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4/08/2017 1:35 am  #1


Ethics of this scenario

As most of you know I have a burning hatred for President Evil Von Stupid, and everyday he seems to be getting worse, and worse. In fact when I pray I ask God to remove him and his Legion of Doom from power ASAP. Lately when I pray I've been wondering if I should ask God to visit some misfortune on him for being an all around terrible person. Ethically speaking would it be moral/non-moral to ask God to grant misfortune on someone even as terrible as President Stupid Von Moron?

 

4/08/2017 3:28 am  #2


Re: Ethics of this scenario

Well, a Christian certainly couldn't do it in good conscience, what with "love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you". I have very little idea what other religions teach on the subject. I think it would be ethically more "fitting" (without taking a specific religious stance) to pray simply that Trump be removed from power or that he experience a radical conversion of heart and learn some basic moral virtues. Actively wishing harm on him won't make the world a better place, and (I suspect) will only encourage habits of hatred in yourself.

That said, I'm a firm believer in praying for what you actually want, not what you think you ought to want, and it's worth putting your real feelings before God in prayer.

 

4/10/2017 2:48 pm  #3


Re: Ethics of this scenario

^ I'm not so sure about the last part, Alexander.  I have thought and taught just what you said, but I am beginning to think that indulging in those kinds of thoughts, especially repeatedly, only reinforces vicious psychological dynamics.  If I think that X is a vicious thing to think, I should never cease the struggle against admitting X into my heart, even in prayer.  This would be distinct from confessing the temptation or tendency to think X.

@AKG  I'm not sure what to think.  We have the evidence of the imprecatory psalms, but this is interpretively thorny.  I think it would be much safer to admit in humility that we are not in a position to judge the state of another person's heart or whether or not the world would be better off with that person suffering some misfortune.  Simply leave such judgments to God.  (I freely confess that I frequently fall short of this standard.)

 

4/10/2017 3:35 pm  #4


Re: Ethics of this scenario

Proclus wrote:

^ I'm not so sure about the last part, Alexander.  I have thought and taught just what you said, but I am beginning to think that indulging in those kinds of thoughts, especially repeatedly, only reinforces vicious psychological dynamics.  If I think that X is a vicious thing to think, I should never cease the struggle against admitting X into my heart, even in prayer.  This would be distinct from confessing the temptation or tendency to think X.

Of course, if you don't recognise that the things you want aren't what you ought to want, then asking for these things becomes unhealthy. But "admitting X into my heart" is very different from "admitting that X is already in your heart". Admitting to God "I want X, not Y, though I know you want me to want Y" is perfectly fine. If it is in fact true, why not put it before God? It should definitely be accompanied by a petition to be given the grace to want Y. But as Herbert McCabe argues, the very act of putting these desires in prayer begins the process of recognising that we don't really want X.

 

4/12/2017 8:14 am  #5


Re: Ethics of this scenario

Alexander wrote:

Admitting to God "I want X, not Y, though I know you want me to want Y" is perfectly fine. If it is in fact true, why not put it before God? It should definitely be accompanied by a petition to be given the grace to want Y. But as Herbert McCabe argues, the very act of putting these desires in prayer begins the process of recognising that we don't really want X.

But there's a difference between admitting in prayer that you want X and praying for X.

If one is not sure whether X is good or bad, but one wants X, then one may pray for X. The point of that is just our recognition of God's Fatherhood. Children ask their parents for what they want; they are not bothered about making requests of them. Jesus shows us the perfection of this sort of petitionary prayer: adding, "Yet not my will, but your will, be done."

But if one knows or thinks that X is bad, yet one still wants X, then one should not pray for X. It is good to recognize that one wants X, and even to mention that in conversation with God, but that isn't petitionary prayer.

Augustine's "Lord, grant me chastity and continence, but not yet" is surely not the perfection of prayer, taken literally. It might be taken non-literally, as an ironic acknowledgment of one's weakness. But literally to pray for what one knows God does not want shows disordered attachment to things and division in one's members.

 

4/12/2017 8:31 am  #6


Re: Ethics of this scenario

Greg wrote:

But if one knows or thinks that X is bad, yet one still wants X, then one should not pray for X. It is good to recognize that one wants X, and even to mention that in conversation with God, but that isn't petitionary prayer.

Augustine's "Lord, grant me chastity and continence, but not yet" is surely not the perfection of prayer, taken literally. It might be taken non-literally, as an ironic acknowledgment of one's weakness. But literally to pray for what one knows God does not want shows disordered attachment to things and division in one's members.

All true, and it's the reason my point on this was initially just an "on the other hand" at the end of a post, and why I advised "it's worth putting your feelings before God in prayer" rather than "yes, by all means pray for Donald Trump to be blasted to jelly". :D

 

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