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How Far Does Human Wisdom Go?

by Kelly Crawford

A reader brings up a challenging point: (read her comment here…) I think this will challenge all of us to answer some hard questions…I think we should.

Human Wisdom vs. Faith

My reply:

Ashley,

You make such an excellent point…the exercising of human wisdom versus walking by faith even when it doesn’t make sense is SUCH a difficult issue! I know many of my readers are in the “God gives us wisdom” camp when it comes to birth control. And frankly, I guess none of us can discern each circumstance.

But I lean more toward your thoughts on the issue…so much of what God calls His people to doesn’t make sense. I think I’ve brought this up before,but consider the birth of Moses…

His parents lived in some of the scariest, oppressive times in history. They already had “the perfect family” (a boy and a girl :-), and the king was ordering baby boys to be killed. Surely, if there were ever a time when a couple should be exercising wisdom over the womb, it would be now!

And yet, consider what an instrument Moses was in the course of human history! His mother had no idea what God was going to do. And yes, God could have raised up someone else had Moses not been born. But I think we can clearly see in this example and many others that our human wisdom is no wisdom at all! When it comes to the supernatural, miraculous, sacredness of life, we are quite presumptuous to think our limited wisdom extends into that realm.

And in discussing the “hardships” of pregnancy, consider the common sense approach with Paul…called to preach the gospel, but threatened to be put in jail and ultimately put to death if he continued. Common sense would say, “I thought God had called me to preach. Surely He did not mean for me to be beaten and endure such hardships! If He had really called me to this, it wouldn’t be so hard! If He had really called me to preach, why did He allow me to be put in jail? This doesn’t make sense!!”

What I’m asking here is, is hardship (or lack of it) the measure of whether something is God’s will or not?

Same thing with the missionary…let a missionary to a foreign country come and tell his American church what hardships he’s had to endure doing the work of God, and he is hailed as all the more godly for his endurance. But let a mother say that her varicose veins have flared up with this pregnancy and she is dubbed an imbecile for not preventing such hardships. (Please understand that this statement is NOT intended to undermine the incredible work and suffering of our missionaries!)

Does the hardship brought on by pregnancy mean that we should be stopping them? If so, then we must drastically reconsider what God’s will is in relation to human suffering.

Perhaps our common sense has earthly limitations; we should tread SO carefully on this ground!

And another thing came to my mind while thinking about this:

Push your brain a little bit and try to get what I’m saying. Isn’t there a difference between purposely doing something that might not be exercising common sense, and allowing something that is natural?

It’s one thing to exercise wisdom in an area where we are required to take some kind of action, or the thing in question will not happen (take a certain job; pursue a vocation, etc.). But the act of bearing children…it happens spontaneously, without our help (despite what some think!) We do not choose to have children. God ordains each life, and we either accept it, or stop it from happening.

Isn’t there a big difference there that we need to consider?

By the way, Gombajov Tribe sent an incredible story a while back that demonstrated the danger of human wisdom over the womb. (I wish I could find the link…it is somewhere in the archives!)

It is a case where every shred of common sense pleaded for the use of birth control. A sickly, dying mother (with a hole in her lung) whose body was wasting away and would certainly not sustain a pregnancy, spent one brief, night with her husband (probably her last) and became pregnant. The doctors were horrified (and shocked that she was even able to get pregnant). They announced her certain, rapid end.

And then the miracle…she began to improve. There was no explanation until they discovered that the little baby growing inside her was pushing up and closing the the hold in her lung that they had been unable to repair. By the time the baby was full-grown, her lung had completely healed, and a healthy mom gave birth to a healthy baby.

Praise God that she was saved FROM the common sense.

So, it is an intricate, delicate issue…or is it? What are your thoughts? These discussions help to sharpen my convictions, and really force me to pray, think and probe into the Scriptures. It is a good thing to be sharpened. Bear in mind, I struggle with this too! I don’t want to suffer anymore than the next person. It doesn’t make sense to me when I see women who really struggle with their pregnancies. But I want to keep pressing in on the truth, and have God refine me to trust Him more and more. That’s why I discuss these things!

