If you do well

Self-esteem, at least from a psychological standpoint, is one’s evaluation of their sense of worth.  This evaluation of ourselves is predicated to a great degree by those things we believe about ourselves and are not immune from our emotions.  People who experience emotional lows typically have a sense of low self-esteem.  They seem to go hand in hand.

Low self-esteem can cause and/or contribute to clinical depression, aberrant behavior, and criminal acts.  So it is an issue we should not take lightly, but the way it is treated differs depending upon one’s presuppositions regarding human nature.

Sigmund Freud is considered by many to be the father of modern psychoanalysis.  He believed man’s psyche was made of three parts: the id, ego, and super-ego.  The id functions on the “pleasure principle”, that is, it is impulsively driven to satisfy the person’s desires.  The super-ego is the subconscious part of the psyche that has been inculcated with society’s moral standards of right and wrong.  The ego is the conscious part of man’s psyche, the seat of man’s reason and will.

Freud taught that when the super-ego sought to inhibit the id in its pursuit of pleasure, psychological pressure was placed on the ego.  If the individual’s ego had not developed sufficient coping mechanisms, this pressure on the ego would manifest in mental problems or a psychosis.  Feeling bad about one’s self leads to poor decisions and behavior, which in turn results iin further psychosis, etcetera.  It is a downward spiral.

This brand of psychoanalysis gave rise to the medical model.  The various forms of psychosis were considered a disease.  The sufferer was considered a patient needing medication and treatment to cure him.  Since the patient’s psychosis sprang from an over socialized subconscious his problems were allogenic, caused by others.  The patient is a victim of others expectations, a victim of his conscience.

Genesis means beginning.  There are a lot of firsts in the first book of the Bible.  It gives us the story of the first man and woman, the first sin, and of course the first murder.  It also has the first counseling session.  It is recorded in the fourth chapter of Genesis verses three through eight.  Here’s a summary.

Cain and Abel bring offerings to God, but God accepts Abel’s and rejects Cain’s.  This makes Cain angry.  In verse seven is God’s counsel to Cain, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

We do not know exactly why Cain’s offering was unacceptable, but it is understood that he knew what he needed to do to correct his mistake when God told him, “If you do well.”  We also know that by doing the right thing his attitude would change, “will not your countenance be lifted up?”  He had a choice to make, either master his sin or let sin master him.

In his book Competent to Counsel, Dr. Jay E. Adams espouses the biblical model.  He says “mental illness” is a misnomer.  He goes on to point out that barring a physiological problem that affects the brain such as “brain damage, tumors, gene inheritance, glandular or chemical disorders,” mental illness is an invalid term.

This perspective leads to a completely different set of conclusions.  A person’s behavior dictates his self-esteem.  He is not a patient that needs medication or treatment, but a sinner who needs corrective counseling and forgiveness.  His problems are autogenic, self inflicted, because he has violated his conscience and God’s expectation of doing what is right.

Consider Cain.  He ignores the counsel of God.  Instead of correcting his mistake and offering a proper sacrifice, he murders his brother in a jealous rage.  When God confronts him about his behavior and pronounces judgment on it, Cain cries out, “My punishment is too great to bear (Genesis 4:13)!”  Mental stress arises from one’s inability to cope with the consequences of his or her sinful actions.  When we do right we feel good about ourselves.  Repentance and forgiveness unlocks the door to an upward spiral.

Our self-esteem is dictated by our behavior.  I am not aware of anyone who lives in accord with biblical truth that is seeing a psychiatrist.  You can live at peace with both God and man. You can have a healthy self-esteem, if you do well.


The Expendables

This January 22, 2013, is the fortieth anniversary of the landmark United States Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.  It is estimated that more than fifty-five million babies had been aborted since Roe was decided.  This figure is more than nine times the number of Jewish men, women and children that died in the Nazi-inspired Holocaust.  This is why some refer to abortion as the American Holocaust.

The basic philosophy underlining the Court’s decision is the fetus is not legally considered a person until birth and as a result lacks legal protection under the U. S. Constitution.  Advances in medical science have made huge strides in neo-natal care challenging the limits of ex utero viability and the advent of sonograms have put a decidedly human face on the developing baby in the womb.  For these reasons, the incidence of abortion is on the decline.  But a new threat looms.

