Rebecca Hamilton On How We Become Monsters…

 

If this post doesn’t cut you to the quick, nothing will. Put on the shoes of the other side, and recall clearly where consequentialism leads, and how if we let it, it will damn us all to Hell.

But when you go down that path of using one evil to justify another evil you end up committing even greater evils yourself. If you really aren’t a monster who has no conscience or concern for other people, you look for ways to hide what you are doing from yourself. The greatest lies of our times are the lies we tell ourselves to justify doing things that we know are wrong. What makes it work is that the whole culture conspires with us in the doing of it.

The culture, not just of Planned Parenthood, but of our whole American world, says that you can not, you should not, you must not “judge.”

As with most lies that are effective, this one has truth mixed into it. The desire to play God runs strong in all of us. I think that if we had the power to enact our judgements on one another, none of us would go to heaven. We would all condemn one another to hell.

But using the word “judgement” itself as a condemnation is not only idiotic, it’s destructive. The human brain is designed by Our Maker to observe, compare, think and conclude. These conclusions are just another word for “judgement.” When our culture labels this power to discern and decide an evil; when it shears our thinking brains away from us, we become a culture of co-dependence and mental decay.

It’s as if we’ve all suffered a cultural stroke and the words “this is wrong” have been erased from our minds. Instead of saying the plain facts of things, we go into mental gymnastics, trying to “understand” the most hideous behavior. We create fantasy motives for crimes against humanity which are tissues of lies we tell ourselves. These fantasy interpretations of the plain reality in front of us help us silence the thinking, analyzing parts of our brains. They allow us to avoid the social anathema of being labeled “judgmental.”We find ourselves unable to set standards for behavior for anyone, including ourselves.

That is how a basically kind-hearted person can become a monster.

The great irony is that the flip side of this is no better. If we take the untrammeled power to judge others onto ourselves, we unleash the monsters of condemnation, discrimination and, inevitably, killing of innocents. That’s where the gulags, pogroms, lynchings, rapes and murders come from. On the other hand, if we flee from this into a refusal to “judge,” we unleash the monsters of condemnation, discrimination and, inevitably, killing of innocents. That’s where the attacks on Christians, abortions, euthanasia, and starvation of millions for corporate greed come from.

We can whipsaw our human nature from pole to pole; from legalistic judging to fear of judging that becomes another kind of legalistic judging, and we always end up right back where we started from. We are caught forever in the morass and mess of original sin and we cannot think, moralize or fight our way out of it.

The only thing that can save us is the cross. The only One who can save us is Jesus.

I know. Because He saved me. My first reaction to that video was anger. Then, I indulged in a few minutes of self-righteousness by remembering what I went through trying to help pass a bill to lessen the practice of sex-selected abortion. Finally, I came around to the truth: That counselor could have been me, was me, is me, without Christ.

Human beings become monsters when we take the deciding of right and wrong, good and bad, on ourselves without reference to the One who made us. Nothing we can do, and I mean NOTHING we can do, can save us from this. You can go to church, sing in the choir, read the Bible, but if you do these things on your own power and by your own lights, you can and you will become a monster to somebody. You may not have an abortion. But you’ll do something.

We are not saved by ourselves, of ourselves, or even for ourselves. Our salvation comes through the humiliation of the cross and the only honest way we can approach that cross is with humility.

The only salvation we have is at the foot of the cross.

The counselor in that video could have been me.

When you look around at the sins of the world, which of them could be you?

Go read the entire thing, watch the embedded video, and reflect on it. Because becoming fully human is a lifetime project.

 

  • J. H. M. Ortiz

    But what about the clear Scriptural prohibition “Judge not” (Luke 6:37, Matthew 7:1)? I think Gerald Vann, O.P., has eloquently offered the solution in his book The Heart of Man (Ch. III), in noting simply that “where there is obvious wickedness, we must protest and fight against the external crime, indeed, but we can never judge of [another person's interior] sin because we can never know the human heart.”
    In a similar vein, Vatican II’s constitution Gaudium et Spes states (in Section 28) that “[God] forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.”

  • Anil Wang

    J. H. M. Ortiz,
    There are some statements not to judge, but there are far more that ask you to admonish the sinner.
    Jesus himself provides the context on judging…the measure you place on others will be placed on you so you’d better make sure you remove the log from your own eyes before you remove the speck from anyone else. St Paul said that he was the greatest sinner. Because he recognized his sin, he was able to repeatedly admonish the Corinthians, Galatians, and other churches with a measure less harsh than the one he placed on himself. But he still judged, because we cannot love if we are indifferent.

    • J. H. M. Ortiz

      I don’t disagree with you. Neither would Gerald Vann, since he said that “where there is obvious wickedness, we must protest and fight against the external crime”.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X