Balancing Act

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)

Hate is such a strong word. Yes, evil is a pretty bad thing overall, and there’s no question that, in the long run, it’s probably not the best investment. But hate it? Couldn’t we just work on simple annoyance or something else a little less extreme? Hate has such a seriousness about it.

Besides, not all evil is created equal. There are, of course, the really evil evils nobody likes like murder or rap music or lukewarm coffee. But there are also the less evil evils that make life interesting. Where would our economy be without selfish ambition and greed? Hollywood would collapse without violence, profanity, and fornication. (Can you imagine a world of lame G-rated offerings like Devoted Housewives or Hicks in the City? Yeah, right. Shoot me now.) Lets face it: just about every cool thing in the world has a little evil in it. Scrub it clean and you’ve got B.O.R.I.N.G. Why throw out the baby with the bath water?

Besides, in the real world you can’t hate evil. If you tried you’d end up living in a cave somewhere all by yourself or walking around like a constipated Mother Superior with a big chip on your shoulder. (Trust me; I’ve met a few of her.) In the real world you have to at least negotiate with evil or you’re up a creek. Hating evil may have been possible way back before it wasn’t so indispensable. In fact, now days, nobody wants pure goodness. How droll. We want our goodness with a healthy dollop of experience mixed in. Without at least a touch of evil, the best the good would be is only fair. There might be a highway of righteousness somewhere up there in the sweet by and by, but on this planet it takes street smarts to survive. These days even Jesus carries a credit card.

So I’m saying that this “hate evil” thing is a bit of an overstatement. In his usual psychotic exuberance the Apostle Paul has taken a moderate bit of advice and torqued it into another one of his manic mandates. What he should have said is something like “Evil is a nice seasoning, but don’t go making a freaking meal out of it.” Not only that, the “cling to what is good” thing is so pansy. Cling is what toddlers do to their moms’ dresses. It’s what people do to keep from falling off cliffs. Clinging to anything has wimpiness written all over it. If you have to cling to what’s good, you’ve already lost the battle. You might as well let go and drop into the cesspool of evil where you can at least regain a little dignity.

The best approach is to seek a healthy balance of good and evil. This doesn’t mean a 50-50 deal. Anybody who wants to come out ahead in the eternal life deal can’t afford such close margins. I would suggest somewhere around 75-80% good with the balance made available for various benign evils, most of which are readily available. It’s better to enjoy a few smaller evils than, say, one or two big ones. The smaller ones are easier to manage and dispose of when necessary. Bigger evils take up a lot of room and are nearly impossible to get rid of cleanly. The smaller evils are also easier to rearrange.

I should know.

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One Response

  1. Of course, it was easier for Paul–he didn’t even have TV. He probably would have only watched the Tent and Garden channel.

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