I have often said to my wife, “I’m sorry Hon.”
“Sorry for what?” she comes back.
“For everything.” – meaning: I’m sorry for being alive, for being human, for doing what humans do.
Honestly, I have come a long way with my human-hood; come to grips with it. My early problems with it came as a result of a subtle philosophical mistake. I believed, and it was implied by what I could grasp as “normal,” that people are fundamentally good. That is, “normal people are good.”
My problem was, I was not good all the time, but liked being bad better. I really tried hard to be good, and because of this, I was guilty a lot. I was letting my conscience be my guide as I was taught to do. This philosophy led to a very low self-approval rating. Needless to say, I had a poor self-image, also defined by lay philosophers, myself being one.
Primo Levi, holocaust survivor, comments, “men of the same species that we belong have committed atrocities…” “We are all cut from the same cloth.” This observation, identifies us with all of mankind. But instead of softening our guilt, deepens humiliation. Exposure to something so despicable; it carves the heart negatively. Nevertheless, should we be so surprised?
There is a problem in expecting good, waiting for decency, anticipating sanity, or presuming one’s best effort. It reeks with the same fundamental error that sees men as having a “spark of good.” This basic lie adds shock to sin, bewilderment to evil, surprise to decadence; additional indignity to any sin, small or large. We are astounded at how bad we can be; scandalized by our deeds and, of course, others.
All of this amazement rips hearts grave, leaves us with shame-consciousness, or in the case of many holocaust survivors, with suicidal ideation. The disgrace of surviving while others died, because they fought more driven and brazen than others, lingered after. Embarrassment at the “animal” within, biting and devouring, clawing and scavenging, remained long after — The comment of many survivors.
I have grown to fear not as much for the sin-conscious people as for the sham-conscious or, let’s call them “the religious.” The atheist sees man as “man” and has less shock at what he finds. The religionites, however, impose a supposed goodness on us as if attainable in ourselves. They set us up for devilish accusation of the worst kind, they live for dishonor and scandal. Yes, in every choir loft is a potential illicit act, in every pew sits a lie, in every heart, deceit. They are watching.
“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, in sin did my mother conceive me,” David cried. What a relief to hear it. Perhaps, God’s solutions have been found. Folks, the explanations never were within us, though we lived in the deceit of believing so. We were, by no means, expected to be “good” without His amazing, saving grace. He was to be the leveler of the playing field of our existence; never flattened by our ill-resolved, futile, debilitating effort.
Friends, the perpetual, survival motivated, fear of admitting that I am indeed a “sinner” is what religion is — Endless trying, hoping for the best, positive thinking, good day bad day. “I thank God that I am not like the others,” O hypocrite, Pharisee, Judge. “Have mercy on me, I am a sinner,” this one came away justified!
We are not bragging about our sinship, neither are we denying it. We are simply sinners saved by grace. Aw, grace comes with relief, not for the religious, but for those who see life in its authentic array. The opposite of “religious” is not criminal, offender, outlaw or sinner. No, the opposite is non-religious; conscience-discarder, psychological self-lover, or weirded-out new-ager, etc. — All self-deluded mentally ill folks. Or…
In closing if only a holocaust/trauma survivor could get to know Christ. He could be softened from the shock of sinfulness, from the delusion of goodness, from the inability to function guilt free. He could bypass medication, alcoholism, drug addiction. The pain, the terribleness, the abuse, the horror, the hatred, could be helped for sure. If only he or she would see the blood of Christ, purging, cleansing, dealing with every sin across the board.
Thank you, dear Savior, for “now we are clean.” We came out of sin by God’s prescribed means. Redemption! There are no other ways. We are no longer phonies, liars, shocked, traumatized, or burnt out. We are saved. O death (religion), where is your sting? O, grave where is your victory? The sting of death (religion) is sin, and the power of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Love ya