In Praise of No

no No has fallen on hard times lately.

With more technology and more competition, we're saying yes to more to stay ahead.  FOMO flings us into more yesses than we can take. Where no once stood as a fence between work and life — no calls after 9, no texts at dinner — yes has taken over. Yes to the iPhone everywhere. Yes to one more email when the kids stand longing for father. Yes to the conversation with your forehead when I talk to you, and you talk to the internet as you say yes to other peoples' lives through likes and hearts and favorites and ... Hey, are you even listening to me?


No also once guarded our souls. No was the bulwark keeping us from self destruction. Human flourishing at stake, we said no to immorality, infidelity, and inch-by-inch compromises of our consciences. But the seductive yes has supplanted the stalwart no. Suffering follows.

We used to shout, "Yes!" to those who used no well. They were the heroes — the leaders. They were the ones who said no to so many good things so we could say yes to the right things.

Jesus was great at no. No to demonic temptation. No to law's demands for conformity. No to those who condemned the sinners. No to getting down off the cross as mockers jeered, disciples feared, and angels watched.

Today, one of the few places no is to be found is in the way respond to this man. In a terrible irony, the only no many of us are comfortable saying is to Jesus — the One who died to say yes to us.

So, here's to no. May this powerful word once more find its proper place in our lexicon. Wielded against all that is wrong, so we can say yes to all that is right.