Thursday, October 18, 2007

P4E.045 Sympathy for the Devil

"So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste"

Rolling Stones

Confession engenders sympathy. After my last post (which I send out as an e-mail to many), I got several sympathetic responses:

Empathy for my situation:
"Believe me, I understand what you are saying. If I were to go home and apologize to my wife for going to lunch with a female co-worker, she would say it is my guilty conscience talking and then accuse me of cheating. She then would hit me with a million questions about the situation in an attempt to prove (to herself) that I'm lying. I have lived this way for most of my married life."

Minimizing the offense:
"I don't see that one time as a big deal, though I know that one thing can lead to another."

Lamenting the expectations for men:
"It sucks that we as men have to think more about certain situations (i.e. you going out with your co-worker for a bite) but that's what we're called to do I guess, especially in a married situation."

It's an interesting phenomenon. Have you experienced it? While I appreciate the care that each one expresses in their sympathy, I have to wonder at my own response to it. My flesh desires to be consoled, to have my offense minimized, to have the pain removed. But, my spirit is concerned about how the offended (my wife, my co-worker, the LORD) would perceive the consolation and my acceptance of it. In my spirit I know that as I allow the sympathy in, it hinders my learning from my own offense.

Sometimes we rush to console, empathize, sympathize and minimize an offense, to try to assuage the resulting pain, when in reality the offender may benefit from, learn from, the offense and the resulting pain.

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
C.S. Lewis

Any thoughts?


  1. I know I'm the guilty party of minimizing your offense. A person knows what's in their heart; I think that's key.

    I have my own position on it, but believe you me, I do have to guard my heart when it comes to women or a woman other than my wife. Most of the time that's not an issue, but sometimes it is.

    I believe Scripture says, "Avoid every form of evil," not "Avoid every appearance of evil." If the latter were the case, then Jesus certainly failed. Yes, we're not Jesus, so maybe we can't do all he did here on his walk on earth. In a few things that's true (like directly forgive sins). But in the main, I'm not sure.

    Just the same we're broken. So I suppose a one time thing could be opening the door to more of the same which ends up being unhealthy. And if our previous track record is suspect, then we have no slack.

    At the same time I'm not a believer in playing close to the edge. And I do think we have to be slow in judging others whom we think could possibly be crossing the line in what we see. But in all those cases we should pray for them and the situation. And be ready to gently ask questions if need be.

    I may be defensive here, but blogdom is about expressing our minds and testing our thoughts. It could very well be that my comment on your post you refer to about meeting with the woman was unwise and unhelpful. I need to learn at my age as you well know (I think we're close in age). I have plenty to learn, of course.

  2. Love that song. Always have.

    A response? Well,one of the things that I believe is that every person has a set of issues unique to him or her. Only you know your past issues (which you hint at) and what you and your wife need to do.

    So I just received this as your story, and spent a moment or two thinking about my own integrity in this regard. Thanks for that.

    By the way, Welcome to the High Calling Blog Network. This is Gordon Atkinson. Marcus Goodyear and I are moderating or encouraging or something. Even we don't know what to call it yet. We've been flooded with requests, and we are currently sorting and trying to get everyone into a category on the High Calling Blog page. You'll hear more from me in comments as I read your work. For now bear with us as we try to get this thing started.

  3. Having the wisdom and discipline to stand by in these cases is surely difficult! After all, I think our own needs for acceptance sometimes get in the way.

  4. Yes, I agree that what one might have freedom to do, another might not. At the same time this is tricky, as my freedom practiced might hurt another who can't do so.

    The problem is that we live in a world in which we have to be exceedingly careful in this kind of thing. I hope I'm not coming across as one who thinks not.

    I'm not of the persuasion that I should regularly engage with a person of the opposite sex I cannot lawfully marry. Too many people have fallen, with all innocent intentions initially.

    I did debate Dan Brennan, still one of my blog links on this issue, on his blog. I just think in the words of Rich Mullins: "We're not as strong as we think we are," so we have to be very careful. Too many of us Christians have fallen in this area, either in our hearts or in actually doing it.

    So forgive me where I've erred here in having "sympathy for the devil". I certainly never mean for that.

  5. I should say as a rule, I never engage wiht the opposite sex like that. Of coursee to change a tire---it comes down to making a decision based on my belief of God's will revealed in Scripture.

  6. Ted - See my next post for a response. In short, it was not your heart that was in a bad was mine! Re: "appearance of evil" I think it depends on the version of Scripture you are using. NAS does say "appearance" and I think the Greek would back that up. Your thoughts are always helpful! Thank you for all your posts here. I am blessed!

    Gordon - Thanks! I notice that there is no catagory for "marriage" in The High Calling Bolgs. Maybe I can have my own category?

    LL - The thing that thwarts our attempts toward transparancy is that we all want to look good...

  7. It's such a difficult thing, isn't it, to try and discover what other people ought to do and ought not to do. I daresay there are plenty of men for whom a meal with a co-worker might not be a bad thing at all. And for others, this is a thing to be avoided.

    I think what I want to do is hear your story. I read about the meal. And understand that you are seeking righteousness and a healthy relationship. It is your zeal for seeking that attracts me.