Monday, December 31, 2012

The "Delicate Sensibilities" of the Spirit?

I have been taught in Church that if I found myself in certain places, the Spirit would flee. I have lately heard a refutation to that concept, that the Spirit is strong enough to witness evil, and is therefore strong enough to stick around even if you find yourself in a place not conducive to His presence. This argument is often used to mock those who choose not to go certain places or engage certain types of entertainment.

And it does have a point. The Spirit is pretty tough. God sees ALL the depravity of the world. We have reason to believe that the God of heaven occasionally weeps over the sorrows and sins of man. But He can handle it. And if God can handle it, so can the Spirit.

But that misses the point.

The Spirit is strong. God can certainly handle all the depravity of the world, including whatever entertainment might portray, and in whatever evil place one might find oneself. But when we say "the Spirit flees" it doesn't mean the Spirit will run away, it means that our ability to commune with the Spirit will flee. Sure, simply finding oneself surrounded by evil doesn't do it. But making CHOICES to participate in evil certainly dulls our senses to the Spirit's promptings.

As a simplified example, walking into the bar to retrieve your drunk friend who has slipped off the wagon, you can still have the Spirit with you. Walking into a bar to enjoy the atmosphere of drinking, even if not drinking oneself is probably pushing the limits. Getting drunk and participating in raucous behavior certainly puts you past feeling the Spirit.

The nice thing about communicating with God is that most of the time, He is quick to respond when we seek His help, even if we've made bad choices mistakenly. Only if we have deliberately chosen to do things we know deep down aren't the best choices and we seek to rationalize those choices does our ability to receive the Spirit get damaged and take time to heal. It isn't the Spirit that has chosen to withdraw, we have.

Though, as every disciple comes to know at some point, there are times when you know the Spirit is there, but you're not getting clear answers, that's not exactly the same thing.

If we participate in entertainment and find the need to rationalize it away with, "a little doesn't hurt," or "the good outweighs the bad," or "it could be worse," we are putting up barriers between ourselves and the Spirit. Rather than asking if the Lord will allow us to go (because the answer is always yes and we know it,) we should be asking ourselves if the Lord WANTS us to go. Of course, if our motivation to rationalize is strong enough, we can always answer that in the affirmative, too. But underneath the rationalization, we will know. We will know we didn't make the choice the Lord would have wanted for us, and if we are unable to accept that we will find ourselves lashing out at and judging those who made the choices we know we should have made. Because we feel judged and found wanting.

There is no need to get defensive when others make certain choices if we truly KNOW that we are right before God in what we chose. But if we don't, if we're not entirely sure, we will find ourselves mocking, "pitying," or degrading those who choose differently than we did in an attempt to justify ourselves.

Such a loss of patience, long-suffering, and charity is how you know you have deafened yourself to the promptings of the Spirit on that matter.


  1. In general I agree with you. If I had my way I would avoid much entertainment. I pretty much find something objectionable in everything. I can't watch anything without knowing it is damaging. Kids shows are horrible with all the dishonesty, attitude, lack of respect, and disobedience.
    I can't live in a bubble. I can't keep a marriage going in a bubble. I can't raise my children in a bubble.
    There is a cost to not participating in society and I have felt that it is too high a cost to pay. For instance, I have had to choose between my children watching The Simpsons or ruining a great marriage by choosing to make it an issue over and over again or resenting it.
    So that is where I am coming from. I am always supportive of those around me and their standards.
    But in your example, how many of us who choose to not hang around where drinking happens ever have a drunk friend?

  2. "Sure, simply finding oneself surrounded by evil doesn't do it. But making CHOICES to participate in evil certainly dulls our senses to the Spirit's promptings"

    Spot on. Just the thought I had running through my head as I read the beginning paragraphs, and they YOU said it!


Unfortunately, I've found it necessary to screen comments. Unless your comment violates the commenting policy, it will show up as soon as I can approve it.

Popular Posts