I came across an article, though not by accident, titled “The Hidden Effects of Divorce on Children”1. The writer outlined what the society suffers from some products of broken homes in America, whose behaviors had been shaped by the decision of their parent(s). And as you would rightly guess, some statistics showed up about how this is true. Going from how it affects children’s grades, to how it affects their mental and physical health. They are more likely to have psychological problems than even those who came from a home disrupted by death. Now fasten your seatbelts; they are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide as those who do not come from broken homes. News Flash: Seventy percent of long-term prison inmates grew up in broken homes; which means that they committed heinous crimes. What’s his headache? He says “Many couples considering divorce refuse to believe that divorce can have a negative effect on their children”. If I’d translate that, it means they just want to be happy, they don’t think they’d be hurting anyone by their decision. But clearly, the result of their seemingly “innocent” decision is making news headlines which they never thought their actions would produce. He goes on to recommend thus: “Based on these statistics, it becomes obvious that children need stable loving homes with both mom and dad. There is, of course, an exception to every rule, and in this case, it is households where abuse is taking place. Children should under no circumstances remain in an abusive atmosphere that is unsafe for them. But if there is no abuse taking place in your marriage and the two of you have simply ‘grown apart’, or fell out of love, I urge you to seek out help for your marriage before you give up completely. For your children’s sake, even if you’re feeling hopeless right now, get help for your marriage today.”
In another piece titled “Effects of Parental Alcoholism”2 Someone else also said “One misconception that many alcoholics and addicts seem to have is that their drinking or substance abuse is not effecting anyone else. Many times they will make statements like, ‘I’m not hurting anyone but myself’. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of research and a vast amount of anecdotal evidence that this is simply not the case. The behavior of addicts and alcoholics can affect everyone around them, including family, friends, employers and coworkers.” First on the list of these effects is that children of alcoholics may have to guess what normal is; which puts the society in trouble.
With statements in these researches such as “likely”, “may” and percentage statistics, it shows that, in the end, everyone must be responsible for their actions; therefore, every unruly behavior should not always be blamed on someone else. There are living evidences that some children grew up under these same circumstances and made good things out of life for themselves. But a greater percentage turns out bad, which creates a cause for concern. This is similar to what scientists call “The Chaos Theory—a theory that complex natural systems obey rules but are so sensitive that small initial changes can cause unexpected final results”
It goes something like this: Jane Doe has just been innocently satisfying her passion with another woman’s husband. The woman found out and broke the home. The effects of the broken home produce a criminal child. That child hurts people from another family and ends up in jail. Someone is engaging in an act like that which Jane Doe committed, she sees the news headline about the crime and passionately advocates that the child does not deserve to live. Little does she know that what she’s doing might produce a worse headline in another ten years. John Doe just took a bribe of a few hundred bucks in order to aid an illegality. A news headline pops up about how a political leader has stashed some millions of public money away in some foreign accounts. He says to other listeners “This man must go to jail”, not realizing that the same desire rules them both. They both deserve to be in jail.
“You are the man” is a recurring theme in scripture. It simply means that the punishment you think that that evil doer deserves for that heinous crime is the same thing that should be meted to you. The evil you see in the world which gives you sorrow is just a dramatic representation of what your actions are capable of producing, if you keep indulging in little sins. “You are the man” was said to King David by Prophet Nathan, after the former had pronounced judgment on a character that he thought had committed an unforgivable sin. “So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!…Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:5, 7). The drama representing David’s sin was narrated to him and he condemned the character who represented him, to his astonishment, he was told: “that character is you”.
The drama of how big the sin of just eating a fruit is, was played out to Adam in the murder of Abel (Gen. 4). Adam got the message saying to Him: You are the man. No words of rebuke to Cain by Adam were recorded. He simply saw the extent to which his “little” disobedience had gone. He realized that truly, “you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). We seem to be comfortable in passing judgment over people who commit wrongs that are generally accepted as wrong, while we are quick to quote the text which says “you shall not judge” when we are reminded that we are threading on the path of a sin that is widely accepted as norm, which has made us think “it’s all about me, why do you bother yourself?”
When we see physical hurt done by people to fellow humans, we instantly pass judgment on those sinners, who for example, have killed hundreds in just one strike. We think they deserve to die. But God feels more hurt than us when He sees such. And the not-so-mysterious truth is that He feels the same hurt when I commit a sin that I think doesn’t hurt anyone else physically. He is emotionally hurt. The scripture says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”(Romans 3:23). It makes no distinctions with reference to the degree of sin. It just says sin, no matter how little hurts God emotionally; because, as suggested by the chaos theory, little sins can produce unexpected and unintended outcome. That is why God desires that sin, even the most little, is exterminated from the universe soon, thus He said that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This is one of the radical claims of Biblical Christianity; it believes that no matter how morally upright you appear to be, “we all deserve to die”. It says to you: “you are the man”.
