Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hooking up. (or two things you need to know about temptation.)

Hooking up. (or two things you need to know about temptation.)

I had dinner last night with my friend Roscoe. He recently broke up with his fiancé and was telling me about a fancy meal he had at a restaurant. During the course of our conversation he mentioned that he had been chatting up a young lady. I asked him, was she pretty? This was his response:

“It doesn’t matter. If I’m going to mess up there is no girl too ugly. If I’m going to stay true, there is no girl too pretty.”

For about six months I have been trying to explain temptation and life and God and a whole slew of other topics. But here, in three simple sentences, Leroy laid it all out so perfectly. There were two particular things I took away from this dinner dialogue.

1. Temptation defies logic.
I was asking Roscoe a logic question. “Was she pretty?” This was definitely a superficial question but given Roscoe’s present and my past, it was a good question. We’ve both done some fairly stupid things to impress/manipulate/woo pretty girls. I thought that her hotness and Roscoe’s chance of messing up were correlated. But temptation doesn’t work that way.

Temptation defies all logic, rules, common sense and any other box we try to put it into. When we are faced with it though, it’s often easy to try to defeat it through the use of our head. We see some decision and think, “I should analyze this and decide what lies at stake.” But that’s exactly what temptation wants you to do, because in a battle fought on the playing field of logic, temptation always wins. Take for instance the whole Ted Haggard ordeal out in Colorado.

There is nothing logical about mortgaging your family, your career, your name and everything else you hold dear for a night’s vacation with a male prostitute. Ted Haggard isn’t dumb. He knew exactly what was at stake, but probably tried to fight temptation with logic. He probably thought, just like I think, “I’m smarter than temptation. I’ll analyze the situation. Weigh my options and make an informed decision.” But again, temptation throws that all out the window.

It was the same with Roscoe, only he knew it. He knew that the issue at hand was not how the girl in question looked. He knew it was the condition of his heart that mattered. Roscoe is an attractive, intelligent, down to earth guy that girls seem to like. And yet, a few months ago he went to a prostitute. He could have had a thousand different girls, but decided to pick one up and pay her. That is so illogical, but then, that’s temptation and that’s why he was able to so quickly rebuff my comment. He was speaking from experience, not theory.

2. Temptation is less about the situation than we think.
One of the issues that was exposed in the book I mentioned yesterday about the wildfire disaster was that the government was only half training firefighters. They were great at teaching firefighters about the conditions, the weather, the terrain, the erratic movements of fire, but they did not give them any training on how to make decisions. They in essence focused all their attention on the situation and none of their efforts on equipping the person that would be making the decision.

As author, Michael Useem, wrote: “To understand everything about fire behavior but little about human behavior is to have only half the decision equipment an incident commander requires, yet prior to 1994, that is precisely what government training practices had produced.”

I did the same thing with Roscoe. I asked him about the girl. I asked him to describe how big the fire was. What I should have done, is asked him about his heart. Instead of “was she pretty?” I should have said, “how do you feel about the whole thing?” I should have asked him where he was mentally, emotionally and spiritually in the middle of the conversation given that he just got out of an engagement.

But I didn’t and it makes me wonder where else in life do we do the same thing? A friend the other night said that it was refreshing when another guy said to him, “I am frustrated that even though I am married I still have the desire to sleep with other women.”

That statement struck me a little because you never really hear that. Or at least I didn’t in most of my men’s groups growing up. We heard about temptation and different situations to avoid, but on some level I feel like I was only getting half of the decision equipment I needed.

I’m still processing what to do with this idea, but I think it’s going to be one more thing I add to my plan to start a new men’s ministry. But that’s another post for another day.

The question I leave you with today is this:

Is the only thing standing between you and temptation, logic?

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