Question the status quo.

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23 comments

Elizabeth November 25, 2007 - 1:52 pm

I rather suspected that my “fallow ground” argument would garner The Human Wisdom Award. 😉

My point was not to discredit a life lived by faith; nor to suggest that we rely upon our own understanding.

However, I do believe that if a husband and wife are “acknowledging the Lord in all their ways” then the Lord WILL “direct their path.”

It’s truly as simple as that.

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Leia November 25, 2007 - 5:52 pm

I believe more and more that “common sense” is in fact completely from Satan. No one in the “faith” chapter in Hebrews did ANYTHING noteworthy because of their ‘common sense.’ If they had, then they wouldn’t have been acting in _FAITH_ at all, but rather in _sense_.

My favorite example is Gideon. From the least of the least in Israel, came this leader who took out 120 companies of the enemy with 300 troops who had a torch in one hand (with a jug over it – still not sure how they managed that) and a trumpet in the other. I’d always thought they had a sword strapped on too (as do most artists who illustrate the scene), but the Bible doesn’t mention that at all.

This all came to my attention when I was living in Baghdad working with fellow believers as part of a humanitarian organization. Over and over, I was told that while it was safe to _live_ in Baghdad (as long as we stayed in our homes/offices), it wasn’t safe to go out and actually help the people there. “God gave us common sense for a reason.”

It didn’t make sense to me to say that God could protect us thus far and no farther. Since then, I’ve grown suspicious every time I’ve heard someone talk about something not making “common sense” and using it as a reason to not step out in faith.

To be clear, however, I’m only talking in terms of when you feel specifically called by God to do or not do something. In the case of a specific calling, then I believe that God will always protect and provide for you.

That includes children, jobs (I’ve got a BS and MS in aerospace engineering – and I chucked it all first to live and work overseas, and then to stay at home with my son), where and how you live – everything.

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Sarah L November 25, 2007 - 6:57 pm

My husband and I were discussing “common sense” this morning. We believe human wisdom doesn’t go that far. Across the board when we are trying to decide on something we pray and ask the Lord for HIS wisdom. You can’t go wrong if you’re being directed by Him!

God gave us a mind, but He also calls us to have our minds renewed. The fallen state that we are currently struggling with clouds our minds from seeing things God’s way. The spiritual mind is what we should be trying to “tap into.”

I guess those are some of my thoughts on this topic. 🙂

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Mrs. C November 25, 2007 - 9:44 pm

I just wanted to let you know I posted on my blog about the having children or not and how that ties in with trusting God. It was a really long post so I’ll just give the link:

http://homeschoolnetc.blogspot.com/2007/11/babies-are-not-ecologically-friendly.html

If it doesn’t work, just follow me back to my blog and scroll down. I guess I see a lot of the childless older women thing in my personal life, so I have more understanding on the other side of the argument. Sometimes it IS more selfish to have a child just to have one, than it is to not have them at all. (That does NOT mean that childlessness is “following God” necessarily, if you follow my argument… just that sometimes having a child when you’re not ready can be WORSE and I’m not going to play judge on who should be having babies this year LOL! Too many other things to do!!)

Bless you all richly!

Mrs. C

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Carmen November 25, 2007 - 9:46 pm

What about a woman who had a very difficult pregnancy and labor and told by doctors afterward that if she got pregnant again she would die (various health and medical issues here)? Does she chuck that advice and have another baby (and possibly die) or does she follow the doctors strong urging? I have a friend in that situation…I’m interested in some thoughts on this issue.

Hugs,
Carmen

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Gombojav Tribe November 26, 2007 - 2:32 am Reply
Mrs. Anna T November 26, 2007 - 10:05 am

Kelly, another great article. I always smile a little when I hear, “why don’t you just follow YOUR common sense?” – who said MY common sense is right on target more than the Bible is?!

