Let’s consider what the disciples had experienced in the last 24-48 hours prior to falling asleep after being asked to pray for Jesus in his greatest hour of emotional anguish. They traveled to a new city, prepared the Passover meal in someone else’s home (never easy to cook in someone else’s kitchen), had a meal heavy with carbs and wine, went to a quiet, dark place at an hour when they would usually have already been asleep, and shut their eyes to pray.
I’m not sure why, but it seems to me that the ideas of pursuing healthiness and pursuing holiness have become conceptual rivals. In conversations I am a part of too often, at least in my opinion, those who advocate most strongly for pursuing holiness view an emphasis on healthiness as a code-language for compromise and those who advocate most strongly for pursuing healthiness view an emphasis on holiness as simplistic and stigmatizing.
I would like to start this reflection by affirming the concerns of both sides. There are times when “what is good for me” (a form of emphasizing healthiness) gives license to moral compromise. Similarly, there are times when “but that’s wrong” (a form of emphasizing holiness) assumes that knowing the destination is the same as navigating a journey.
My point in this article is not to unravel this knot. We live in a broken world where sometimes apparent contradictions are tensions to be navigated as much as moral riddles to be solved. The “best available choice” sometimes lives at the intersection of moral principles we wish didn’t compete with one another. I’ll leave nuancing tensions that exist in this realm to ethicists.