I’m writing in Bernice Yau’s room, using a Performa 636CD.
This is what I wrote yesterday.
Alright, I gots to write again, so here we go.
What I said about the Web page thing being a pride thing; that was
totally about myself. I mean, I was disturbed about why I was writing
this. And why the heck I was making it public. And I concluded that it
was all pride; anything else I said was B.S. And I still think so. It’s
totally pride. So why am I still doing it? Who knows. But I want to be as
honest as possible. But in any case, I was referring totally to myself.
I’ll repeat what I said before:
I’m really disturbed by that. Why the heck am I doing this? In any case,
I refuse to give the impression like my thoughts are somehow cool or
challenging or thought-provoking or profound. As Eli would say, “They’re
absurd.” All right? Absurd.
And in any case, I still believe what I said. It’s a pride thing, at
least partly, and I care at least a little what other people say.
Honestly. If it was totally for myself, I wouldn’t be writing this, which
basically is a response to someone else’s thoughts, simply because I
wouldn’t care. But I’ll be honest, I do care, and I am writing this. It
might have been between me and God before, like in Fall quarter when I,
as the pioneer, consistently did this even though I knew that no one knew
about it, but as soon as I start responding to people, it’s not just me
and God anymore. At least for me.
I’m afraid of two things: the things I said yesterday were misunderstood,
and two, that I didn’t really mean everything I wrote yesterday. The
thing is this: I read something that really provoked thought within me,
and I wanted to respond. I wasn’t sure whether I should post it but Dave Hong said you have to so I did. Maybe
I shouldn’t have. But oh well.
When I talk about openness, I’m wasn’t just responding to one thing,
though that was part of it. I was talking about something I see in
society in general. Seriously. And like I said, I started thinking about
it more when my dorm did Crossing the Line. That’s when it all started.
And I thought back then that it was wrong, because that event, the one
held in Serra dorm, was basically asking people to reveal personal things
about themselves to people they don’t know well. Just wanton openness,
as if openness for its own sake was a good thing. And I disagreed with
that. Just for clarification, this is what I was referring to when I
talked about openness to everyone. OK?
Am I wrong about what I said about openness in general? That it has lead
to some weird things? Like what I said about what happened in the liberal
branch of Presbyterians. (What’s it called? Presbyterian USA? I forget).
A general desire for openness, honesty in what actually happens almost
led to a condoning of it. That freaks me out.
Again, I agree that a certain degree of openness is good. But I still
think a problem today is over openness, not under openness. If there are
some things that aren’t discussed openly (are there any still in this day
and age?) I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.
Alright, let’s get specific. Temptations of the flesh. Should we discuss
it? You know, I can’t say. To God, yeah, but to others? Who am I to say?
It’s probably in the hands of the individual’s judgment. But I will make
this bold claim – such topics should NEVER be discussed
between a male and female. Ever. And you might disagree with me, but this
is one thing I’m holding on to. Temptations of the flesh should never be
discussed between male and female, no matter how sincere the desire for
mutual encouragement. It just shouldn’t be done.
Galatians 6:1-2 talks about helping a person caught in sin, and how we
should gently restore them. It doesn’t say, however, that we should
necessarily reveal all our sins, but instead that if we are aware of
others’ sins, we should help them gently.
The verse also has a warning, which shouldn’t be taken lightly – “watch
yourself or you also may be tempted.” This is a pretty serious thing. And
I take it really seriously because I feel like I understand it too well.
Like in the past, some of my friends have shared their deepest struggles
with me. Which, you know, isn’t bad. But I have found that with certain
things, it causes me to stumble, by virtue of making me think about it a
lot, and being tempted by the same thoughts. IT HAPPENED TO ME. I guess I
can only speak for myself, but this openness with certain issues was a
curse, as it really did cause me to be tempted and stumble.
And the depressing thing is that in the end, the problem wasn’t solved.
It didn’t end, and my friend continued to struggle, even getting worse,
and I had to struggle with temptation myself. The net result was that a
forbidden subject wasn’t forbidden anymore – our openness dulled the
wrongness of it, and that was a curse. We didn’t edify each other at all,
in the end, at least, even though I think our intentions were all right.
This really depressed me for a long time, and it’s made a lasting impact
on me, and maybe that helps you understand why I feel the way I feel. It
might be biased, as it’s just a personal experience, but honestly, I
totally understand why Galatians 6:2 carries that warning, because it’s true.
Again, sharing is good, but sharing the wrong things with wrong people, I
still think is bad. Like guys and girls; there’s a lot they shouldn’t
share. And other things too. I don’t doubt that the intentions are good,
but honestly, I don’t think that’s good enough. The intentions
must be right, but I think there has to more – like
knowing that the intended result will occur.
