- Essay: Sins of
Omission versus Sins of Commission
- This Week’s Sermon from Rev.
Frank and Mary Hoffman
- Hosting a Vegetarian Exchange Student
1. Essay: Sins of Omission versus Sins of Commission
week I asked whether a sin of omission, such as failure to protect
vulnerable individuals from harm, is as blameworthy as sins of
commission, such as actually harming vulnerable individuals. A
Utilitarian, who would focus on the end result rather than intentions,
would likely assert one is responsible only to the degree that one
could have prevented the harm, regardless of whether or not one
perpetrated the harm.
Jesus taught that intentions are
important. For example, Jesus said, “I say to you that every one who
is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:22).
And, Jesus said that looking at a woman with lust in the heart is
tantamount to adultery (Matthew 5:28). In these examples, sentiments,
rather than actual actions, can be the bases of judgment.
the perspective of the victim, intentions do not matter much. The sow
who is immobile, confined for many weeks in a gestation crate, does
not care whether the farmer is concerned about her welfare, whether
the farmer is forced to use such confinement due to economic
pressures, why some people want to eat pig flesh, or why those who
care about animals aren’t doing more to protect her. She just wants
relief from her pain and misery.
In my view, at the end of the
day, it is not up to us to ascertain who is blameworthy and who is
not. Judgment is the province of God. If we are to be faithful
Christians, we don’t need to worry about who is guilty; our role is to
serve God. An important part of serving God is serving God’s nonhuman
persons, our nonhuman neighbors, who are crucial components of
Creation. To the degree that we have the ability to protect nonhuman
persons, we are responsible for the harm that befalls them. If we fail
to do so, we are blameworthy, and how blameworthy we are, relative to
other people, really doesn’t matter.
Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.
2. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
Polluted Clergy (Pastors – Priests – Prophets)
3. Hosting a Vegetarian Exchange Student
vegetarian high school student in Brazil wants to spend a semester in
the United States. She is seeking a host who can accommodate her
vegetarian lifestyle. If anyone is interested, we can provide further
information about the student and the placement service. Please
respond to [email protected].