“31"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' 32But I tell you…” (Matthew 5)
According to Douglas LaBier, a Psychotherapist with over 35 years experience, many people are suffering from an unknown and undiagnosed deficiency that is injuring their relationships and poisoning our world’s attempts to find peace. He calls the condition EDD. He goes on to say…
“People who suffer from EDD are unable to step outside themselves and tune in to what other people experience. That makes it a source of personal conflicts, of communication failure in intimate relationships, and of the adversarial attitudes -- even hatred -- among groups of people who differ in their beliefs, traditions or ways of life.”

What does EDD stand for? It’s short for “Empathy Deficit Disorder.” LaBier defines empathy as “what you feel when you enter the internal world of another person. Without abandoning your own perspective, you experience the other's emotions, conflicts or aspirations.” The key to empathy is a willingness to try seeing and feeling things from another person’s point of view. To, as the old saying goes, walk a mile in their shoes. It requires that we attempt to see more than our own perspective.

LaBier regularly sees clients who are unable to do this. As an example he points to the man who is unable to appreciate his wife’s need for him to spend time with his children because he “need(s) time for (his) sports activities on the weekends.”

Or the woman who says of American Muslims: “I think they're all terrorists, and would like to kill us all, anyway.” In each of these cases, a person is unwilling to step away from his or her point of view and imagine what life must be like for someone else. LaBier acknowledges that this is not a diagnosable illness. But he does want to draw our attention to what he sees as a common occurrence.

Today we’re going to be talking about a subject that is not suitable for anyone who might be suffering from EDD. It’s tempting to talk about things in the abstract and the theoretical, forgetting to ask ourselves, “How does this affect the lives of real people?” I want us to avoid that temptation today. I want us to be honest but not uncaring, truthful but not ruthless. Jesus demonstrated this ability with the people he encountered. He never seemed to forget that he was dealing with a real person and not just a set of ideas to be agreed with or argued against. Paul challenges us to “speak the truth” but he also reminds us to do so “in love.” That’s not always an easy tension to maintain. I hope we can do that this morning.
— Robert Lee