Love rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. (I Corinthians 15:6)
There once was a woman who loved cats. She had 135 of them in a small two-bedroom house.
Cats are all right. I do not suppose that we should hate them, for they are God’s creatures and have their place, just like dogs, snakes, and coatimundi. The trouble with the woman is not that she loved cats, but that her love descended into sentimentality.
Sentimentality is the abandonment of thought and reason to feeling. The cat woman no doubt had strong feelings for her cats. She loved them. The problem was the excess of feeling that was not tied to reason.
Reason helps us to see the difference between things. Jesus appealed to reason when He chided the Pharisees for straining at gnats and swallowing camels. It may very well be that a person may have a horror of gnats, but it is unreasonable to suggest that swallowing one is the same a swallowing a camel. Most people “get it” without too much trouble.
Just as it is folly not to see that 135 cats in a small house are a tad too many, so it is folly not to see that wrongdoing has many sides to it. A man who cheats on his wife has injured himself in his own soul and is cheapened by it. We may rightly extend him a bit of sympathy because of the mess he has made of things. Someone might also be justified in thinking of his wronged wife, and the humiliation and torment she is exposed to. Some feeling might also be extended toward the children of both families (if there are any), for very often such sinful acts destroy homes and leave children caught up in adult quarrels, miserable, alienated, and lonely. Some might even feel that some of the victims deserve more sympathy than the others do. Such thinking is reasonable, I suppose.
Although the sinner may be an object of our sympathy, because he is bound by sin and “needs Jesus,” yet humanizing Christianity overlooks a very important truth.
“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight,” King David wrote after his heinous sins of adultery and murder. Why are these things wrong, anyway? After all, Uriah was dead, and Bathsheba his wife was happily married to the king. Everyone makes mistakes.
David got it right. His actions were wrong precisely because they were against God, “that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” The modern age gets very sentimental over the wrong things. Yes, he had wronged Uriah, even to murder. Yes, he had defiled Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. Yes, he had disgraced himself before Israel. But these were not the worst of it.
David knew where his greatest feelings should be directed, so much so that all other feelings were submerged. “I have sinned against God.” “I have outraged His holy law, and deserve His wrath and His judgment.”
“Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,” David prays. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
When modern sentimentality gets corrected, and God is once more restored to our love (with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength!), then maybe our humanism will be corrected.