In my meanderings on Twitter over the past several months, I have learned that there is a great deal of confusion, even in Christendom, about what it means to “judge” people. I thought a review on culpability, corruption and on the judgment of God, using the Great Flood as an example, might be helpful in clearing up some of this confusion. I beg you to judge my words in this post and whether I am speaking the truth. Judging my heart, on the other hand, is not your job, and that is entirely the point.
In my earlier post saying nice things about Ashley Judd as a sort of self-imposed “penance,” I mentioned that we human beings are not capable of judging hearts. Judging hearts is something that I am frequently accused of, and these accusations are due to a misunderstanding about judgment. We cannot judge hearts. We can judge ideas in that we can determine whether something is a sin or is not a sin, and we can say whether something is a sin or is not a sin. If I say, for example, that abortion is a grave sin, I have not judged anyone.The main reason people don’t understand this, I think, is because they don’t understand what culpability is.
Tonight, Sr. Helena tweeted something important that you need to know about culpability.
— Sr Helena Burns, fsp (@SrHelenaBurns) January 14, 2013
That’s important. To those whom much is given, much is required.
But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.
Those who are most aware of God’s will are most culpable if they disobey.
culpable – Morally responsible for an evil action. Culpability assumes sufficient awareness and (internal) consent to the evil done. It is identified with formal guilt or sin. (Etym. Latin culpabilis, blameworthy; from culpare, to blame.)
This is not all that complicated to understand, really. Most people understand that if a three-year old kicks a puppy, you do not treat the situation the same as you would if a twenty-year-old kicked a puppy. A child does not have the same level of understanding as an adult, and so the adult is held more responsible for his actions, generally speaking, than a child is. So it will be when God judges our hearts. Those of us who knew better will receive harsher punishment than those of us who did not know any better, even if the sin itself is grave.
Given all of this, what might this tell us about the Great Flood, wherein God destroyed every living being on earth save Noah, Noah’s family, and those animals that were carried on the Ark with them. I actually found an excellent article by a protestant named Loren explaining at least one major aspect about why God sent the Great Flood. It was because there was no good to be found among any of the people on the earth except for Noah and his family.
These people upon whom God poured out the Flood were not merely dabbling in sin here and there, everything that they were doing was an horrific abomination!
Indeed. As it says in Genesis 6: 5-8:
The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.
Mankind had become so wicked that EVERYTHING in their hearts was evil, at all times. All of us are created to know God, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be together with Him in the next world. This is WHY God made us. There was no possibility that they could become what they were created to be because they had become so corrupted that they were incapable of anything good.
Remember that this was before God delivered the Ten Commandments. There was no priesthood to obey and no divine law written down to follow. Man, left completely to himself, with no priesthood and no law, is left to his own devices. Without the laws of God, without humble obedience to them, and without the aid of God’s grace which comes through the Cross of Jesus Christ, mankind is destined to corruption.
God destroyed mankind through the Great Flood because they were without hope to become anything better than what they were. This caused God nothing but sorrow, to see His creation choose evil.
And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
Knowing what we do about God’s grief for them, and also about culpability, we have reason to believe that He had mercy on their souls.
So it is that today, as we look around us and see so much corruption in the world around us, that we are grieved along with God for the souls of those who have embraced the depravity, whether they sit above us in towers of steel or whether they are marching in the streets naked. We grieve for those who are spitting in the face of God by stepping on the weak and mocking what is holy. This does not mean that we are “judging” their hearts, though. We have faith in the mercy of God. We join with Him in His sorrow. We kneel at the Foot of the Cross with our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Sorrows, and weep for those who are nailing her Son, Jesus Christ, to the Cross. At the same time, we know that we who know God and understand what He expects of us are going to be held to a higher standard on The Day of Judgment. We trust that those most in danger of hell are those who know God and say willfully say no to Him anyway.
In your prayers for the people of the world, don’t forget to pray for us who will be held most accountable because we know God. May God have mercy on us all.
Photo: A Sermon in Nature, by godserv, Flickr