In I Samuel we see King Saul spiraling downward into sin that begins with s ingle suspicious thought about David in 18:9. From there his sin moves from a thought to secret plotting about how he can end David’s life without anyone knowing he was responsible. He actually uses the old “send the boy to the front lines” approach made famous by David himself a few decades later. Finally, in 19:1 Saul speaks of his desire to murder David. Sin has so deceived him that he can speak openly about it and not feel any sense of shame.
Phil Johnson has a post this morning at Pyromaniacs titled “Honesty Without Truth?”. After I looked up “querulousness” I understood Phil’s point that the internet has become a place where Christians gather to tell there deepest and darkest secrets in the name of being honest. Phil says:
To the postmodern mind, “honesty” has come to mean the uninhibited venting of every egocentric feeling, every nagging doubt, every petty complaint, every subversive thought, and every negative passion. Maturity and discretion used to keep people from indiscriminately expressing certain potentially-destructive thoughts aloud, much less broadcasting them to the world.
This willingness to broadcast the worst about ourselves is tied among Christians today to the idea of confession. In a world where seminary students gather in circles to learn how to emote it shouldn’t surprise us that churches are filled with “accountability groups” where men and women can share all of their hurts and struggles in a “safe” place. The key word here is of course “safe” because we get to wallow in our honesty and no one had better take issue with anything we say. Just like Saul we have the ability to speak openly about sin without any sense of shame.
J. Budziszewski in his book, What We Can’t Not Know, says that our conscience functions as teacher, judge or executioner. The teacher mode is cautionary in that it alerts us to sin. The judge mode is accusatory in that it indicts us for sin we have committed. Finally, the executioner mode is avenging because “it punishes the soul who refuses to read the indictment.” Budziszewski places this need to “be honest” within the avenging mode of the conscience. The soul that has refused to hear the conscience is seeking relief through false confession. He writes:
In its broadcast mode, it is the staple of talk shows like “Jerry Springer,” which has featured guests with such edifying disclosures as “I married a horse.” But the tell-all never tells all; such confessions are always more or less dishonest. We may admit every detail of what we have done, except that it was wrong.
Saul’s sin was like a snowball gathering size and speed as it rolled down hill. Having allowed hate and jealousy to become the controlling thought in his mind he couldn’t help but speak of it. This is true of anyone. At some point, sin will consume their hearts to the point that they just can’t keep it in. Jesus said so in Luke 6:45:
“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
Today, these internet sites and “safe” accountability groups where everyone enages in honesty are simply granting a place where the heart can speak of its “evil treasure” without shame and without fear that there might be some confrontation with truth.