The Evil Within

A number of years ago there was a column in the local newspaper written by a psychologist. The column was what one would expect as it dealt with the problems common to people, like depression, anxiety, relationships and so forth. Since the psychologist did not possess a biblical worldview, terms related to nature or nurture, mental illness and the various treatments were common until one day it all seemed to unravel for this particular psychologist.

The psychologist (not a religious person by his own admission) had a patient that he could not neatly fit into the DSM IV categories. The reason? The psychologist came to believe the man he was counseling was simply evil. The psychologist seemed to conclude that the man did not possess a moral barometer (something Christians would call a conscience). The psychologist was shaken by his conclusion and it led him to consider the spiritual nature of people-something that his training had not explored or considered as it applied to human behavior.

That is what came to my mind in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre. What we heard by way of explanation was that the shooter was “crazy”, “sick”, “distraught”, “unhinged” and so forth.  All of that was followed by the usual blame the gun, blame politicians and pleas to “do something” while never suggesting anything specific that would have mattered.

Psychology does not consider evil like the Bible does and our culture is fully immersed in psychological (mostly materialistic\Darwinian) explanations and categories.

Psychology does not consider sin (although a religious psychologist might) and is thus reluctant to deal in moral categories and thus would not label a heinous act as evil\sin but rather as a type of disease, sickness or temporary insanity. That’s what bothered the psychologist I mentioned above. He dealt with mental illnesses, not moral categories and certainly not people given over to evil and the revelation shocked him.

The Bible, on the other hand, diagnoses our fundamental problem. Here is the apostle Paul quoting from, mostly, the Psalms in the Old Testament:

Romans 3:10-18

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
       no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
        no one does good,
        not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
        they use their tongues to deceive.”
   “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14  “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16      in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

The passage turns on its head the notion that people are “basically good” and when they do bad, evil things like mass murder, they have some mental illness or disease. While not all people act out all the evil they are capable of (thank God), some do and we witness it on a daily basis. Yet, the majority of people remain blind to “the evil within.”

We really should not expect an unbelieving world to grasp all the ramifications of evil since the unbelieving world does not have a fear of God (vs 18). Without that fundamental fear of God the world will always look for solutions for people’s problems apart from considering “the evil within” and will continue to treat evil as a mental illness and\or blame game to gain political points.

Every time there is a terrorist attacks or a mass murder I go into a frustrated funk and grieve about our sin sick world. It takes me a day or two to once again comprehend what is truly going on.

A western person given over to evil can orchestrate a Las Vegas type massacre just as easily as a religiously minded Islamic terrorist.  There is little difference since both spring from a belief system that does not consider the God of the Bible nor mankind’s essential problem of the evil within us all.

What are we to do?

Our theology will control our reaction to these things or something else will. At the very least we can come to understand that God can use horrible evil situations to draw attention to the fact of evil (and the spiritual realm in general) and begin to open the minds of survivors to truth and thus provide the one and only remedy to the evil within us all:

Romans 3:21-24
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Lying Can Be a Good Thing?

“Lying is nothing unusual in small children. In fact, it’s a sign of healthy mental growth.”

So states an article titled Children’s Lies Are a Sign of Cognitive Progress in the Wall Street Journal.

Perhaps the key paragraph is this…

“Child-rearing trends might seem to blow with the wind, but most adults would agree that preschool children who have learned to talk shouldn’t lie. But learning to lie, it turns out, is an important part of learning in general—and something to consider apart from fibbing’s ethical implications. “

The article is written from standpoint of psychology research. The clear drift is that children that lie are more successful in life and lying is a skill–something to consider apart from fibbing’s ethical implications as stated above.

So parents, when little Jimmy or Jenny start lying let’s recognize “the good” and be happy they are well on their way to success in life by learning an important cognitive skill.

Don’t be concerned about ethics, the self-centeredness inherent in lying, the manipulation involved or the victimization of others in lying to get what they want. These are minor concerns compared with the larger picture that your children are learning an important skill in how to read others. [Read more…]

Are Addictions Diseases?

The other day I was half paying attention to what was on television when I heard someone refer to a drug addiction as a disease.

It immediately reminded me of what one of my biblically counseling teachers said when he noted, “if it’s a disease then it’s the only disease you can catch voluntarily.”

Whether the issue is porn, spending, overeating, video games, a lot of time on the internet, modern America is quick to call these behaviors “diseases” as if they are something we catch, like cancer.

If they are diseases then my instructor was quite right is saying they are the only diseases we catch voluntarily.

The disease model of addictions first gained notice with AA.

The folks that started AA made the observation that the symptoms of alcohol abuse and addiction looked like a disease and thus implied that the user was under attack by something beyond his or her control. It was assumed that because it looked like a disease it must be so.

Addictions1Today the disease model is accepted as “truth” and applied to everything that looks like addictive, compulsive or habitual (I’m addicted to chocolate) behavior.

There are many downsides in accepting the disease model as truth but perhaps the most obvious is the implication that the abuser can’t help it. In other words you can’t hold someone responsible for catching a disease. The disease model makes the abuser a victim rather than someone who has been irresponsible and makes poor choices.

The disease model is controversial in secular circles. This link to The Disease Model of Addiction at Addiction Research explains.

The disease model is a far cry from the biblical model where an addict is an idolater who is slave to his or her lusts and really only concerned with serving self. Addicts of all sorts are pleasure seekers and the pleasure they seek has come to dominate them or in biblical language is a slave to. The slavery to the idol of pleasure is what the world calls a “disease.”

It should not surprise us that the world has adopted non-biblical terminology to describe problems common to man. It should surprise when the church of Jesus Christ does.

To help the church think biblically about addictions Mark Shaw has written a book titled The Heart of Addiction, a Biblical Perspective where he takes the disease model to task and provides scriptural solutions for addictive behavior. Although the book deals primarily with drug and alcohol abuse there is wide application to other behaviors like porn and anything else labeled additive or compulsive.

Mr. Shaw has a little extra credibility to write such a book because is a certified Master’s Level Addiction Professional (MLAP) with the Alabama Association of Drug and Alcohol Addiction. He is also a member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors the same organization I am part of.

The book is divided into four parts following the 2 Timothy 3:16-17 model:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)

Section 1: Teaching

Section 2: Reproof

Section 3: Correction

Section 4: Training in Righteousness

Eleven appendices follow 214 section pages to bring the total number of pages to 253.

The book is comprehensive and unlike popular books like Celebrating Recovery, The Heart of Addiction (Mr. Shaw’s book) is all Bible, unlike Celebrate Recovery which takes an “admixture approach.” (Admixture means psychology plus Bible.)

I highly recommend the book as a “Bible only” counseling resource. A workbook can also be purchased.

Amazon is selling the book for $12.50 and the workbooks for $8.95.

For more insight by Mr. Shaw follow this link, Is “Addiction” Rooted in a Disease, Demon or Decision at the Grace and Truth Blog. The comments following the article are worth the time to read.

Although this link, Do Christians Overhype Porn Addiction  deals with “porn addiction” it’s well worth the read because it deals with same controversy of the disease or (medical) model versus Scripture.