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ladyofvirtue November 26, 2007 - 10:27 pm

Some excellent thoughts.

How many times have I heard the argument that I should be using my “brains” instead of putting God to a “foolish test” in having so many children?

Who would I put back?—not a one!

This is not a new age in this thinking about children–I was just reading a novel written about the turn of the 19th to the 10th century, and the same things were said about people who had lots of children–amazing!

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Kimi Harris November 28, 2007 - 7:46 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this delicate topic! I personally feel that the Bible isn’t crystal clear on this issue so there needs to be room for different families to make different choices.
We personally feel that we can still be relying on God’s wisdom and trusting Him while using birth control. We are at peace with that.
We have friends who are on both sides of this issue and we respect their individual opinions and convictions.
I do have a problem with our anti-children society. But that doesn’t mean that I feel no responsibility in regard to this issue.
It is very true that God can work miracles through people who weren’t supposed to live through another pregnancy or for a baby, like Moses, born in difficult times to have a great effect for the Kingdom.
On the other side, there are the woman who died (like the doctor said she would), and Moses was just one saved of the many babies who died.
This isn’t to try to put fear in anyone’s heart, but rather to say that we can’t expect that God will always save our lives, or our children’s. He promised to save our souls, but did not promise that we would live through a dangerous pregnancy.
I do know of a family who had a conviction not to use birth control and the woman was told that she couldn’t live through another pregnancy.
She didn’t.
Did God let them down? No. Like I said, God did not promise that all women who “trust in Him” will live through a pregnancy.

So, I feel that it is important for advocates of “no birth control” to realize that “trusting in God” in the way you understand it, does not mean that you trust God for good health, long lives, and healthy children. Rather it means that you trust that even if you die and your child to, you have done His will.

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Kimi Harris November 28, 2007 - 8:56 pm

One last thought, I think that the Bible is very clear that every day of our lives is preordained in His book of life (Psalm 119). But I still put on my seatbelt. Does that mean that I don’t trust God’s sovereighty? I hope not. I do try to follow “common sense”. That is always, of course, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

It it true that God will sometimes want us to do things that go against “common sense”, but that doesn’t mean that we need to disregard common sense altogether. Rather, we need to be trusting in God to give us wisdom and guidance through His Holy Spirit.

That’s just my two cents. 🙂

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Word Warrior November 28, 2007 - 10:40 pm

Very insightful point Kimi, about how relying on His sovereignty doesn’t guarantee good health or even for our lives to be spared in every circumstance.

This is one of those areas that is just hard to wrap our brains around…

Of course special circumstances (poor health etc.) in a couple’s fertility warrant careful searching and prayer. Again, I like to point out that the majority of people who exercise birth control do so just because they want to, with no reason other than they want to stop the blessing of children in their lives.

This is what the focus of my debates are meant to address.

I guess when I say that human wisdom is terribly feeble to be making decisions about preventing lives from existing, I’m referring to the “normal” reasons for stopping one’s fertility.

It’s interesting that every time we discuss birth control, the comments always gravitate toward the “what ifs”. I’m not opposed to discussing those, but my intent is to turn over the typical thought process of the typical situation. Does that make sense? Hope so!

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Carmen November 29, 2007 - 8:43 am

Kelly,

Makes sense to me. I just feel that some times people who are in the “children are a blessing…be fruitful and multiply” camp (like us) are not open to those out of the norm situations and tend to have a condeming attitude about those folk who have felt led (through doctors, prayer, etc.) to discontinue having babies. As much as we’d like everything to be black and white there are a lot of gray areas. I think this is one of them. Thanks for your thoughts.

Hugs,
Carmen

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Trina December 19, 2007 - 11:56 am

Wow, I just found this article linked from a site, from a site, etc… I’m SO glad I found it though! the statement you made “What I’m asking here is, is hardship (or lack of it) the measure of whether something is God’s will or not?” really blessed me. It applies in SO many areas of life, including some I’m struggling in myself… I’m going to add your blog to my links on my site so I can be sure to read more!

