Last time, we saw how “Paula Deen Was Born That Way” is nothing less than an excuse. I find it interesting, though, that one of the topics this evening with Laura Ingram on The O’Reilly Factor is whether or not what Deen said is “unforgivable”.
Someone pointed out to me that she herself used a similar excuse in one of her videos, and for the record I did not watch all three. However, I was aware that she might have from some commentary here and there, but, while I was not ignorant of it, it wasn’t my main point.
However, today it does have to do with my main point. Society is often cynical, says you were born this way or that way, and you want to know something? People start to believe it, and when it is reinforced enough, people start to believe that they themselves cannot change.
If you really think about it, though, it becomes surprising just how ingrained this belief is. Again, I’d like to point out that in most Christian beliefs, even mainstream Christian beliefs, is embedded the belief that you can change. However, our society has been fed the belief that we are nothing more than animated clay that ascended from amoebas for so long, even mainstream Christianity has become infected with this idea that we can have no or very little control over our proclivities and desires. My concern for each of you is that I challenge you to ask if and where it has infected you!
Now, I do want to be fair, so I will point out that Deen herself has said she has changed and no longer uses speech like that. Seriously, I think this is what bothers me the most about some reactions. Have any one of her critics never said anything hurtful, spiteful or bigoted? Ever? Bigotry is not always about race, after all. If they did, did they apologize and expect forgiveness? One clip I saw on the news even had her saying, “There was no excuse.” However, that is an admittedly odd and inconsistent thing to say when she also blames her upbringing for all of this.
I also want to point out that statements like, “She could say that [blame it on her upbringing] if she were 148 years old,” are also pretty ignorant. In fact, even 100 years after the end of the Civil War, civil rights in this country was a contentious issue. You don’t have to be a southerner to have been around racially charged and often inconsistent and waffling attitudes toward other races.
More surprising to me as a youngster were the attitudes of those who were marginalized who in turn did their level best to marginalize others. After all, if you don’t like being treated that way, why treat others in kind? The Golden Rule? Oh, that’s right. That would be a moral teaching. And, since there no longer is an objective basis for morality in this society, then even that rule about putting yourself in another’s shoes has no basis.
I saw an interesting wall post on Facebook. It said you don’t need religion to be moral. It said to know right and wrong, you only need empathy. It doesn’t take too much common sense to see the inherent flaw in that argument, does it? After all, it begs the question: Why is empathy moral, and what moral authority says it even should be?
It gets worse, though. No one likes to change, even for the better. Change, even good change, causes stress. If that “good” is relative and not resting on an objective standard, it is too easy to give up on it. Real change is hard. Society has a pretty twisted way of reinforcing even that point, though.
I know a minister who likes to make comparisons of how society views change vs what the Bible teaches. Practically everything in Satan’s societies is a counterfeit of God’s way of life. The Bible talks about repentance and conversion. Society has a cheap substitute which is so cheap that it has become the butt of jokes and comic strips. Society has New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes, they are broken even on New Year’s Eve. Most of the time, they are abandoned by the time February rolls around.
Yet, this is society’s cynical view of change. So, when you hear, “People cannot change,” this entrenched cynicism is what is at its roots. It is not usually a matter of not being able to change. No, it is usually is because people do not want to change! There is a very, very big difference.
So, what is the effect upon the individual? Well, for one thing, it absolves them of all responsibility. “It wasn’t my fault. I was born/raised that way.” “It’s normal.” “It is just the way I am. This is me.” So, people don’t change. They justify the state of affairs they are surrounded in. Have you ever heard these sorts of things spoken by someone before? Perhaps you yourself have said something along those lines?
Criminals will commit again because they are told they cannot change. Addicts will drink/inject/snort/smoke again because they are told they cannot change. The homeless will not be given anywhere to live because they do not have a place to live already (that’s true! You have to have a place to live to get a place to live). Employers will shun you, banks will not deal with you, and the police may even harass you. And so on.
Have we bought into the lie that people are totally incapable of change? If you believe John Calvin, mankind it “totally depraved”. That is not what the Bible says. It says plenty to indict carnal human nature, but it doesn’t say people by nature are “totally depraved”.
9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
So, there were two trees in the middle of the Garden of Eden. One was the Tree of Life. The other was the Tree of Evil, right? Wrong! It was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil! It is a mixture of both!
That’s why there are very few truly evil people in the world. Apparently, even Adolf Hitler had a dog he loved.
So, when someone is doing something, and they deem it as not being “good”, that person can and sometimes does change! In spite of what society drills into people, people do change. Life requires change. People grow up. People graduate school, go to college, change jobs, change careers, get married, get divorced, have children, have an empty nest, overcome various diseases and ultimately die. Change: It is all around us! Life is about change!
That is why criminals get out and go straight. That is why alcoholics learn to stay sober. That is why people go to college and improve their minds and their standard of living. It is even why people change partners! They see those changes as “good”, even if the changes they are chasing are not always really good.
Christianity is supposed to be about change. Once you are called and baptized, you are supposed to change. Of course, some denominations have done away with all that “legalism” and now it is come “Just As I Am”. Even that would probably not be so bad, except you are not supposed to stay that way!
The first step is to repent! We must turn 180 degrees from the path we are walking on and go the other direction. Specifically, we must consciously choose God’s direction.
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Obviously, we are expected to change! Obviously, we are supposed to become something different!
Yet, we see ads claiming you can lose weight by eating all you want. We see promises of overcoming our financial difficulties instantly through bankruptcy. We are fed promises that you can learn another language in five minutes. Why is this so? Because people want shortcuts! Real change takes real work!
That is why people often do not change, even if it means preserving their health. It can be too difficult to quit smoking. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes a true, deep and abiding desire to want to quit.
On top of that, people get tired, people get distracted, and people can have their willpower waver. Like everything else in life, it often becomes a matter of prioritizing and dealing with the important things first.
Still, though, is that really enough? Change might make you a “good person”, but is it good enough in God’s eyes? Will positive change get you into the Kingdom?
No, it will not. But, that’s another article.