The Dark Side of Human Nature

Dec 17th, 2011 | By | Category: Ethics, Featured Issues

We live in a curious culture!  Scandals abound?the Penn State mess surrounding Jerry Sandusky; Bernie Madoff of a few years ago; the Wall Street follies that produced the collapse of Lehman brothers; pedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church; and multiple scandals among our political leaders.  (I choose to not even name those.)  But what we seem to ignore as a culture is that we all have the same problem?the Bible calls it sin.  As a people, we are really quite good at self-deception.  We inflate our own personal virtues, while are quite quick to sit in judgment of others who have failed.  We criticize others but refuse to hold the same mirror we use to evaluate up to our own lives.  In some ways, we have become a nation of victims.  The columnist David Brooks eloquently summarizes our situation in American culture:  ?In centuries past, people built moral systems that acknowledged this weakness.  These systems emphasized our sinfulness.  They reminded people of the evil within themselves.  Life was seen as an inner struggle against the selfish forces inside.  These vocabularies made people aware of how their weaknesses manifested themselves and how to exercise discipline over them.  These systems gave people categories with which to process savagery and scripts to follow when they confronted it.  They helped people make moral judgments and hold people responsible amid our frailties . . . (Now) we live in a society oriented around our inner wonderfulness.?  One of the clichés one used to hear when there was personal failure was ?there but by the grace of God go I.?  We do not hear that much anymore.  God is not in the picture much anymore in our culture.  Furthermore, if I have a problem, it really is someone else?s fault, not mine!  The problem of humanity is that we do have a dark side and we are all capable of horrific and despicable actions.  Our fundamental problem is spiritual and the fundamental solution is also spiritual?in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He cleanses the dark side and declares us righteous when we place our faith in Him and His finished work.  There is no other solution to our dark side.  This Christmas season, may we find refreshment and renewal in Him.

See Brooks?s essay in The Oregonian (16 November 2011). PRINT PDF

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