“[…]Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life.”
- Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale from the novel THE SCARLET LETTER
In recent days, I have found myself engrossed in the fictional life of the Reverend Aurthur Dimmesdale. A minister in adultery with the, later, impregnated Hester Prynne. Throughout the story she is ridiculed for her sin never revealing the father of the child during the ridicule. Dimmesdale, in his meticulous way, wants her to reveal his sin even though he cannot do it himself. His convictions weighed on him so relentlessly causing his health to diminish, ultimately killing him. So many times have I wanted to scream out the pain of my deepest, darkest sin but could not. Not to anyone I know. All abominable sins aside, no one would confess the murder or lust in their heart toward the people they encounter daily. It is human nature to feel shame. No Christian person would stand in door way of their church and declare their atrocious acts of lust or hate. Humanity makes it nearly impossible!
I deeply admire the character of Dimmesdale. He, in my opinion, represented a true Christian in deep sin. He hid his sin (as any proud person would) but did not allow the convictions of the sin to escape his conscience. It sounds easy to do, but it is not. Especially when one commits a specific sin repeatedly, it becomes routine and overlooked. One begins to rationalize why they do what they do and do not look at it anymore with righteousness and conviction, but instead regard it as truth rather than the lie it always was.
People get this sort of idea in their mind about suffering for Christ as if it has to be an array of physical beatings, martyrdom, or ridicule; but what about taking hold of the flesh, fighting it and then losing? What about the kind of suffering no one can see but you? The suffering dealt with in the deepest, darkest, most dank corners of your heart. How anyone can put on a Sunday face for so long with no spiritual infirmities is far beyond me! You may not be getting battery acid thrown in your face in the middle of a jungle somewhere or being called a “Jesus fag” at school. However, if you are dealing with pain of regret, asking God daily to forgive you of this sin or that sin, already knowing he throws it out as far as the east is to the west, you are suffering. No amount of apologies, no pool of Bethesda, no laying of hands could take away the guilt if you wallow in it. You will be like Dimmesdale; nauseated to death.
I realize now the approach to secret sin Dimmesdale made was truly the death of him in more ways than just the physical. I admire his convictions and character as I have said earlier but his approach was shameful in the eyes of God. To not allow God to build in him a stronger foundation was wrong. In times of sowing evil, when the harvest of rotten fruit is ready for the picking, just pick the fruit. There is no use standing around staring at it. Pick it. It’s yours.
“…God sent Nathan to David. Note, Though God may suffer his people to fall into sin, he will not suffer them to lie still in it.”
- Matthew Henry