Two professors, Francesca Minerva at the University of Melbourne and Oxford University and Alberto Giubilini of the University of Milan, published a paper last year in the Journal of Medical Ethics promoting “after-birth abortion.”  Among the many arguments put forth by Minerva and Giubilini are “both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons” and “killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be… including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

You read that right.  While the authors make a strong argument for the killing of a newborn with a birth defect, they also make it quite clear it should be permissible to kill a healthy newborn if “the well-being of the family is at risk.”  Since a newborn is not “morally relevant” and the newborn cannot “be said to have aims,” it is not an “actual person” and has no right to life.  If you think this is an isolated opinion, keep reading.

Consider Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University who has said “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person.”  He is essentially in agreement with Minerva and Giubilini.  But this is the same Peter Singer who in an article entitled Heavy Petting advocated sex with animals is ethically permissible as long as it was mutually enjoyed (I know what you are thinking, but that is his position).  I know there is a difference between abortion and bestiality.  I only mention Singer’s views on bestiality to show you where his ethical mindset is.

The fact that Minerva and Giubilini’s article appeared in an “international peer-reviewed journal” is of some concern.  It is indicative of an apparent ongoing debate among medical professionals, and the publishers considered it a worthy topic for public discussion.  The issue of infanticide, killing infants, had been practiced in ancient times.  Until the recent publication, I thought infanticide was a matter in the ancient past.  But the issue has resurfaced and is being given serious consideration among some supposed “ethicists.”  An issue I thought had been relegated to a more benighted period of human history has been reborn and reached the light of day.

Early in the debate about abortion opponents argued that legalizing the practice would place our nation on a “slippery slope” of moral decay taking us in a direction and at a speed we would not be able to control.  We are no longer on that slippery slope.  These “professors of ethics” are suggesting we take a flying leap from the brink of common decency and human dignity into a free fall in an immoral abyss.

In Psalm 139:16 we read, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”  When commenting on this passage of Scripture I see two important points.  Life is sacred because it is a gift from God, and life is precious because it is measured.  I once thought that those who held a different perspective did not believe in God.  I now think I may be wrong; they may believe in God, they just think they are Him.

I guess I always knew there were those who viewed human life in such cold, utilitarian terms.  But, I never thought such views would be given a public hearing, or serious consideration.  I never thought newborns would be considered expendable.

It is coming

It was about four years ago.  Barack Obama had been elected president of the United States and asked Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration.  Warren had hosted both presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, separately in televised interviews from the church he founded in 1980, Saddleback Church.  Warren authored the Purpose Driven Life which “is a blue print for Christian living in the 21st century” and has sold millions, and his church is one of the largest in America with more than twenty thousand in attendance each week.

     Warren also founded the P.E.A.C.E. plan, a global strategy to address poverty and disease.  One area of emphasis is the spread of HIV/AIDS.  It is not surprising that President Obama asked Rick Warren to lead our nation in prayer.  When asked what the substance of his prayer would be, Warren replied he did not know, but he was a Christian so it would be a Christian prayer.

     Obama’s choice of Warren for the invocation was met with controversy.  As a pastor Warren had issued a statement two weeks prior to the 2008 general election supporting the adoption of proposition 8, a California state referendum that would have made marriage between a man and a woman state law.  When Warren’s choice for the invocation was announced an immediate howl went up from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender crowd.  Obama despite the controversy and criticism stuck to his guns and Warren gave the invocation.  That was then, this is now.

     Pastor Louie Giglio of Passion Church in Roswell, Georgia, had been tapped to give the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration.  Having won a second term, President Obama invited Giglio to his second inauguration, because of his work in helping millions around the world by laboring to eliminate the sex-trafficking trade.  When it became known that he had preached a message condemning homosexuality as a sin in the mid 1990’s, the LGBT community were incensed and expressed their displeasure.

     Giglio was urged by inaugural organizers to withdraw because, “We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this inaugural.”

     Between the first and second inaugural the President has “evolved” on the issue of homosexuality and, made it possible for gays to serve openly in our Armed Forces, refused to have the United States Attorney General enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, a Federal law that only recognizes a marriage between a man and a woman as legal, and has acquiesced to the LGBT agenda giving them more political clout, and a stranglehold on religious freedom.

     Conscious of evangelical feeling and thinking of winning a second term, Obama extended an olive branch to the evangelical community by letting Warren give the invocation at his initial inaugural celebrating diversity.  Now at his final inaugural, when he no longer needs to court the evangelical bloc and wishing to please the faithful LGBT bloc, it would appear that the celebration of diversity has become narrower, meaning no benediction by Giglio.  A lot can change in four years; then Rick was in, now Louie is out.

