Good people don’t do bad things

Ok, so as much as I hate to admit it, I watch reality shows with my wife.  One of her favorites is Rehab with Dr. Drew.  In past years, the series was a showcase of celebrities in need of rehab from drug and alcohol addictions.  This year however, the show puts ordinary people with the same problems on display throughout the detox and recovery process.  The most recent episode perked my ears as one of the participants was about to reveal a devastating personal secret.

[Attention: Spoiler alert for episode 605 “Anger Management” follows]

In this episode Jasmen confesses to the group that she had a miscarriage — at four months pregnant — in the recent past and was especially upset because “today” was supposed to be the due date for her baby.  There was something more to the story, however.  Something that made her feel intensely guilty which made it incredibly difficult to speak in front of others.  As she struggled to ‘come clean’ she said to herself (out loud) that she’s such a bad person for doing what she had done.  The other members of the group, in an effort to comfort her, assured her multiple times that she wasn’t a bad person.

Her secret?  That after she miscarried her child, she “threw him away in the trash”.   At this point one can see why she felt such crippling guilt.  Losing a child to a miscarriage is devastating enough, but then to dispose of your child in such an ignoble fashion, it’s enough to bring almost anyone to dilute their conscience with alcohol as Jasmen did.

I am in no way trying to minimize the emotional trauma Jasmen feels.  Your heart breaks for someone whose experienced such an event.  But her fellow recovering addict’s attempt at reassurance is what I often find troubling.  Now, know that I recognize that the group was trying to be supportive and comforting by telling her she’s not a bad person, I get it.  And I’m not suggesting she did what she did with a clear conscience or with frivolity.  It must have been the most difficult thing she’s ever done.  I ask though: Would a good person really throw their baby in the trash?  Surely anyone would agree that throwing a baby’s lifeless body in the trash is not a good thing.  In fact it’s a pretty evil deed, and I would question the moral compass of anyone who would suggest otherwise.

My issue is how willing people are to pardon even the most heinous acts such as Jasmen’s.  The perspective is sometimes thought of as sometimes good people do bad things.  They want to separate the person from the act in order to preserve the general belief that people are more or less good.  This is made easy by the rationalizing of immorality because everyone does bad things, right?  So we can’t all be bad, can we?  This is a pardon of character I wont grant, and where the Christian perspective, I believe, rings most true.

I am unwilling to isolate a person’s character from their deeds.  I would argue that anyone who convinces themselves — regardless of the stress of the moment — that discarding a dead body in a garbage can is a viable option, is morally broken.  I don’t see how throwing your baby in the trash wouldn’t even cross the mind of a good person.

I think if one takes an honest look at the state of humanity, with none of the rationalizing, they should be able to conclude that we are, by nature, an immoral bunch.  We don’t need to be taught to deceive, steal, manipulate, assault, or be selfish, to name but a few examples.  These behaviors come very naturally and we must be trained to resist these very natural-feeling urges.  Good people don’t lie, cheat, steal, assault, or throw the bodies of their dead children in trash cans.  This assessment of man’s condition is consistent with the Christian worldview.  Others marginalize and make excuses for the ‘sins’ of ‘good’ people.  Suspiciously, there’s always a reason why many of our sins don’t count.

There is of course a real solution: Forgiveness and redemption.  And it comes through but one venue: Trust in Christ.  The guilt Jasmen feels is appropriate, and in fact it’s a good thing that she still feels it.  Luckily there’s hope for someone who realizes their moral shortcomings.  Someone who feels no guilt will not recognize their need for forgiveness.  And although it doesn’t seem to register with her compatriots on the show, Jasmen feels guilty because she is guilty.  Trying to talk her out of feeling this guilt is nearly as bad as the act itself in my opinion.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t even imagine myself telling someone who did what she did that they’re a good person and that she shouldn’t feel guilty.

I really do hope Jasmen gets help.  Unfortunately she wont get it from medication or therapeutic advice coming from people unable to recognize the real problem: Sin, or the bona fide solution: Jesus.

Any Thoughts?

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