Innocence is OK
I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. Romans 16:19
When I used to give the sex education talk to the junior high boys at my kids school, I always tried to be sensible about the content. I didn’t want to be naive about their knowledge, but I also didn’t want to introduce them to topics they didn’t need to know about. A previous well-meaning teacher had once introduced my kids to the concept of bestiality at a young age, which was absurd, so I tried to be discerning in the content of my talk. I didn’t want to be the first person to teach those boys that pornography was available with the click of a button, but I also didn’t want to ignore the reality that they probably already knew that.
Ignorance and innocence are sometimes OK. When I first did outpatient treatment and found myself surrounded by other addicts, I learned things about drug use that I never needed to know. I’d hear of a new way to consume a drug, or learn about a new drug, and my interest would be piqued. Hmmm . . . I’d like to try that. There are a lot of things in my head that I’d have been better off if I’d never have known. Knowledge about evil led me to a lot of experience with evil. Innocence and ignorance would have been a far healthier option.
This was Paul’s message in today’s passage. In it, he told his audience that he wanted them to know and experience what is good and to remain ignorant and innocent of evil. Paul wasn’t suggesting we put our collective heads in the sand, pretending evil doesn’t exist. He was simply warning us against learning and experiencing those things which turn us from God.
Knowledge isn’t evil, but personal knowledge of evil often leads to experiencing evil. I’m sure many pastors have been ensnared in pornography while “researching” pornography online for a sermon. As men, many of us can remember the first time we were exposed to porn. There are some things we don’t need to know, much less experience.
The lesson for me, is that I need to be careful about what I allow to enter my eyes and my brain. I need to be harshly selective with what TV shows and movies I watch. Sometimes I must put down the remote and pick up my Bible. I need to fill my mind with that which is healthy and avoid that which is self-destructive. If I want to know authentic life, I must be wise in what is good and innocent of what is evil.