Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Misguided Compassion

I try to avoid commenting on the cultural confusion that seems to go on in our modern, I mean post-modern world, but today I can't help it. Read a news story about a hospital in Japan that set up a drop box for unwanted children. There had been a rash lately of abandoned infants in Japan, and so this hospital decided to do the compassionate thing and installed a trap door on the side of the building that allows parents of unwanted babies to drop them off into an incubator. No, I am not making this up. So it seems that someone dropped off a child - but not an infant, a toddler estimated to be about 3 years old. And now everyone is all upset about this, and concerned about the trauma that the toddler has sustained.

This strikes me as yet another example of so-called compassion run off the tracks. Yes, it is a travesty that some biological fathers and mothers (I will not call them parents) would abandon their unwanted children. We all should be struck with compassion for the children, who indeed are traumatized by such an act, be they infants or toddlers or even teenagers. But so many today want to act on this compassion by seeking to only mitigate the effects of the act and not deal with the real issue. So they implement ways that in reality make it easier for someone to avoid personal responsibility. In this case, a drop box for unwanted children, making it easy for anyone wanting to get rid of a kid to do so. So rather than serving as a safety net for the children, instead this creates an easy and relatively guilt-free means of abandoning a child. Put yourself in the shoes of a young unwed teenage mom who has just given birth. Struggling with the impacts of being a mother, all the life changes that come with it, wondering how to adapt and deal with the situation. And along comes a simple, easy, no-strings-attached way to dump the child and get on with life. So rather than having to take personal responsibility and make the hard choices to either raise the child, put it up for adoption, etc. - she can just drop him or her off and walk away. And the safety net for the children actually becomes an encouragement to abandon children. The very thing the hospital wants to protect from happening is actually promoted by the ease with which it can be done. Subsidized child abandonment.

This is where our definition of compassion, and how we act on that compassion, has to be informed by our Biblical world view. Jesus Christ had compassion for sinners of all kinds, including you and me. But rather than seeking to help us engage in our sinful behaviors and mitigating the effects, He instead became the solution to our root problem - our innate depravity - and voluntarily sacrificed Himself to deliver us from the bondage we were in. He didn't seek to make it easier for us to sin, He instead sought to make us holy so that we would be free from sin. He didn't remove our personal responsibility, He instead called us to repentance and faith in Him and His sufficient sacrifice. Unless we take this same kind of approach to helping our world and our society deal with the cultural ills brought on by man's depravity, we will continue to see misdirected compassion enable all kinds of wrong behaviors. Giving out clean needles to heroin addicts, handing out condoms to teenagers, drop boxes for unwanted infants - where will we go next?

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