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Anonymous January 25, 2008 - 7:29 pm

Let me introduce myself. I am a Christian. I grew up raised in a good Christian home. I am married. I am a student studying various foreign languages. I plan to be a teacher someday for high school German. . . Unless my husband and I are lucky enough to be able to live in Europe someday as I’ve had the chance to do for a year, then I’ll teach there as well….maybe English. My husband is also a student. We have two wonderful cats. Ha ha.
I am not ready for children yet, I am young and still a student. I use birth control, and I believe it is a great thing for women today. My husband and I have the chance to go to school, get good careers, and someday be able to have children that we can care for and send to college someday. Yes, we both want children.
I just wish some people would stop stereotyping and criticizing so called “feminists”. I consider myself one, however abortion is not an option I would ever consider for myself, and I am a Christian. So “feminist” is not synonymous with baby hating, family hating, abortion lovers who are against women who choose not to enter the workforce.
Also, if using birth control and/or condoms if you believe birth control causes abortions (which it doesn’t, look it up sometime or ask a REAL doctor) helps prevent abortions and teenage parents and their children ending up in poverty, why make it so hard for women to have access to it? Again, I have lived in a country where sexuality is something that parents and children can talk openly about (unlike here) and birth control is easy to obtain and without people acting like you are a bad person for wanting to get it. Most teenagers there had never known anyone their age who had been pregnant, it was very rare. Very low teen birth rate. And contrary to popular belief here, the kids don’t run around and have lots of sex just because they have birth control access. The average age of first sexual intercourse is higher than here, and comes after being well educated on the matter.

Quite a bit of rambling on my part I guess, but I just wanted to get some of my thoughts out there. I am not a bad person, although I use birth control and am not ready to have children, I am a Christian, and I don’t think women who want to obtain birth control should have to go through any obstacles to get it. Our country will be a better place for women and children when quality health care and BC is available to anyone who wants it, regardless of whether or not they can afford it.

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Word Warrior January 25, 2008 - 10:07 pm

Anon.,

I’ve covered all these issues you’ve raised, in depth, in other posts. I would encourage you to study the rest of the blog a bit.

You say nothing here that I haven’t heard many times before (and used to believe myself), but a lot of it is heavily laced with wrong thinking and an anti-biblical world view.

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Anonymous January 26, 2008 - 4:11 pm

So basically, according to you, my views are wrong and yours are right, case closed.

I wasn’t trying to say I am against anything you say, I simply believe that sometimes what is God’s will for one is not his will for someone else.

That’s my opinion. I respect yours, I hope you can respect mine.

I don’t believe I am a bad person or a bad Christian for my husband and I choosing to wait a few years to get an education to have children we can then take care of well. And if God has given man the power to create a way for us to do that, then that’s wonderful. I believe it is God’s will that we have children when we are stable in good careers and can give our children good lives and education. And I have nothing against women who work outside of the home, and nothing against those who work inside the home. God bless all of you, whichever path you choose. I chose to pursue a teaching career so as to have most school holidays off to spend with my family. Also because I have a passion for foreign languages and other cultures and I want to share that with others, including my future children.
I also don’t believe we are bad people for choosing to live as equals. We serve each other. We cook dinner for each other, we rotate chores. We both work and study. And we’re happy. And us being happy and working together will affect how our children our raised, so I think this is a good thing.

I hope we can find equal ground someday, as we are both sisters in Christ, however we are also individual people with different ideas. We both serve the same God, and each believe we are following his path for us. I think that should be a wonderful thing.

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Word Warrior January 26, 2008 - 4:37 pm

Rest assured I’m not angry or condemning as I respond to you. I began this blog (it used to be called “The Birth Control Debate” to share my heart, to look at God’s heart toward children, and to cause people to question something most of us have just taken as a normal practice.

Some of your very arguments reveal that you may not be thinking carefully about the issue of BC. You said “if bc keeps young girls from getting pregnant and having abortions and ending up in poverty, why shouldn’t it be available?”