What happened to me – we wanted to encourage one another, but our
openness in the end didn’t have that effect. And I think that happens a
lot. A lot of times when we share our personal struggles, wanting
encouragement, in the end we don’t really try to really overcome it, but
instead hang on to it. Like a person who’s suffered from child-abuse. A
few might feel the need to announce their circumstances to everyone, so
it’s almost like their identity. OK, you’re right, this doesn’t really
happen to much except with some public figures but let’s look at them.
Have they really been healed by their openness? Or does it cause them to
keep clinging on to it?
Is healing really our intention? I mean, is that for real? If our
openness causes us to falsely conclude that everyone
struggles with these things, are we really asking for healing? I don’t
know, this might be totally wrong, but if we say everyone struggles with
it, it almost sounds to me like we’re saying, no one has overcome it. And
if no one, not a single one has overcome, how can we ask that we overcome
it? How can we truly ask for recovery if deep down we do not believe that
anyone is truly, deeply recovered?
Knowing that others have gone through the same thing is encouraging. But
only if it is a testimony of God’s power – they went through it and by
the grace of Jesus were able to overcome. I mean, we talk about yeah,
Jesus understands because He’s gone through it Himself. But that’s not
where the real encouragement comes from. The encouragement comes from
knowing that He went through it, and He overcame it. And that through
Him, we can overcome as well. Knowing that others struggle in itself
isn’t encouraging. But sharing how God is working in each others’ lives
is. Or so I think.
Again, I might be totally wrong, but it seems like there is a risk in
openness of not having a sincere attitude of wanting healing, repentance,
recovery. It is possible, grant me this, that it can lead to people
concluding that everyone struggles with it. And if
everyone struggles with it, how can we overcome? Does
this make any sense? Maybe not. But I think it’s at least possible.
So then what is also possible is that it’s not recovery that happens, but
it just becomes a more open subject. Maybe just among close friends, but
whatever, it just becomes a more open subject. And again, I think it’s
possible that though it’s not intended, it does lead to tolerance. Not
for the sin, but for the struggle. Struggling will happen, but man, I
have to have faith that God is making us more perfect. If I didn’t have
that, I wouldn’t be able to deal with the struggles at all.
You gotta understand where I’m coming from. I can talk theoretically and
theologically all I want. But theoretical, shmeoretical – this hits me
very personally, because it’s something that has happened and is
happening – to me and to people around me, so I see. I mean, given it’s a
biased view, but it’s still a view – something I’ve actually seen happen,
so even if you reject everything I say (like most sane human beings, cf
Eddie Ahn), let this at least serve as a warning.
Someone was talking about Romans, how the Spirit will lead us in prayer
even if we don’t totally understand the struggles others are going
through. I think that’s totally true. So then do we need
to totally understand the struggles that everyone is going through?
Obviously not. I remember being struck by this – like sometimes I have
prayed with like my leaders and stuff, and when we start to share, there
was this one youth pastor I had who would sometimes stop someone and say
“We don’t need to know too much.” And I think he was right. God will
honor our prayer without us knowing everything.
James does say confess our sins to each other and pray for each other.
But my bold claim is that this doesn’t necessarily mean confess all our
sins to each other.
Again, you gotta understand where I’m coming from. I went to this
Catholic school, which happens to be the finest high school in the
nation, considerably superior to both Andover and Lawrenceville, and by
the way Pablo Morales went there, and wore a Bellarmine Swimming T-Shirt
in front of an international audience right before swimming his
gold-medal winning race. But I digress.
I went to a Catholic school, and I tell, you, the Catholics took this
confessing sins thing seriously. I mean, it’s a requisite that Catholics
go to confession and confess all their sins to the priest, who intercedes
on their behalf. This intercession thing is a big deal to Catholics. They
have this whole system of priests and patron saints and all this to take
care of it. Even Mary’s involved, but hey that’s a whole nuther can of beans.
They followed the command to the letter. And is it a good thing? I think
the intention was good. But it got messed up. Somehow along the way they
got confused and people thought they had to confess to a priest, a man,
and could not confess to God themselves. They got caught up in this idea
that they had to confess all their sins, no exceptions, and that only the
priest could pray for their sins. Now, I might be wrong, but I think the
technical Catholic doctrine doesn’t mean this: I think they would agree
that we must confess sin to God ourselves and that God alone forgives,
but the confessing to the priest became a big deal. So much so that
forgiveness came through the priest after confession, though of course,
God alone forgives.
