Flipping the Coin To Know


This might be seen to be a straightforward technique.  We all have done this.  And it is a good way to make a decision.  But that is not what we are talking about here.  We are talking about knowing, or knowing with more surety.


The way we normally use the coin toss is making a decision between two equally acceptable option, or two options that are the only options with opposing positives and negatives.


We see a form of this in the Book of Acts in the Bible.  There a new apostle was  needed to be chosen to replace the fallen apostle Judas who had hanged himself

 judas hangs himself

after betraying Jesus.  

 judas betrayal

To fill the empty office of Judas, the other apostles had the qualifications for the replacement apostle given to them.  So they looked around to see who fit the qualifications.  Of their available men they found that two were equally qualified.  


What to do?  There was no better or worse choice, only a choice that had to be made.  How would they choose which one?


They did what was called the casting of lots.  We might think of this as a type of flipping of the coin.  Figuratively speaking, Matthias got the heads up.  So, he was chosen and appointed by the flip of a coin.


On the very rare occasion in United States there are elections that the two candidates get exactly the same number of votes, what do you do?  Flip the coin.  By the numbers they are equally qualified to win.  I have heard of this done two times.    


There were two choices, both equally acceptable.  In that context the flip made no difference in knowing, only in moving forward.  The coin toss in this type situation is not giving knowledge.  It establishes the way past the choice and into a moving on with life.  


Before the start of an American football game there is the flip of the coin.  In this case there are equal positives and negatives.  But someone has to kick off the ball.   So flip the coin.  

coin toss

This is not again about gaining knowledge but about moving on with the game.


That being said the flip of the coin can make known knowledge.  The flip of the coin can for example help you know what you really want.  This is the case where there are some negatives, and you must decide in an unequal choice situation.  


This is how you do this type of coin flip.  First you define the two choices.  Then you assign a yes to one of the choices on the head or tail.  Next, the coin is tossed.   

a toss 0f the coin

That sounds the same as a normal coin toss that we all know and use as at a football game.  But it is not.  


In this case you are not looking for the heads or tails at the end of the toss.  When the coin is in the air, you will think which way you want it to end up, heads or tail.  What, during the air time, you are wanting to come up is what you really want.  In that you come to know what you really want.  


When you do this, if the choice you wanted in the air is not what it ends up on the ground,  you choose what you wanted in the air time.  Why? … Because that is what you really want even if you are somewhat conflicted in your conscious thinking.  You go with what you really want in your heart.  


I had many years ago a woman come into my office when I was in the pulpit ministry.  She was seeking pastoral counseling about her options.   She had discovered that five years before her husband had strayed with her best friend.   


Talk about a bundle of emotions, she was in turmoil about what to do.  It was her best friend.  It was her otherwise faithful husband of 10 years and the father of her children.  He had slipped one time 5 years before, but it was with her best friend.  She did not know what to do, and she was too upset consciously to make a decision.  She was considering a divorce.  


I was concerned that her conscious and understandable emotion was clouding what she really wanted to do.  


I had no Biblical reason to tell her that a divorce would be wrong given the adultery.   And I never tell someone what to do or not to do.  I am not anyone’s judge.  I was more concerned with her knowing what she really wanted for herself.  In the storm of immediate emotion, real desires are often lost.  


I suggested the coin toss.  I told her like the case of Matthias we can decide this.  I assured her that she did not have to follow the results of the toss, but let us see.  


She decided heads would be divorce and tails would be continuing with the marriage.  I told her we would go outside for the toss.  She said, “Can’t we do it here.”  I shook my head, and we went outside.    


I flipped the coin extra extra high.  While her eyes went up following the spinning quarter,  I quickly and demandingly asked,  “What do you want,  HEADS or TAILS?”   Her eyes followed the coin.


I quickly walked to the two bit piece and stepped on it so she could not see the result.  I asked softly,  “When the coin was in the air, what did you want … heads or tails?”


“Tail,” she answered.


I explained to her that she had made known to herself what she really wanted.  Passed all the foggy emotions, she wanted to work out the marriage.  


My pastoral advice was clear.  It was not my advice; it was what she really wanted. I said, “Do not divorce him.  Not because I am telling you not to divorce, but because you really in your heart want to try and work through this and save your marriage.”    


Without looking at it, I picked up the coin and put it in my pocket.  She said what was it, “Head or tails?”  I answered, “The coin toss said tails.”
Yes, there was other pastoral counseling to do, but the coin toss let her and me know what she really wanted, and she walked that way.

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