That’s a nice little panacea for the world. But think a little bit about that…

You are a Christian, so follow me here:

Premarital sex is sin.
Living in poverty is not.
So according to your reasoning, we should make it easier for people to sin so they won’t end up in poverty. From a liberal perspective, that sounds fine. But from God’s? I don’t think that flies.

If premarital sex is sin, and abortion is sin, why is one sin worse than the other? Why condone one sin to prevent another? That’s not how God works. That’s not the way we are to solve problems.

You mentioned delaying children so you and your husband can provide a “good life” for them. Since when does giving your children a good life involve two college degrees and a two-income family?

I rarely hear an excuse for delaying children that is not purely for selfish motives, if the truth could be uncovered.

Peter Jennings (I think it was him) wrote a book basically categorizing what history has revealed as the most responsible, valuable citizens in our countries history. Do you know which group of people it was? The children who grew up during the Depression.

Another study I read about concluded that the number one most positively influential thing in a person’s life was how much time the parent had available to spend with him. Money was low on the list, as was sports team involvement, music lessons, traveling, nice clothes, etc. TIME spells LOVE to a child. That’s the only real ingredient needed to raise successfull, well-adjusted children.

This is reply is already too long, and I haven’t scratched the surface on God’s heart toward children. I challenge you to search what the Scriptures say (it may be more than you think) and then question whether you think we should share the same view He does.

I have no intentions of “proving you wrong” or debating for debate’s sake. I simply want to challenge you, the way I was challenged before the Lord changed my thinking in this area.

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Anonymous January 26, 2008 - 4:49 pm

We are two different people, called to lead two different lives. I respect your views. Please respect mine. We are both Christians, I don’t want to be a hypocrite so I say what I believe. I do not however, believe that I am any less a Christian as you.

I’ll leave it at that.

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JC February 16, 2008 - 12:04 am

Wow, just stumbled on your blog and I love it! It really makes me think. I have six children, and when the last two were born, twins, I had six children ages six and under. The twins are now 17 months, and I will wean soon. My husband and I think that it would be very “wise” to use birth control for a while, so we can…. take a breath, I guess. But this post makes me really re-think that. Thank you so much! I need a mentor like you. Do you live in Colorado? 🙂

-Donna

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Word Warrior February 16, 2008 - 12:12 am

Glad you found the blog, Donna!

No, I don’t, but my brother does–Pagosa Springs! Guess that doesn’t help 😉

I know exactly what you mean…even with my strong convictions, every time a baby is born I have to take a deep breath and give it all to the Lord again (the timing). That’s what trust is all about…giving it over again and again!

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Katy March 28, 2008 - 2:14 pm

I am soooo on the fence about this issue…it is really difficult for me. I am 26 and have three children…ages 6 and under. I am thoroughly happy but would love to have more children. I HATED being pregnant….i was always sick and miserable…but want to do what God calls us to do…however..my husband says we are to be wise and he had a vasectomy. I support him….he makes the major household decisions…but I still feel sad at not being able to have more children…..but at the same time…feel maybe this IS best? I don’t know?
I have to admit that some days, I wonder if I am losing my sanity with my kids. I love them each more than they will ever know..but it keeps me busy. And sometimes I think if I did have more children….I would go crazy! LOL Part of me thinks God wanting us to be fruitful and multiply was said during a time when there weren’t 5 billion people on the Earth…know what I mean? My husband and I are both strong Christians and seek the Will of our Lord….but I just have NO idea what to think about this subject…plus..even if I DID feel like I wanted to continue having children….i don’t think my hubby would ever go in for a V-reversal…ya know? My email is on my blogger profile…any info or feedback would be sooo wonderful…thank you!

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authenticallyme March 29, 2008 - 1:09 pm

Ive read so much on this issue, and dont agree.

It is all in the motivation/intent. One can decide to not have children, and it not be from a position of weakness, and one can have a boatload, and not have intended to do so from a position of STRENGTH.

