The Slippery Slope of RationalizationJul 29, 2022
A few weeks ago I was talking to a pastor who was minutes away from confessing to his wife his extra-marital affair. At one point in our conversation, I asked him “So were you planning on leaving your wife and pursing a long term relationship with this other woman?” His response surprised me in some ways, but didn’t surprise me in others. He said “I’ve thought about that possibility, but I don’t think I could go through with it because she isn’t a Christian.” Huh? What I heard him say was ‘Yea, I have convinced myself that cheating on my wife is okay, but I am such a moral person, I wouldn’t consider marrying a non-Christian.’ You see that is the power of rationalization.
Rationalizing is a slippery slope, and it doesn’t kill us all at once, it kills us an inch at a time. A small compromise here, a justification there, and little by little the convictions you once had fade away. Maybe you aren’t justifying an affair…but you are on the slippery slope of rationalizing other choices:
-withholding truth: You have accountability partners, and you have people with whom you are “doing life” and you have a spouse that you say you could tell anything to…but deep inside, you are withholding truth. Accountability is only as good as our willingness to be transparent, and you rationalize the truth you withhold as “not really telling a lie, and no one is really getting hurt.” So you withhold more and more and more of yourself.
-pornography: You know what pornography has done to other marriages, to other friends, to other families, to other church leaders…but you aren’t really “addicted” to pornography…and besides it doesn’t have the same affect on you that it does on other people. It won’t hurt your life, your marriage, your kids, your church, your ministry like it has other people.
-debt…You know you need to create a budget. You know you need to stop using credit cards. You know you need to share with your spouse how much debt you are in. But you make enough money to cover the minimum payments. You know you’ll be able to pay off the big screen in less than 90 days. You deserve the trip on Spring Break…you’ve worked hard. How could you not use your Macy’s card, it was an extra 15% off?
-drinking…Its not like you are an alcoholic. You can stop any time you want. You just like to have a good time. You just like to go out with the fellas. You just need to take the edge off. You know how to hold your liquor.
-flirting in the office…The sexual comments are common place at your office. The person you are flirting with knows you’re happily married. It is just friendly banter, it will never go any farther than that. You’re just charismatic, its part of your personality, its who you are…people think you’re charming.
The list could go on…the movies we watch, the music we listen to, the grudges we hold, the people we gossip about, the tempers we lose…we can justify it and explain it away.
It’s a small choice here, and a compromise there…and one morning we wake up and we have no idea how we drifted so far away from where we knew God was leading us. I have been there.
When we rationalize sin, we are telling the deepest of all lies…that is a lie to ourself.