FAMILY WITH A TODDLER IN THE HOUSE KNOWS THAT ANYTHING touchable is fair game, that anything that can be pulled down for closer inspection has to be fastened or removed. Curiosity is every normal toddler’s middle name, and the trait follows us in varying degrees right through life.
Our native inquisitiveness notwithstanding, there are times when ignorance is better.
1. Fresh from a rough church board meeting, the typical pastor feels the urge to share the heated details with their spouse. But how good is that? Of course, information should not be withheld when the result would be to place one’s spouse in an awkward or embarrassing position. But my sense is that more often than not the imagination of the absent spouse has a tendency to magnify matters out of proportion to what actually occurred, and beyond what the reporting spouse probably intended. It’s not easy to convey to someone with a vested interest in you—a spouse, in this case—the exact emotional flavor of an encounter at a meeting where they were absent. The trick, then, is to know what to share, what not to share, and when—for the good of the absent spouse. When, following a difficult church board meeting, my wife would greet those who’d vehemently opposed me with the usual warmth and effervescence the following Sabbath, it confuses them and they’re like, How could she . . . ? In other words, it has a disarming effect. I saw this many times during our pastoral ministry.
2. Years ago when my name was in the hat for a certain office, a few members of the committee (some with an interest in the very position) got together for a preliminary confab. Later, a member of the group briefed me on what happened, and something he said surprised me. “They’re saying,” he said, “that you don’t listen.” I must not tell you what position I occupied at the time—lest I give away too much; but if you knew, you’d shake your head in surprise (as I did), wondering why anyone would have had reason to care about my listening skills—or even notice. I never learned who exactly had brought the accusation, but some of these colleagues are perhaps still around, laughing up a storm and shooting the breeze with me when we meet, and wondering how much I know. If they’re reading this, they can relax. I’m still in the dark; and I think I’m the better for it.
3. I was told that when my name came up as a candidate to join the Adventist Review, someone on the committee objected, claiming I’d written for a certain Adventist magazine they considered antiestablishment. Of course, if the claim were true (and it wasn’t), the issue should have been the content of what I wrote, and not the mere fact that I did. But the intent of associating my name with the particular publication was designed to damage. (As it turned out, others on the committee knew better.) How that internal committee intelligence came to me I cannot now remember; but whoever shared it did not mention the name of the accuser. For all I know, that person is probably now a good friend or supporter—or perhaps they’ve long since gone from the scene. Sometimes it’s good just to get on with your life, not knowing.
The basic point I’m making extends, of course, beyond the personal experiences cited. The toddler in us craves to know—what alcohol tastes like; what it’s like to get drunk; how it feels to get high on drugs; what it means to abandon propriety for a night on the town; etc. But a single experiment could spell tragedy. Eat this fruit, said the serpent to our first parents, “and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Craving knowledge, they took the bait; and look where it has landed us!
Sometimes ignorance is better.
Roy Adams is an associate editor of the Adventist Review.