But in what seems to be a paradox, when we see heinous crimes, we think that the perpetrators deserve to die. We seem to say, “Let them be exterminated because of their sins so that they can allow us continue living in sin”. But God looks at us all and says ‘Repent’. “The Lord…is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). Any—even our terrorists. This was echoed in the reaction of Jesus to the scribes and Pharisees when they caught a woman in adultery, who by their law deserved to die, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7). They simply walked away when Jesus said to them “you are the man”.
The teachings of Biblical Christianity posit that some victims of murder—in whatever form—would share the same fate as their murderer in judgment and this calls for sober reflection. Because in grouping those who’d face the wrath of God in judgment, the Bible makes no variation is terms of degree of sins, it just groups them together. It says “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). And it also says “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).
The belief of biblical Christianity is that, there will always be evil in the world till Jesus comes to make all things new; so there is nothing any human being or group of human beings can possibly do to stop what they think is evil. When we deal with this kind of evil, it doesn’t get milder, another kind arises which we have never imagined. Americans thought that the terrorists were the Arabs until their own kids started killing other people in schools. Therefore, my concern as a Christian should be whether I contribute an iota to this evil by my actions that hurt God. If that’s true, my wish about evil and evil doers cannot be that they should disappear, if that happens, I wonder how many of us will be left. Instead, my wish and prayer should be that of David when he asks: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” (Psalms 51:10-12). This is an excerpt of David’s prayer of repentance after He was told that “you are the man”.
Realizing that I am the man, is the first and most crucial step in coming to Jesus. And sadly, many don’t get it. If somebody or everybody else except you needs to repent, then you don’t get it. If you think nothing is wrong with you or your nature, you don’t get it either. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve professed Christianity or non-religiosity, it only takes a realization of the fact that you deserve to die and you need Jesus to start the process of growth in the Christian faith. Everybody else deserved to die in the eyes of the Prophet Isaiah until he saw the throne of God. He compared the filthiness of his own righteousness with the holiness of God and he said “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5). Isaiah, who up to this point had been declaring woes on evildoers, suddenly sees the holiness of God and realizes that he should have declared woe upon himself too. For what sin? Being a man of unclean lips. He proclaims the same judgment upon himself which he proclaimed on the wicked, and the drunkard and the greedy, because now, he realizes, that I am the man. He went on to group himself together with them and said “we are all like an unclean thing and all our righteousness are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). Because the closer you move to Light—God—the clearer the filthiness of your righteousness is revealed to you. In the end, we all need Jesus.
When I look at some of my friends or my old friends, and compare my lifestyle with theirs, there is a great temptation to think, well, I’ve arrived, at least I’m better than this great sinner. I think like that because “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). But when I compare my lifestyle with the standard of God, I realize that my heart has deceived me and I lament and ask like the Apostle Paul: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” the answer is comforting: “I thank God-through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Roman 7:24, 25). That’s why Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4). Paul mourned concerning the sinfulness of his own life just as he mourned the sinfulness of the world, but he was comforted when he remembered Jesus Christ and his ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16). We all need Jesus. Our reaction to our sinful nature must not result in timidity and hopelessness, but rather we must come boldly to God’s throne in order to obtain mercy and grace.
Evil is like a tree with roots and branches and leaves. And James describes its growth process thus: “each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15). The desires of our sinful nature is the root, the branches and the leaves are the actions that result from those desires–sin and death. If we want this tree called evil to die, it must be uprooted completely. It cannot be exterminated by cutting it’s branches or leaves. The root needs to be dealt with. “For…if the root is holy, so are the branches.” (Romans 11:16). We all need to be grafted into Christ the true vine. “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:13-14). In order to overcome evil in my individual life, I must allow myself to be led by the spirit of God and not by the desires of the sinful flesh which James says ultimately leads to death. Until the second advent of Jesus Christ when evil will be uprooted completely, all I can do about evil is to deal with it in my individual life and then I can tell others to do the same. In the words of King David—the man—after he had asked for a thorough cleansing, he says “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.” (Psalms 51:13). Because I am the man, I must look inward and desire to be cleansed first, then I’ll invite others to join me in the operation room under the blade of the Great Physician—Christ Jesus.
King Solomon, by Divine inspiration admonishes: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecc. 12:13, 14). Not the major news headlines sins alone will be brought before God in judgment, every secret thing will be judged. That’s why, first of all, It’s me, It’s me O! Lord, standing in the need of prayer.