I think it was pretty good that this system was rejected by Protestants.
My personal opinion, of course. Because like a lot of things, the intent
was right on, but it just didn’t work out the way it was meant to, and
had bad side effects.
Like this one. Having gone to a Catholic school, I have a lot of Catholic
friends. I’m not gonna get into the are Catholics Christian thing (I’ll
just say this: there are Catholic Christians) but there were certain
things about Catholicism that disturbed me. One thing was confession. It
didn’t lead to healing, or repentance, but in the end numbed some people
to sin. I have seen that once they break through the difficulty of saying
it, it doesn’t become as hard anymore. To the point that the sin becomes
no big deal, and they figure as long as they confess it, it’s cool. I
don’t think they ever condone the sin, but they don’t really ask God to
overcome it either.
You understand what I’m saying? How openness even with good intentions
can be bad? I’m wary about interpreting that James passage as saying
confess all your sins to each other, even if it’s only before one man,
because it risks getting lost in the letter of the law, and even
though the spirit is in the right place, bad things can happen.
I’m still saying there are certain things that should almost never be
discussed, and confessed only to God. About the James passage: like all
the New Testament passages, the stress is on the encouragement, not on
the sharing. Tell me if I’m wrong about this, but the N.T. goes on and on
most about encouragement, unity, building each other up, and much less
about sharing struggles. It’s always saying help those who are struggling
– the burden is on the helping. About sharing struggles, I could be
wrong, but it’s never mentioned on its own without the context of
encouragement by the body. The stress isn’t on the sharing struggles or
sharing at all, but on the encouragement by the body.
Ultimately, we should cast our burdens unto Jesus alone, who cares for
us. That’s what we all believe, right? And it’s my bold, and personal
(just me) claim that there are some burdens we should share with Jesus
alone. Just my opinion.
How does being open with our sin to each other free us from guilt? James
talks about healing in chapter 5. OK, I might be wrong, but he was
writing about some odd stuff. Like he talks about physical healing right
before. I guess back then, physical sickness was sometimes considered a
result of sin (like that guy who’s lame so they ask Jesus who’s fault it
was, his parents’ sin or his own). So James says if you’re sick, call the
elders, and they’ll pray and he’ll be healed; if he’s sinned, he’ll be
forgiven. So then when he says therefore confess your sins to each other
and pray for each other that you may be healed,” what does healed mean?
Don’t crucify me if I say that it might talk about physical healing,
since that’s what he just talked about, right?
But more generally, I think most people would agree that this healing
means healing from the debilitating effects of sin. Which I guess you
could say guilt is part of. But the healing doesn’t come from the
sharing, but from the forgiveness of the sin, the overcoming of it. But
are we really asking for forgiveness all the time when we share our
deepest personal struggles? How can we say that and also say that
everyone struggles with it? How can we believe that God will help us
overcome if no one else can? Are we really asking to overcome, to be
healed, or are we simply asking for prayer and fellowship in our
struggles without true faith in God’s power to overcome it?
Guilt is bad, and I guess it separates us from God. But we overcome that
guilt by the healing of the effects of sin; and this does not come from
sharing our struggles in itself, but by the forgiveness of God that comes
through Jesus Christ alone. Not sharing in itself. That’s fallacious, and
implies that the only was to escape our guilt is by sharing with others.
That we must confess to others to be freed from our guilt gets back to
the Catholic thing that bothers me. Then forgiveness comes (although only
by God) through the priest to whom we confess. After all, forgiveness is
the only way by which we are freed from out guilt, right?
That guilt may drag us down from spiritual things above is true, but that
the only way to escape it is by sharing with others isn’t, I think.
Most importantly, let me say this. Ignore everything I just wrote. I say
that because, who the heck do I think I am? The Bible Answer Man or
something? I have neither the wisdom nor the training to speak about
things like this with authority. I wrote what I think because of what’s
happened to me, what I see going on around me, and what makes sense to
me. But that’s only good enough for a warning. So if anyone really cares
and has made it this far, I feel like I’ve betrayed you in presenting my
thoughts which you might take as right or wrong as if I actually know
something. Hogwash. In any case, ignore it
all and talk to your leaders, who know better than I do. What they say is
far more important than what I say, I think. And I cannot encourage
anyone to do or not do something without a solid Biblical foundation on
something that isn’t really clear to me. So I feel bad, and like I
shouldn’t say let’s do this or that, you know what I’m saying? Ask your
pastor about it, if you really care. But you probably don’t.
I’m never doing anything like this again. Tomorrow it’s back to the good
old my minds of fall quarter.