It was Francis Schaeffer, the theologian, who identified the "point of tension" in modern man's life. Schaeffer depicted this as a man on a sliding scale between two positions. On the left, the man with his presuppositions in the real world. On the right, the logical conclusions of that man (or woman's) presuppositions. Madness, Schaeffer suggested, was the end result of moving down the line toward one's conclusions after starting from wrong presuppositions.
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As President Clinton's poll numbers begin to shift, we may be observing Schaeffer's "point of tension" in action. Even some of the president's supporters are beginning to weaken, as they stare down into the abyss of their conclusions. These are people who have reached the "point of tension."
Those of us who do not support the president's behavior may rightfully ask of our friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family members who do:
- "Do you live your life in accordance with the values we see you defending, as reflected in the president's behavior?" And if you don't, "Why not?"
America today has only one MONICA; yet there are many Monicas. How do we, our families, and our friends live our lives with our Monicas? Suppose, for the sake of argument:
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- Your spouse drives the babysitter home before joining you in bed. How do you react upon learning that he or she stopped enroute for some "inappropriate behavior"?
- Are you comforted by your partner's assurance that -- according to his or her lawyerly definition -- it wasn't "sexual relations"?
- Is lying to you and the babysitter's parents to cover up the "inappropriate behavior" OK, since it's "all about sex"?
- What if the babysitter's parents call the police, and the prosecutor decides to press charges for rape or assault? Will you file a false affidavit? Will you swear that you accompanied your spouse and the babysitter home -- and that neither of you had sex with the babysitter?
- What if the babysitter kept the dress? What if tests on the stains reveal that both of you are lying? Should the prosecutor charge you both with perjury? Obstruction of justice? Accessory? How will you explain that your actions "don't rise to the level of a criminal offense"?
- At what point during your trial does the judge instruct the jury to ignore the perjury, or throw the case out of court entirely -- since it's "all about sex," anyway?
As a supporter of the values that enable the president to escape accountability for his behavior, please explain how these events taking place in your life would have no effect on your marriage, your children, or your friends. Look the babysitter's parents in the eye and tell them that it's a private matter between you, your spouse, and your god. Suggest that they drop their paternity lawsuit, since "everybody's doing it," anyway.
The "point of tension" is reached when men and women, one by one, realize that they cannot live their lives according to their presuppositions, because the end result of those presuppositions is a life that is unlivable.
Personal survival demands release from such madness. The Bible reminds us that "as a man thinketh, so he is." Whether by reading commentaries, listening to talk radio, or speaking with family and friends, increasing numbers of the president's supporters have begun to travel the line from their presuppositions about the president's behavior toward its logical conclusions. As they peer into the abyss of madness, they will seek release from the "point of tension."
The Clinton administration and the president's supporters have soared high, buoyed by the hot air of turbo-charged spin doctors. As Americans have begun to actually listen to them, the spin-doctors have started to choke on their own exhaust. As the president's "balloon of state" drifts toward a rocky landing, Democrats are looking for ballast they can safely dump overboard to avoid an unpleasant landing. Look out below!