HUMAN RATIONALIZATION and SPIRITUAL MALPRACTICE©

P.E.A.R.s™ Periodic Encouragement And Reminders

Human Rationalization and Spiritual Malpractice©

by

Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

Have you ever worked yourself into a tizzy over some little thing, or perhaps gone the other way and convinced yourself that whatever you were doing or not doing was acceptable conduct?

I know for me personally, my emotions or desires will frequently lead my mind in either of those directions if I don’t filter the process through a litmus test of God’s Reality or carefully compare the tint and color to His Palette of Truth.

This is very important, because the rationalization capabilities of the human mind (if left to its own devices and not Spiritually guided) will all too often produce color blind results.

Most all of us have heard and/or used the following rationalizations:

“Everybody’s doing it.”  (The “Aw, gee, Mom!” argument that somehow large numbers of participation (whether real or perceived) make it right.

“No harm, no foul.”  (Well, God didn’t strike me dead, so what I did must not have been too bad.)

“Live and let live.”  (He doesn’t bother me; I won’t bother him.)

“It’s not my place to say anything.”  (It’s not in my job description.)

Recently, I listened to a dialog of pros and cons between members of a professional listserv to which I belong through my estate planning law practice.  The question raised by one member was whether or not there could be legal consequences (maybe even criminal charges) brought against a client who married a third party just to obtain social security benefits as a “surviving spouse” when that party dies.  This marriage of convenience was being considered, because the inquiring member’s client and the client’s real “spouse” were homosexual and not entitled to social security surviving spouse benefits from one another.

Within a short time, the dialog grew into a discussion with several members participating and quickly became an argument as to the “rights” of homosexuals with one side of the argument being that since 4-10% of the population (the accuracy of those numbers was also debated) is now homosexual, they should be recognized and given the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples.  If that were to occur, the argument went, there would be no need to fabricate a marriage of convenience to obtain social security surviving “spouse” benefits.

One of the elements of that argument was the human rationalization that:  “Everybody’s doing it, so we should accept it and change our laws to accommodate it.”  (It’s the “Aw, gee, Mom, all my friends are doing it, so that makes it an okay thing to do” argument.)

Though as humans we may want to rationalize in that direction and reach out to others in love as a commendable action, we have to remember that God is the One who provides the rules for living.  For Him, the argument that “everyone’s doing it” or that the percentages of participation have increased will not cause Him to alter His holy ways.

Perhaps the two best known examples of this in the Bible are:  “Noah and the Ark” and “Sodom and Gomorrah” found in Genesis chapters 6 and 19, respectively.  Though virtually “everyone was doing it” (living a life style contrary to God’s teachings), the known world, except for Noah and his family, was destroyed in the first instance, and in the second, the entire population of two cities and the surrounding valleys, except for Lot’s family, were destroyed because of their iniquities.

In the latter, even Abraham used human rationalization during his conversation with God seeking to save those cities if just a few righteous men could be found (beginning with fifty and moving down to ten).  Though God said he would spare the cities under those circumstances, it was not for the sake of the multitudes violating His laws, but for a few who might be found striving to live as God required.

A few years back (possibly even ten or more), I read an article in the Los Angeles Times arguing that the Bible needed to be re-written in order to be more tolerant of mankind’s society and culture.  The writer’s position was actually one step past rationalization.  Knowing that the Bible could not in any way be reasoned or interpreted as approval or acceptance of what the world has become, his solution was for mankind to write their own rules.  

In other words, if the Creator and Ruler of the universe doesn’t suit your fancy, then declare and reason that you have the right and ability to be the creator and rule maker yourself.   Such is perhaps man’s most egregious rationalization.

The second rationalization phrase set forth early in this P.E.A.R. is closely related to the first and need not be addressed separately.  However, the third and fourth present a slightly different twist to the human mind’s rationalization process – somewhat like the flip side of the same coin.  They’re similar, yet different from the first two.

“Live and let live.”  (He doesn’t bother me; I won’t bother him.)

“It’s not my place to say anything.”  (It’s not in my job description.)

The reasoning of the mind on these is basically this:  if we can’t change something into what we want it to be, just ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist.  Don’t get involved.

When it comes to the Bible and God’s teachings, this is what I call Spiritual Malpractice.

Ken Sande in his book “The Peace Maker” puts it this way.

Any doctor who diagnoses cancer but fails to report it to a patient would be guilty of malpractice.  After all, a patient can be properly treated only after the disease has been identified.  Sin [all disobedience of God] works in the same way; left undiagnosed and untreated, it causes grief and spiritual deterioration – leading ultimately to death [eternal separation from God].

Every believer and follower of Christ is charged or entrusted (somewhat like a doctor) with a biblical Hippocratic oath of ethical conduct to save as many in the world from the disease of sin as they possibly can.  It is part of their Christian job description whether they want to admit it or not.  If they remain silent, they commit Spiritual malpractice and will be held accountable for their inaction on judgment day.

* * * * *

Avoiding the errors of human rationalization (trying to make Reality into something we’re willing to accept) rather than honoring God’s Word, or stepping forward to be ambassadors of Christ and proclaimers of His Kingdom are not easy to do.  Both will bring consternation from the world and charges of being intolerant, judgmental and self righteous.

So, what’s the answer?

Do it anyway, because that’s what God commands.  Believers are to be watchmen and to warn those who are dying and if the believer fails to do so, the blood of those who could have been saved but were not will be on that believer’s hands.  (Ezekiel 3:16-21). 

Even exposing the darkness (speaking against conduct occurring contrary to the light of God’s Word) is an affirmative requirement.  If action is not taken, a tacit acceptance or approval may be inferred.  (Eph. 5:7-16)

Always speak the truth in love, however, with the goal of salvation not condemnation.  Those who hear what you say may still take offense, and you may even feel that you bumbled the opportunity.  Yet, the Holy Spirit will use it for good and perhaps be the beginning of a seed that leads to Life.

The bottom line is this: Whatever you do, don’t engage in human rationalization or Spiritual malpractice when it comes to God’s Word and commandments.  Be the messenger and take the ridicule just as Christ did as that is your purpose on this earth.

Have a great week!  (and to my family, love Dad)

Bob Alderman

083105 – updated 8/26/08

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