The Trouble With ITCHes

His discovery that hypocrites had infiltrated the church did not, in the long run, diminish his love for the Lord, or the church - or all those hypocrites, for that matter. But he did have some confusing thoughts, being only a twelve-year-old boy. So he went to his pop, who was really well-versed on the ways of churches and the folks who peopled our little town. His pop explained it this way:

The apostle Paul instructs us to "forebear one another in love," but a lot of those folks who go to church aren't too keen on daily Bible-reading and therefore spend a lot of time talking about things they neither know nor understand. He told the boy that the Bible was a lot like the writing of some guy named Shakespeare. He said both of them were often-quoted but seldom read. The boy was still confused since he had been instructed around the family dinner table to never, ever, talk about anything you didn't know about. He asked his pop how come adults - especially the church people - could do that when he couldn't.

The boy's pop said, "Son, I really don't want to bore you with a sermon, but let me explain it this way. And what I'm going to tell you won't hurt you none or corrupt you in any way, but it will put you in a place a lot of those church people won't like.

"You see, there are two types of hypocrites. You have your old-time In-The-Church-Hypocrites. These are called ITCHes. Then you have the Other-Un-Churched-Hypocrites. These are called OUCHes.

"Now, over the years there has been a lot of debate as to which is worse - ITCHes or OUCHes. Well, I'm not going to try to answer which is worse - an ITCH or an OUCH - but I will tell you something about ITCHes. Like any other itch, an ITCH is usually in a position that's hard to scratch. Or it's in a position that would be embarrassing to scratch in public, if you know what I mean. And since most of the scratching done in church is done in public, it makes it plumb-near impossible to scratch an ITCH without making a big scene.

"A second thing about an ITCH is that you know exactly where it is. An ITCH cannot hide; its presence is painfully obvious.

"Another thing about an ITCH is if you do scratch it, you'll only make it worse. You might make it spread out to other places and pretty soon you'd have, not one ITCH, but a whole assortment of ITCHes just begging you to scratch some more. For example, boy, let's say you have this itch between your little toe and whatever that other toe next to it is called. Now, the temptation is to reach down and give it a good scratch. But as soon as you've done that, you've made it worse. In no time your whole foot will be burning and itching and you'll be hopelessly scratching the daylights out of it. And if it's something like poison ivy, then you're going to spread it to your arms and face and --- well, you get picture and it's not pretty is it?

"So, rule number one is: if you have an ITCH, don't scratch it. Sure, an ITCH can linger on for a long time, but if you leave it alone, at least, it won't spread. And that's what 'forbearing love' means -- when you have an ITCH, don't go digging your claws in it, thinking that'll make it better. It won't.

"Son, just leave it alone, perhaps apply a little love-balm and get on with your own business. And we'll get to the OUCHes some other day."

Rockerbilly, 3/2003