Rather than say we are also commanded to rebuke and stand up for what is holy, I would say that sometimes we are called to do that within our command to love our neighbor.

When asked what the greatest commandment is, Christ responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

All the Law depends on these two commandments, so any rebuke we may have must be in a way that loves our neighbor.² ³ I agree with you completely that love of neighbor does not just mean “compassion.” There are many ways to love one’s neighbor. Clearly, a mother letting her child run into traffic is neither loving nor compassionate —assuming you mean it literally, that she let her child run into traffic, then it’s the opposite: evil, wicked, and hateful.

While there may be Christians who use “compassion” as a get-out clause for avoiding responsibility, I would argue the difference between their “compassion” and love of neighbor is those using compassion as a get-out clause are using it as an excuse not to act. Love of neighbor is an action, it is a work.¹ They are not similar in any meaningful manner. I would also argue that many Christians use your line of reasoning to continue in their non-loving ways, claiming a higher authority to rebuke those whom they do not know. This is precisely what I am criticizing in the above article, and offering thoughts for a better approach.

Notes

  1. See Søren Kierkegaard, Works of Love.
  2. Proverbs 25:15: “Patient persistence pierces through indifference; gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses.”
  3. 1 Peter 3:15: “In your hearts, honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

The truth is a trap … you cannot get the truth by capturing it, only by its capturing you. — Søren Kierkegaard, Journals.

The truth is a trap … you cannot get the truth by capturing it, only by its capturing you. — Søren Kierkegaard, Journals.