Hannah wanted to be a SAIL volunteer, an upperclassmen who mentors incoming Freshmen during orientation. She would be assigned a group of students and she would show them the ropes, so to speak, of high school. She loves her school and she's a great communicator, so it was a real shock when she was not chosen to participate. She spoke with her guidance counselor and discovered that she had received the approval of her teachers, but administration had "black-balled" her. They said that she had been involved in a bullying incident. She was heartbroken and now she knew first hand the cost of hanging out with the wrong crowd. The principal called it guilt by association. Maybe, she had not actually bullied anyone, but she was present when it was going on.
The dictionary defines guilt by association as the attribution of guilt (without proof) to individuals because the people they associate with are guilty.
So, are we responsible for the actions of another person? Are we guilty because we hang out with those who are guilty? Wikipedia calls it "association fallacy" or a red herring.
Jesus associated with sinners, but he lived a sinless life. Yet, even he was deemed guilty by the Pharisees because he ate with tax collectors and touched those who were unclean.
The more I ponder this query, the more I have come to realize, we are all guilty by association- our association to humankind. We are born into a sinful world, with a nature that is bent toward sin. We are like our father, Adam, who ate of the forbidden fruit and disobeyed God. We are sinners, all of us. "As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one:" Romans 3:10.
So maybe you haven't murdered anyone or robbed a bank, but you are guilty; guilty of not telling the whole truth, guilty of copying some one's work, or guilty of not being completely fair with everyone.
If we continue reading Romans 3, in verse 19, we find, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."
One day when we stand before God, we will have no excuse, we know in our own heart that we are guilty, that we deserve the just punishment for our sins. Here, we are all on level ground; everyone is the same. We have no excuse, all the world is guilty before God.
Have you come to realize that you are a sinner, helpless and hopeless to save yourself? If so, then you are at the right place. The place we all must come to. The place of forgiveness through Jesus Christ who gave his life as a ransom for all who are guilty by association. .