The idea of autonomy, that people have an inalienable right to pursue their own choices, is so highly valued that to question it brings accusations of judgementalism. In a day when intervening in someone’s life is no longer politically correct, it is difficult to know when to speak out to someone behaving in a way that is harming themselves or others.
St Paul wrote “If someone is overcome by some sin, you who are spiritual should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.” (Galatians 6:1)
As people who live in community we cannot act selfishly in ways that harm others without damaging that community. This also means that sometimes we have to speak out against the damaging choices of others. Yet we fear being branded as judgemental or interfering. We let many trapped in destructive attitudes or behaviours carry on unchallenged. Sometimes there is a need to intervene, in a non-judgemental and gracious way, motivated by compassion. It is an intervention motivated by the desire to promote good, avoid harm and to keep people on the right path. After all, who would let a friend who has been drinking get behind the wheel of their car?
By Rev Tony Musgreave, Church of the Nazarene. Representing Churches Together in Dewsbury. To contact CTiD please ring 01924 454750 or 457057.