jesus. The world at large still needs the medicine. We shouldn’t be holding people to the standard of condemnation. We should be holding them to the higher standard of grace.
The people I work with don’t realize what they are doing to themselves and others, it is my job as their support to guide them into ways (no matter how many times they commit the same inappropriate action) of behaving which is appropriate. At the same time, I am there to help them meet their goals and aspirations, however simple or complex they maybe. It is our job as Christians to do the same thing with sinners. Sure, we can tell them what they are doing is wrong, but are we redirecting them to what is right — namely, JESUS!
And remember: THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!