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5/17/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Not My Fault

By DagoodS

We all cringe a bit when we see someone get caught for doing something wrong, and they begin to throw the blame on someone else.

“Not my Fault!”

Not to pick on her in particular, but Paris Hilton was just found guilty of probation violation. What did she say? “My Publicist didn’t inform me I was not able to drive.”

“Not my Fault!”

Anyone who has small children can watch this repartee occur in almost machine-gun like precision:

“She hit me!”
“He hit me first!”
“She called me a name!”
“He made a face at me!”
“She started it!”
“He started it!”

It seems as if our natural human tendency, upon being discovered in the wrong, is to defensively determine some other person or circumstance to blame, in order to alleviate (even if just a bit) the responsibility of the action. To spread the blame. To share the fault.

I was recently struck by how Christianity is able to do this with the Sin Nature. To spread the blame, just a bit, with the fact that this is simply who they are. They can’t help it. If you get nothing else out of this blog entry, please get this:

It is not a sin nature. It is you.

If you think about it, Christianity put together a pretty smart package. For 1000 years, Judaism placed the blame squarely on the humans. The Israelites failed to follow God. God punished them. The Israelites followed God’s laws—God rewarded them. One was held (sometimes immediately) accountable for one’s own actions.

It would seem it was decided that this wasn’t working. Humans were not getting better. Humans were not getting worse. The same problems that existed 1000 years earlier, continued to exist. Tradition was perpetuation of the sameness, with no apparent end in sight. And therefore the concept of “Grace” enters Stage Right. An idea that God will pardon you upon the far simpler action of belief, rather than this constant retribution/reconciliation cycle.

In one fell swoop, one can be sanctified, justified, rectified, glorified, purified and –fied in every good way possible. Almost seems too good to be true. And it was. Because these sanctified, justified, etc. people continued to sin. Exactly as before. As Paul says in Romans 7:14-15, 17-21
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do…. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
Paul rightly sees that even after the belief, after the justification, after the salvation, the person continues to struggle with moral decisions. There is no “quick fix.” No “magic bullet.”

Notice that last verse carefully, though. “It is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells in me”

“Not my fault.”

Oh what a convenient excuse to rest the blame. The person genuinely doesn’t want to sin. Of course they end up sinning anyway. They are genuinely repentant and will to never again. Of course they blow it. What is to blame—the person? Nope—it is that insidious sin nature within.

It is not a sin nature. It is you.

The Christian can claim it is the fault of Eve. Wicked, wicked Eve. Once she bit that fruit, all humanity, including the person, was doomed to inherit a sin nature. But for Eve…it would not be there. It is not their fault. Or they can blame biology. That they were “born into sin.” It is the fault of the human condition of existing in which each person is given, through their parent’s DNA this pernicious sin nature that no amount of praying, pleading and prying will ever remove.

If they are born with it, and cannot rid it (even with God’s intervention)—how are they totally to blame? We may as well “blame” them for breathing, or having a heartbeat!

This attitude was brought forcefully to home when I read a Christian blog raising that stale, oft-repeated observation that women must dress modestly in order to quiet the sex-crazed beast found in every heterosexual male on the planet. And as I was shifting through the familiar, “We are Men and can’t help it. It is who we are. We see a belly button and go ape” (you probably know the routine better than I) all I was hearing was “It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault.

I see Christians that blame the female for what she is wearing, but not the male. “Oh, he can’t help it, the ol’ horn dog! That’s just who he is.” wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. “You shouldn’t dress like that, because the boys will think you want sex.” Nothing about the boys being the problem—they have that sin nature. Can’t help it. Not their fault.

In fact, it is almost treated as a game. That the boys will think that way regardless of what a female wears (by the by, doesn’t this say more about where the focus should be made?) so cover up as much as possible to make the “game” as hard as possible, but they will be thinking those nasty thoughts regardless. ‘Cause that’s just who they are.

“Not my fault.”

I’ll let you in on the worst kept human secret of all time. If I see a woman in a bikini, my mind will wander for a moment. However, likewise, if I see a money-stuffed wallet on the ground with no one around, my mind will wander for a moment then, too. If I hear a particular juicy piece of gossip, my wind will wander.

Each of us is constantly barraged with opportunities to make moral decisions. Do I let that car in? Do I give money to that homeless person? Do I respond to this phone call in anger? Do I take the money and run? Do I share the gossip? And yes—do I initiate contact with the woman in the bikini in hopes of being unfaithful to my wife?

There is nothing spectacular about having a moment. An instant where, as creatures that have the ability to weigh moral consequences, we think, “What if I take this farther in that direction?” It is not having a moment that makes anyone special—it is what we DO with that moment.