     When the citizens of Sodom called for the two strangers who had come under Lot’s hospitality and the protection of his roof, he pled, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly (Genesis 19:7).”  Angered at Lot’s words, the men of Sodom demanded, “Stand aside.  This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them (Genesis 19:9).”  Lot learned the hard way that you cannot reason with those who make the pursuit of please their first priority.  You cannot reason with intolerance.

     It makes no difference that Louie Giglio pastors a successful and growing church, and is a champion of the sexually exploited.  It is not what he has done that matters, it is what he said almost twenty years ago and what he stands for now.  And that cannot be tolerated.

     Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said it succinctly in his column, “a Christian pastor has been effectively disinvited from delivering an inaugural prayer because he believes and teaches Christian truth.”  We have drifted far from the spiritual moorings of our forefathers who came to these shores for “the advancement of the Christian faith.”  Christians need to brace themselves against the storm that threatens moral sanity, reason and Revelation.  It is coming.

The Devil Made Me Do It

“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.  It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”  Ronald Reagan said that.  I agree with his point, but would add that this “American precept” was predicated upon and adopted from biblical truths such as “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God (Romans 14:12).”  Personal responsibility was embraced by the Christian consensus that guided our founding fathers and a tacit tenet of American jurisprudence.  The lex non scripta of lex scripta so to speak.

This principle of personal responsibility is being ignored by five inmates serving time at Idaho’s Kuna Correctional facility.  They are incarcerated for crimes ranging from grand theft to manslaughter committed while they were under the influence of alcohol.  According to news reports, they are suing several big name liquor and wine companies for a cool billion bucks.

Cory Baugh, Jeremy Brown, Keith Brown, Woodrow Grant and Steve Thompson base their suit on the contention these companies never warned them about the addictive nature of alcoholic beverages.  Jeremy Brown claims, “If I was not an alcoholic, the shooting would never have happened.  At no time in my life, prior to me becoming an alcoholic, was I ever informed that alcohol was habit forming and addictive.”  Woodrow Grant says he fears “the day I am released from prison.  I do not know if I can be a productive member of society and still control the desires and craving to use alcohol.”

The suit may ultimately prove successful.  Time will tell.  But Jeremy Brown needs to know there are no civil remedies for willful, undisciplined behavior.  If Woodrow Grant does not know if he can remain sober, I do not know if he should be released, but he will be released once his supposed debt to society has been paid.  I already know how Grant spells recidivate, d-r-u-n-k-e-n-n-e-s-s.

There was a time when such a lawsuit would have been summarily dismissed as being frivolous and without merit.  That may still happen here, but I am not sure we can count on it.  Our judicial system acts less judicious with each passing day.  Why is that?

As our culture turns from the Word of God for answers, it turns to the thoughts of man.  Sigmund Freud taught man’s problems stem from an over-socialized Superego (the loose equivalent of the conscience).  The Id seeks to pursue its primitive, natural pleasures, but is repressed by the Superego’s moral socialization.  All of this transpires at the subconscious level.  This subconscious tug of war manifests itself in the Ego, the conscious level, in the form of mental problems leading to antisocial behavior.  The conclusion of this view is man’s mental and behavioral problems result from a morality imposed by others making man a victim of his conscience.

In contradistinction, the Bible teaches man is responsible for his actions, and is a violator of his conscience, not a victim of it.  But this is no longer the prevailing consensus in our society otherwise such a lawsuit would never see the light of day in court.

There is another aspect of this issue that needs to be addressed.  Alcoholism is not a disease.  I am not denying the physiological problems associated with prolonged abuse; that is another issue entirely.  If alcoholism is a disease, then it is the only one that is bottled and sold for a profit.  There is no Other Disease Store where you can get a six-pack of influenza, a fifth of pneumonia, or a bottle of well-aged coronary heart disease.  Alcoholism is not a disease; it is a decision.  It is commonly a symptom of a deeper problem.

The decision to drink and keep on drinking until one becomes morally uninhibited and physically impaired is the responsibility of the person doing the drinking.  It is not the responsibility of the liquor company, the bar owner, the bartender, or your drinking buddy to correct the consequences of your self-imposed impairment.

The comedian Flip Wilson popularized the phrase “the Devil made me do it” whenever he was caught doing something wrong.  The Kuna five will not be able to play the blame game of “the Devil made me do it” when they stand before that heavenly assize.  It should not play well in an earthly court either.