Pious politeness is not charity and is destroying us

What we call love these days is not love. Love requires concern for a person. What we have is not extreme love, but an extreme sense of politeness that we call love.

But it is not love.

Let me give an example. Let us say a couple of our coworkers refer to indulging in pornography or some other immoral activity. If my children, or my parents did that, I would react with alarm for their well being. I would warn them, because I feel a deep and abiding concern for them personally. I would do that because I love them.

But we would not consider doing such a thing. In fact, we don’t even feel deep concern for them. We feel no anguish for them. We are, more frequently, concerned about making sure we don’t think we are “judging them”. If we say anything about the matter, it is likely to let them know that even if we don’t do such things ourselves, we are “cool with it”. But more likely, we just let our silence convey the same message.

This is not love. This is a form of politeness. It differs from love just as politeness does. It requires no concern for the person. It has no moving concern for what will happen to them. It is, at best, the sort of human regard that is common among men.

But we convince ourselves that the extreme form of politeness we have adopted is love and charity. It isn’t either one.

We convince ourselves that we are living the higher law, because we call our politeness charity.

In reality, I have observed that those who most carefully adorn themselves with this new love are horribly callous. They are nice, to be sure. But they have stone dead apathy toward their spirit brothers and sisters. They are like politicians. They claim to love everyone, but care only for themselves. They adopt the attitude that will make others like them the best, and then call themselves magnanimous for doing so.

Our apathy is not affection. Our indifferent politeness is not love. Our selfish non-judgmentalism is not charity.

We are playing the politician, and calling ourselves Christlike for it.

Love has concern for the individual. Love wants to separate the individual from their sins, and will suffer their animosity if necessary to attempt it.

The Pharisees made an enormous deal about the Sabbath day and Tithing. These are both real commandments from God. But they exaggerated and swallowed up other righteous principles. When Christ healed a blind man on the Sabbath in John 5, the Pharisees condemned him as a sinner for healing on the Sabbath day.

The Pharisees had a few favorite commandments that they exaggerated beyond all reason. And why? Because they wanted to feel good and spiritual and religious about themselves, even though they were wicked and adulterous men. When they asked for a sign, Christ responded that a wicked and adulterous nation seeks for a sign. Joseph Smith gives us insight into this incident, telling us “the Lord had said to me in a revelation, that any man who wanted a sign was an adulterous person”. Yes, the Pharisees really were adulterers. They were not strictly obedient. They strained at a gnat in tithing and keeping the Sabbath, but swallowed a camel in rationalizing adultery.

Our extreme forms of politeness and kindness are not charity, and they are swallowing up other principles of the gospel. We have adopted them in part because they make us feel like we are being good and spiritual while partaking almost daily of media that requires the most ridiculous levels of rationalization to pretend that it is not offensive to Jesus Christ.

We are told that out of the books that are written we will be judged. And indeed we are judging ourselves by our books, by our movies, by our music.

We call the Pharisees pious, but feel shocked at the least violation of the extreme politeness that we think is love. If a man were to condemn a couple for living together out of wedlock, we would feel shocked at his uncharitable behavior. How revolting we have become in this regard. We are no less pious than the Pharisees were, but we hide our sins behind piety about politeness instead of behind the piety about the Sabbath and tithing.

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John Robertson

I am nothing more than a regular member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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