A problem with Christianity is that it has become so sex-conscious that while it recognizes and attempts to deal with “moments” in a variety of other fields, when it comes to sex, it fears having that moment at all! Because while that moment may be justified with greed, or slander or hate, it is never, EVER to be allowed with sex. Even the thought is wrong.

Yet men recognize that is biologically impossible. That thought comes regardless. Rather than recognize it for a moment and deal with it—Christians must determine a way by which to never have that moment.

And the easiest thing to do is cover up the female. Make it their fault. The poor male is stuck with his sin nature—not his fault. The poor male must avoid this moment—not his fault. So impose restrictions on the female and if they fail their part, then the man is one-more step removed from fault.

“Not my fault. Is the sin nature. It is her fault.”

It is high time that Christianity realizes that it IS their fault. That, as a human, they need to start taking full and total responsibility for their actions. They need not feel shame, nor honor in it. All of us have regretted a moment where we wished we hadn’t done something we did, or didn’t do something we wish we had. Stop laying excuses on some “sin nature” and start owning up to being human!

It is also high time that Christian males realize those thoughts ARE going to come, it is not a matter of fault as much as a matter of biology, and to start dealing with them appropriately, rather than attempt to quash them by placing the blame on the female. While I don’t hold the Garden of Eden story to be historical in any fashion, it sure was spot on with Adam’s response as to his own decision—blame the woman!

It is not some biological inheritance of a sin nature, like your dad giving you a propensity for heart disease or your mother giving you a propensity for breast cancer, in which you are doing the best you can with the heredity you have—this is you! You make the decisions. You take the credit. You take the blame.

Please stop telling me you couldn’t help it because of something you have no control over. You do. You chose not to. That’s O.K.—it comes with the package of being human. But start taking responsibility for yourself, rather than surrender to the inevitability of laying the blame on something you claim you have no control over.

At best that is biology. At worst—it is an excuse.

6 comments:

Joe said...

Yep. And by making all sex evil, there can be no discussion of what responsible sex might be like. The same thing happens throughout the Xian ethic. Jealousy is wrong, just get rid of it. Sorry, but jealousy is real. Where do we get the tools to recognize it and deal with it effectively and responsibly in our relationships. Pick your sin. The Xian ethic deals with them all the same way.

The greatest transformative power comes when, rather than loathing such feelings and desires as inescapable sin, we look at them as normal human conditions and figure out how to satisfy them or manage them in ways that are not pathological. Xianity's ethical tool kit is bereft of such tools, and your identification of the "not my fault" mentality points to one of the leading causes for that poverty.

paul said...

Good one Dagoods.

I was just recently having this conversation with my Christian son. Take Romans 7 out of the bible, disguise the language a bit and any reasonable person will see that it promotes victim mentality.
I think this may be key to why people created God in the first place, to overcome their own humanity sans the hard work. Religion that touts a God, like the "personal" god of fundamental or evangelical Christianity sooner or later evicts the sincere "follower," leaving mostly wolves, sheep, and sincere people in transition. The sincere person really believes there is a God who will "rescue [them] from the body of death" spoken of in Romans 7, and when this doesn't acutally happen, that person realizes that we are, apparently, on our own.

Anonymous said...

I liked this article alot. Definately makes my mind spark. I can relate to some of the thought-processes involved in this phenomenon. The whole victom of sin/satan aspect as well as the blame game. But there is also a more dangerous effect as well. With so much emphasis on sex being wrong in the bible, it can lead to psycholigical issues.

This is especially true for teenagers who are experiencing sexual tendencies for the first time. When they don't recieve proper education of the subject outside of their religion, they can feel that something is wrong with them. That can lead to social disfunction or even suicide.

Anonymous said...

dagood it sounds like you are saying its not your fault

Anonymous said...

The reason why people got worse could be two reasons. First, assuming the New Testament is historically accurate, the Jews/Samaritans stopped carrying out their sentences for violations of the law. For example, the woman at the well was not stoned to death for having 5 husbands, and just living with someone at present. If the New Testament was made up later, then it seems people were making excuses for their sins. One of the most famous examples would be the woman taken in adultery in John 8:1. This passage is not in the oldest texts. Probably, someone committed adultery around 300 A.D. and needed a quick "get out of death" card to escape fanatics, so they made up this passage to protect themselves.
Indeed, Christianity tries to judge intents rather than actions. This would be great if humans could do this, but we can't. We can only judge actions, so personal responsibility in Christianity goes out the window.

A. Ford

Joe said...

Ah, but A. Ford, you forget about the thought cop that xianity implants in the minds of its subjects. Xian's can still avoid responsibility by blaming the devil for leading their eyes up and down and up and down a lovely young lady's thighs, but they don't get off free. The thought cop writes it up, it goes to trial and the sentence is guilt on the charge of being an accessory to lust.