Wednesday, 23 June 2010

I could have taken ecstasy but I didn't

Meadow Soprano throws the mother of all parties at her grandmother's abandoned house. 100s of people turn up. The house get's trashed, she ends up drunk and the police have to get called to break it all up. All in all I think it's fair to say that it's the kind of thing most parents would consider to be somewhat out of order.

However, on being confronted about this she comes out with the following line 'I could have taken ecstasy but I didn't'. It strikes me what a weak defence this is. Just because you could have done something arguably worse that doesn't mean that what you did was o.k. In some ways that is irrelevant to the seriousness of what she has done.

Yet how often we use the same defence. So when I think an unkind thought about someone I say to myself 'What's your problem? I could have said something unkind to them but I didn't'. Or when I say something horrible to my wife I say to myself 'What's your problem? I could have physically attacked her but I didn't'. Or maybe when I lie a bit on my tax return I say to myself 'What's your problem I could have lied about loads of things but I didn't'. The problem with this defence is that much like Meadow's it is weak. It's true that I could have done those things which I didn't but that in no ways excuses the unkind thought, the horrible speech or the lie on my tax return. The truth is that I shouldn't have been thinking unkind thoughts, speaking horribly or lying/stealing at all!

We wouldn't expect a burglar to get away with it if his defence was simply that he could have killed the guy he was burgling but he didn't. The fact you didn't do something worse is irrelevant. How can a non-action make up for an action. We may not be as bad as we could be but that is no defence for how bad we are. When we realise this we have no option but to turn to Jesus for forgiveness!

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