Sunday, December 6, 2015

MORAL ESCAPISM AND DEALING WITH GUILT





Nobody like being told that they are wrong, even less, that they have done wrong. Why? It’s shame and guilt provoking – painful feelings. It is easier to escape and to deem those churches causing this pain as “judgmental” or “repressive.”

Usually, the next stop is at the seeker-sensitive church. Although these churches still believe in that archaic, demeaning, and guilt-provoking concept of sin, they are usually less outspoken about it, not wanting to turn seekers away. They major in grace and minor in grace.

However, it eventually becomes clear that they too will provoke guilt, and so, on to the Unitarian Church. This church might not believe in the concept of objective sin, but they do believe in things like human responsibility and social justice. Their sermons are filled with “oughts” and “shoulds” and only convey a fluffy message of grace. They will tell you about how you are a good person. Meanwhile, you know that you flunk even their moral standards. Consequently, guilt and shame continue to cling to you like a ball and chain.

Next stop is to the local atheist association. There, you will hear the ultimate solution in guilt-reduction – that you are only a wet machine, determined by bio-chemical reactions. Therefore, you do not have freewill. But here’s the good news – any basis for guilt and shame is “eliminated.” After all, you could not have acted differently. Puff! No guilt.

However, this solution comes with a great price-tag. Psychologist James Hillman observes that we can deaden our lives through the way we interpret them:

·       We dull our lives by the way we conceive then… By accepting the idea that I am the effect of…hereditary and social forces, I reduce myself to a result. The more my life is accounted for by what already occurred in my chromosomes, by what my parents did or didn’t do, and by my early years now long past, the more my biography is the story of a victim. I am living a plot written by my genetic code, ancestral heredity, traumatic occasions, parental unconsciousness, societal accidents. (“The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling,” Random House, 6)

Perhaps there is no better way to dull our lives than to dismiss the fact that we are free moral agents. But what do we do about those life controlling feelings of guilt and shame? Simple! We receive the forgiveness of Christ, who died to pay the price for all of our sins – past, present, and future!


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