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Cost of Secrets


In The Amazing Spider-Man Peter Parker’s uncle has passed away at the hands of a armed robber. He is now being looked after by Aunt May. One day he turns up late at home and finds Aunt May waiting for him, when the following exchange takes place:
Aunt May: Where were you?
Peter Parker: I was out.
Aunt May: Did you get the eggs?
Peter Parker: Nope. Forgot the eggs! I'm gonna get it now.
Aunt May: No, you most certainly will not! Not at this hour!
[Peter turns away from his aunt]
Aunt May: Look at me, Peter? Take off the damn hood and look at me.
[Peter takes off his hood and turns to face his aunt, his face looking beat up]
Aunt May: Where do you go? Who does this to you?
Peter Parker: Please go to sleep, Aunt May.
Aunt May: Please tell me.
Peter Parker: Aunt May, please, please please go to sleep!
Aunt May: I can't sleep! Don't you understand? I can't sleep!
[there's a moment of silence]
Aunt May: Peter, listen to me. Secrets have a cost, they're not for free. Not now, not ever.
Aunt May does not know that her last statement is really a summary of Peter's life past, present and future.  It is the secrets of Peter's parents that have left him a boy stranded with deep emotions of loss and alienation. It is the secrets of Peter that prior to the current discourse left wondering at night culminating in Peter’s uncle dying at the hands of the armed robber. And of course later in the movie we see how his bid to keep yet another secret will cost him a relationship with his girlfriend.

Why do we keep secrets? All secrets are ultimately some form of safeguard against some perceived threat. Secrets promise us protection for ourselves or/and those we care about. This may be protection against the consequences of bad things we do for ourselves or against others. It may be protection against those who we may think may want to cause us, or those we love, harm independent of any fault or blame on our part.

It's therefore obvious that not all secrets are bad per se. Sometimes it is wise to keep a secret. For example, counselling or deep friendships cannot happen without confidentiality. Similarly, governments have a responsibility to protect society and in doing that it must keep certain “state secrets” about nuclear capability, intelligence and other things. It is part of their job description. But it is important to remember that even in these potentially justifiable contexts Aunt May’s assessment applies : secrets have a cost! There’s always something sacrificed to keep those secret activities going. For governments it is usually broken trust with its citizens or international allies. In counselling and deep friendships, it may be the heavy psychological burden of carrying those secrets on behalf of another - as the movie shows in parts. 

We should certainly be aware of the cost of secrets, especially since in most situations our secrets are simply a form of self reliance! Our secrets are usually a public management of private sins. Spouses who look at pornography or commit adultery or are compulsive gamblers keep such secrets to protect themselves and those they love from the shame of exposure. The alcoholic, food or computer game addict quietly goes on about her business because sharing such problems brings shame – and sometimes rejection and ridicule. No one wants to share their sin. We prefer to bevone casting the stone! The propensity within us is inherently geared towards relying on ourselves to manage our secret sins. 

So we find that secrecy is itself addictive. The more we sin the more secretive we become. How then do we face up to this addiction? The answer lies with affirming two seemingly contradictory statements. First, we must affirm that we do indeed have secrets. Our secrets are too many and our addiction to secrecy too deep to even begin to put up a fight! Too often we don’t even know when we are being secretive about our sins!

Secondly, we must affirm that we have no secrets! That is to say, in fact what we think are secrets is actually a devil’s lie! The Bible says we have no real secrets because God sees our secrets! He sees everything. No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account [Hebrews 4:13]. And more soberly, God has promised to “bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” [Ecclessiastes 12:14]. So in those moments we are tempted to believe the lie that no one can see us, we must remember that there's one who certainly does and his memory is super than the a super computer! 

With those two facts established there’s only One person we can turn to who reconciles this seeming contradiction : Jesus Christ. He has lived a perfect life that we can never love. And therefore qualifies as the full sacrifuce of all our dirty secrets sins. He has borne our private and public shame. Paul David Tripp recently tweeted wonderfully when he said, “If you are God’s child, you don't need to fear exposure. There’s nothing that hasn’t been covered by the blood of Jesus”. Amen!

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

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