A lot of mainstream Christians seem to get their undies in a bunch over the fact that the Watchtower, in their New World Translation of the Bible, uses the phrase “undeserved kindness” in place of “grace.”
Now, if you ask those same Christians to please straighten-out their undergarments and rationally discuss their beef, they’ll go on to say something like: “Grace means far more than undeserved kindness.” If you pursue the matter further, asking what “grace” really means, they’ll say something like: “It is God’s love for us: giving us a gift when we’ve done nothing to deserve it.” Uh, okay: so in other words, what they’re saying is that “grace” means “undeserved gift/love/ or kindness.” I honestly can’t see why they’re upset.
Maybe it’s the fact that the NWT brings out the meaning of “grace” for us to see in all of its plain ugliness. Mainstream Christians prefer to hide behind the elegant word “grace” so they can pretend it means something more than it really does: that there’s some esoteric profundity inherent in “grace” that they are at a loss to define.
But here’s the thing: “undeserved kindness” (or “grace,” if you prefer) is a really odd thing when you think about it. This is because “kindness” has nothing at all to do with deserving. When I am kind (which I hope is my normal mode of behavior) I don’t stop to think: “Now wait a minute; does this person I’m about to be kind to deserve my kindness?” To me that’s such a foreign thought that the question is laughable.
It would be like asking myself, before filling my cat’s water-bowl: “Does Sashy [the name of one of the cats who lives with me] deserve this water?” Huh?! Deserving has nothing to do with it. Whether Sashy has been purring like a princess on my lap for the past half-hour or has just finished puking up a juicy hairball on the same, I’m going to give her fresh water.
Acts of kindness are not conditional on how “deserving” the recipient is. Otherwise, it is not an act of kindness but rather a payback of some sort.
As most Christians (including the Witnesses) interpret the Bible, their god shows “undeserved kindness” when he “saves” us from his own wrath (be that hell-fire or simple non-existence.) But I contend that it’s not really “kindness” to refrain from torturing or killing someone; it is merely refraining from being a psychopath or a moral monster.
The whole concept of “grace” / “undeserved kindness” shows just how messed up Christian ethics really are. Their god is considered “kind” because he sacrificed his son in order to forgive us for something we didn’t do (but rather for something he unjustly blames us for that our supposed ancestors did before they knew right from wrong!) This “kindness” is considered “undeserved” because we supposedly deserve bad treatment at this god’s hands for having been born.
In effect, Christianity wants us to assume that we’re worthless sinners, and when we learn of their god’s “undeserved kindness” in not punishing us for existing, Christians evidently expect us to drop to our knees in gratitude! But I tend to assume a different posture, commonly referred to as ROFLMAO. And that’s the kindest thing I can say on this subject, which is more than it deserves.