Jessica has opened up a few doors that we might explore more extensively in order that we might see more clearly what has gone wrong in our societies and in our families in less than a hundred years. This is my first step in peeking behind just one of those doors.
The reason for bringing this up is twofold. First, to observe that all people do not have the same family or societal/religious experience and second, that not everyone reacts to their experiences in the same way.
Jessica is an advocate of God’s love being offered (by the evangelist or Church) as the first approach to the sinful soul or to the soul who has distanced themselves entirely from Christianity; those ignorant of even the basics of what Christianity is about. There is nothing wrong with Jess’s method if we are prudent in our examination of the individual and limit it to particular types of persons. I say this because human psychology and the needs of individuals is not homogenous but quite varied. This is also true of the evangelists who are attempting to work with such people.
I would like to take Jess’s largely valid premise and change the subject a tad in order to analyze the prevailing psychology of the persons we are most apt to come accross in our daily lives and in a macro sense, the general makeup of a great number of nations (not to exclude many in our dwindling Christian culture as well). Many individuals, churches and even nation states take the ‘love first’ approach with persons who exhibit poor and even criminal behavior. The thinking is that they are showing God’s unconditional love; a love without boundaries. For the last 50 years this has been practiced in the home by many a well-meaning parent. Schools also, have adopted the practice of teaching self-esteem, ending punishment and any useful form of discipline. Sadly the outcome has been abysmal; serving to only strengthen and aggravate the inevitible destruction of the development of a valid sense of character within such children; losing their trust in authority, their understanding of right and wrong and even of what is considered just or unjust. Justice is to many of these persons seen only through the lens of what benefits them personally.
A child who has a nature to push the limits of norms and love itself, must be given limits and boundaries which are fixed. When a parent ‘spares the rod’ or does not put limits and boundaries on the behavior of their child, it too often creates a person of such self-absorption that they become unfit for the workplace or to live in a civilized world. Parents might wrongly think that they are showing the depth of their love by allowing the child to get away with anything and by taking their side when they find themselves corrected in school, in an altercation with some authority, or actually breaking the laws of the land. What actually occurs in many of these children is quite the opposite of what the parent intended; to form a child who is psychologically strengthened by the knowledge that their parent loves them unconditionally. Many such children seem to become all the more self-centered, losing empathy and care for others, and actually feel that the parent is totally indifferent to them (not caring what they say, think or do) and thus they become imprinted with a false Messiah complex or at least tend toward a narcissistic personality. These pathologies are sometimes a cry for help rather than a mere mistake in judgement. Much of this is caused by the affirmation of their inappropriate behavior which they receive daily at home, in school and from a willing society that prefers to coddle rather than correct. These children at times may escalate their bad behavior for attention and actually long for the correction they have never had. It is a sign that the parent has instilled within the child a worth that is purely utilitarian; it is better to exonerate than to lose face in the community or sully their good name. They do not see themselves, or anyone for that matter, of being of some intrinsic value to society much less to God. The worst of these children (the social experiments of the past 100 years) will turn to whatever they desire regardless of cultural ethos, parental wishes, societal standards or common laws because they either want to test the limits or they have become so confirmed in their self worth that they no longer think that the values of their parents, elders, society or God applies to them. They manifest this behavior in various mental and moral deficiencies that can make them some of this world’s most vile members; drug addicts, sadists, masochists, lewd, spiteful, liars, manipulative and in extreme cases completely unfeeling of others and even hateful of still others. For the use of other people to them is purely fashioned upon what they themselves get out of a relationship to suit their own purpose or desire. If taken far enough, serial killers, Munchausen Syndromers, NPD’s and other maladjusted psychopaths become the extreme result. They enjoy pity or applause and fame; victimhood or adulation. There are no laws or boundaries which apply to them and God would only require them to abandon all they have ever lived for; they are the center of their world and the world should bow to them or feel sorry for them and allow them privileges that nobody else receives. Such people feel (and take for granted) that they are smarter than other people and that the world is rather ignorant and only useful if it can be exploited for their own pleasure and well being. When they tire of a person, or they lose their utilitarian purpose, former allies are discarded or eliminated. This, it seems, is the dire results which may occur; an epitome of the ‘spoiled child’ resulting from the ‘sparing of the rod’.
Such people are not unredeemable, of course, but it does require a method that is far removed from telling them that God loves them just as they are; for they need no additional justification to bolster their ever swelling egos, self-adulation and beliefs that they are above all laws. How to reach them, once they have fallen deep into this mental illness, is the question of the age; the modernist age.
Those who benefit from the approach by Jessica seems to me to be a dwindling population largely due to this dissolution of the healthy family, which has perverted the values of society and now has even effected changes in the laws of the land (to accomodate these very same people); for, the well adjusted, were raised to respect a moral ethos which bound us all together even if it only lies dormant in the recesses of their minds. This declining population largely comes from those who were raised to know good from evil and parents that lived in a society that condemned much of the immorality that is now accepted as normal behavior. Sadly, with broken families on the rise and the failure of our schools, these folks are in danger of extinction. But in such cases that, by God’s grace, some have escaped this slide into the abyss, there are a good number of people left presently who may have discovered that they have been used, fooled or cajoled into sin even if it were the lies they told to themselves. They usually have a list of excuses to help them justify their sin. For such as these there is still some understanding that there is truth to the concept of good or evil. Love might well be a path that will help such individuals.
Another group that may benefit from this loving approach are those who were raised in dysfunctional families where they have never felt love at all. They were abused by many methods and feel worthless and unloved. They desire a pure love which isn’t simply a form of being used for the desires of others to simply be discarded later. They are looking for a lasting love and one that isn’t judgmental as to where they have been in the past or how they ended up due to the circumstances in their lives. They are skeptical that such love even exists and when they find a love that wants nothing in return, save a return of love and obedience to that love, then the cycle of abuse might end and a profound change might take place which allows them to escape the ever repeating tail chasing that always ends the same way; in hurt and disappointment.
I personally think that broken families, the onslaught of changing societal morality codes and changes in law (legalizing immorality) has made of a predominantly healthy society one that is presently on life-support. Our Churches more than ever must learn how to deal with all people of all kinds of backgrounds without compromising the moral codes that once forged great societies that valued integrity, honesty, empathy and sympathy for others. But the codes of conduct need be once again reflected in society and the job of the Church is not to be simply another political player in this restructuring of society but the conscience of any society which visibly keeps the moral values alive and resists those trends which continually want to strip all morality from our cultural heritage: a Church that teaches that there are such things as objective truths and denies the existence of subjective truths. The evil one’s battle today seems to be one of realism versus relativism and he has made very good progress to date thanks to our complicity in the acceptance of all the false ‘goods’ which he has offered.
Satan has been very successful in spoiling the dignity and worth of mankind. Even love has become so much foolishness when our own love of self is so esteemed.