“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
We’ve heard of the drug dealer cliché, “The first hit is free.” You have to take the first hit to begin the slow decline toward full blown addiction, and if vulnerability is detected the dealer may gladly get us started free of charge. Not too many people think that one little indulgence will end up that way.
We go through life making small moral compromises here and there. Maybe it’s something that seems too insignificant to get all worked up about. Things that we think don’t rise to the level of serious sin. Things we may joke about or shrug off.
And though I think it’s possible to become scrupulous to an unhealthy degree, it is important that we take account of those small compromises for they can be the devil’s delight.
There is a great episode from the ‘90’s television show Northern Exposure called “The Robe”. Shelly, the wife of a local bar owner, despises her husband’s old bathrobe. It looks hideous on him, but he adores it. So the devil comes to her as an engaging travelling salesman and tempts her to burn the robe while her husband is away. She almost does it, but then turns back at the last minute. When the devil angrily scolds her for not following through, Shelly replies: “Why did you go after me? I’m nobody.” So he says:
“You’re my bread and butter, Shelly. Look, say I get some corporate raider to suck up some company, turn 3,000 employees out on the street. Where’s the victory there? But if I can get somebody like you, pure of heart, to let her bumper stray over that white line just a little bit…You know that expression, ‘God is in the details’? Well, it’s a little bit like that for me.”
Is it really a big deal if I eat from that tree? I mean, it’s just a piece of fruit…