Standards are for inspiration not condemnation
“They are so degraded.” We may think or even speak like this about those who don’t follow scriptural standards of morality. Bysuch a judgmental attitude of condemnation, we often defeat the essential purpose of the scriptures: to compassionately elevate everyone according to their level.
A healthy way to understand scriptural standards is to visualize them as the standards in a school from kindergarten to graduation. The purpose of the standards is to provide the students a framework for inspiration and progression step-by-step towards the highest standard.
Similarly, the scriptures aim to elevate everyone and so delineate not just one standard, but a progression of standards. We may be following one scriptural standard by abstaining from meat-eating or sexual promiscuity, but are we following the highest scriptural standard by always thinking about Krishna? Unlikely.
Advanced devotees living at higher scriptural standard usually encourage and inspire us. That’s why we look forward to their association. If instead of encouraging us they treated us condescendingly, we would feel uninspired, even irritated, wouldn’t we? Naturally. Then won’t those at lower moral standards than us feel similarly if we disdain them? Naturally.
They will become alienated not just from us but even from the scriptures. Such alienation is all the more probable due to today’s intellectual and cultural ethos.
Intellectually, most people don’t get the philosophical education that scriptural standards of morality pave the way for everyone to attain the supreme spiritual happiness. Being uninformed, they often see morality as subjective and optional.
Culturally, the glamorization of liberalism impels them towards loose moral standards.
In such an intellectual and cultural environment, if we are to share scriptural wisdom effectively, we need to adopt the guideline of the Bhagavad-gita (03.26): do not disturb the minds of others; encourage, engage and elevate them according to their level.
“So as not to disrupt the minds of ignorant men attached to the fruitive results of prescribed duties, a learned person should not induce them to stop work. Rather, by working in the spirit of devotion, he should engage them in all sorts of activities [for the gradual development of Krishna consciousness].”