The real trick isnt merely studing scripture til your blue in the face about how God thinks children are blessings. it is gaining PERSONAL INTIMACY wioth God on what is right and congruent to his will for your life….and if people here beleived in that, they wouldnt have black and white conspiracies on the ‘right way to go’, and worse..kepp speaking about it. One can NOT have children and still NOT subscribe to the ‘children are a burden’ mentality.

I know people, including myself, who were not emotionally stable to have children. Thsi makes life very rough. this does not ensue i think i should not have had children…….they are here, it is now right for us. EVEN though i didnt do so for the right reasons. try recovering yourself from a bunch of crud daily and have the responsibilities of 4 kids and an addicted husband. idealogy isnt in Gods vocabulary anymore, since we sinned. it wont be as perfect as it could have been. Living in reality, and coming to this conclusion was harder for me than subscribing to this rule and that rule and turning practically the entire bible into black-and-white issues. thats the EASY way out. you never have to grow in wisdom….think for yourself, or out of the box. Instead, you remain stunted. Realize that just becasue you all embrace these truths doesnt give you the right to use it to shame others. Ive heard the argument time and time before that it is simply becasue you have to speak the truth that you say these ‘truths’. Well realize the implication and damage you can do, and it being intentional and deliberate just may have you placing yourselves in judgment. God also is for FREEDOM. IMO< the boundaries for which to exercise that freedom isnt in an small of a box as some people's here is. It is not your beliefs or convictions that are deadly. it is the manner in which they are stated and proposed and compared and everything else.....that makes it harmful for people. harmful, not hurtful.......i beleive we will all be hurt at times for not following God on things we know we should. Being harmed? different story. we do not have the right, in clear conscience, to harm another brother or sister in God, though we may hurt them by telling them the truth. it takes wisdom to know what that difference is. i think the line is crossed here.

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authenticallyme March 29, 2008 - 1:10 pm

Ive read so much on this issue, and dont agree.

It is all in the motivation/intent. One can decide to not have children, and it not be from a position of weakness, and one can have a boatload, and not have intended to do so from a position of STRENGTH.

The real trick isnt merely studing scripture til your blue in the face about how God thinks children are blessings. it is gaining PERSONAL INTIMACY wioth God on what is right and congruent to his will for your life….and if people here beleived in that, they wouldnt have black and white conspiracies on the ‘right way to go’, and worse..kepp speaking about it. One can NOT have children and still NOT subscribe to the ‘children are a burden’ mentality.

I know people, including myself, who were not emotionally stable to have children. Thsi makes life very rough. this does not ensue i think i should not have had children…….they are here, it is now right for us. EVEN though i didnt do so for the right reasons. try recovering yourself from a bunch of crud daily and have the responsibilities of 4 kids and an addicted husband. idealogy isnt in Gods vocabulary anymore, since we sinned. it wont be as perfect as it could have been. Living in reality, and coming to this conclusion was harder for me than subscribing to this rule and that rule and turning practically the entire bible into black-and-white issues. thats the EASY way out. you never have to grow in wisdom….think for yourself, or out of the box. Instead, you remain stunted. Realize that just becasue you all embrace these truths doesnt give you the right to use it to shame others. Ive heard the argument time and time before that it is simply becasue you have to speak the truth that you say these ‘truths’. Well realize the implication and damage you can do, and it being intentional and deliberate just may have you placing yourselves in judgment. God also is for FREEDOM. IMO< the boundaries for which to exercise that freedom isnt in an small of a box as some people's here is. It is not your beliefs or convictions that are deadly. it is the manner in which they are stated and proposed and compared and everything else.....that makes it harmful for people. harmful, not hurtful.......i beleive we will all be hurt at times for not following God on things we know we should. Being harmed? different story. we do not have the right, in clear conscience, to harm another brother or sister in God, though we may hurt them by telling them the truth. it takes wisdom to know what that difference is. i think the line is crossed here.

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