These last few weeks have been particularly troublesome for those inclined to snoop into other people’s business. Over at the Department of Justice, the Attorney General of these United States, Eric Holder, finds himself under the microscope of congressional curiosity over his involvement, or lack thereof, in snooping through the phone records and email accounts of the Associated Press and Fox News’ James Rosen, respectively. Similarly, up in the great state of Massachusetts another case of snooping at Harvard College has left the dean there in such a position of weakness that she has resigned her post. What has both A.G. Eric Holder and dean Evelynn M. Hammonds have in common is their suspected invasion of the presumed privacy of others.
No matter the motivations underlying the snooping these two individuals engaged in the fact remains that the American populace (or a diminishing number of those who pay attention to such things) automatically bristles at the notion that the sanctity of someone’s privacy has been breached. It is a notion well woven into our national conscience and that of our organizing constitution. Both the 1st Amendment (“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;”) and the 4th Amendment (“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”) expressly protect the individual against inappropriate snooping of the sorts currently generating political heat.
Nevertheless, while the aforementioned national expectation of privacy is a right of the people of this particular republic, such is not an essential part of what it means to be a child of God. Perhaps David captured it best when he wrote the following:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24
Clearly, when it comes to God we are and ought to be an open book, no matter how embarrassing the secrets uncovered. Accountability is the core of our faith life. Without it we miss the opportunity for God’s unfailing grace to take root in us. With it we are reborn, renewed and restored to the order and condition God intended from the beginning.
The court of public and political opinion will determine ultimately the rightness or wrongness of Mr. Holder and Ms. Hammonds’ actions. But when it comes to the soul of the faithful, is there ever a wrong time to let God in to look around? Isn’t that the center of our response to Christ? If Christ truly be our Lord and Savior, then how can we retain our autonomy? Have we not already ceded our right to privacy? When we pledge our fealty to Christ Jesus, do we not, through our own will, authorize a warrant to exploit to the good a thorough exploration of our soul?
“Search me, O God, and know my heart,” declares the Psalmist. He is right. Let me be the first to wave my right to keep my heart closed off and private. I need His searching grace to make me whole. How about you?