Steering Into Disaster

25 03 2009

I see it all the time: there’s a tow truck at the side of the road, and the car in front of me, instead of hugging the opposite side of his lane actually veers toward the hazard.  If you’ve never seen such drivers, then you’re probably one of them.  It’s really a common phenomenon.  People tend to head toward what they’re watching, and they tend to watch the most interesting thing around, which is the hazard at the side of the road.  It’s totally unconscious.  If you were to ask them, they’d probably deny doing it.  Tow truck drivers get hit by cars that had plenty of room to avoid them.  That’s why I’ll never work as a tow truck driver.  If the passers-by had been focused on the empty space where they should have been guiding the car, then the collision never would have happened.

You head for whatever you focus your attention on.  If you spend your time thinking about a sin, then you’re probably going to commit that sin.  Yeah, sure, you’re just thinking about how to avoid that sin.  Don’t kid yourself.  Your conscious mind might be saying it, but it’s only a front for the subconscious.  A person could spend all day planning out how not to sin, only to commit the deed in the end.

People who are afraid that they won’t be able to sleep never get to sleep.  They lie awake all night thinking about how they can’t sleep.  Some people walk into a restroom afraid that they won’t be able to urinate.  No matter how badly they need to go, or how hard they try, they just can’t do it.  It’s not a physical problem, often, but a psychological one.   Some people think about breathing, and they wonder what would happen if they stopped consciously doing it.  They can’t stop consciously doing it, because they keep thinking about it, and the more they think about it the harder it is to breathe naturally.  Some people fear public speaking.  They’re so afraid that when they get on stage and open their mouths, nothing will come out.  Then, when the situation arises, that very fear paralyzes them and fulfills itself.

You don’t get to sleep by thinking about restlessness.  You get there by thinking about relaxing things.  You don’t avoid sin by thinking about it.  You avoid sin by thinking about things that are full of virtue.  It’s really the same principle.

People say that they can’t help it.

A truck driver can hold his need to use the restroom for so long that it backs up to his kidneys and causes kidney failure.  Prisoners on hunger strike  have denied themselves of food for so long that they starved to death.  Soldiers have been trained to hold their breath almost to the point of lethal suffocation.  What, then, is this wimpy temptation to sin?  Ordinary people can deny themselves of legitimate needs.  Certainly they can deny themselves of what they do not need.

Although it’s tempting to say that this world is full of new temptations that past generations never had, nothing could be further from the truth.  The essence of these things has always been around in one form or another, and, remarkably, for every soul who has been tempted, there has always been some jerk there to sell him what he wants.  Every temptation boils down to just a few basic, simple pleasures.  We’re only built to feel good in just so many ways, whether it be pride, relaxation, comfort, food or other physical amenity.  Every sin stems from a temptation, and every temptation can be traced to some simple thing innate in humanity, usually some stimulus meant to promote adaptive behavior.  People are most creative when it comes to satisfying simple pleasures, and it gets to the point of utter perversion at times.

That’s all it is, though, just a simple shallow feeling being satisfied temporarily.  It’s about as meaningful as putting on socks when your feet are cold.  It feels good, nothing more.  Sin is taking that simple reponse and blowing it out of proportion.  What it lacks in depth, it attempts to make up for in sheer volume.  Convenience is nice, because it promotes efficient behavior.  Yet, we take it to the point of killing inconvenient people, and tailgating slow drivers to coerce them into driving faster.  Pride is not all bad if it motivates us to make the best of ourselves.  Yet, we’ve turned it into a worship of ourselves, forsaking even the ideals of God in favor of our own.

Some people say that abstinence until marriage is unrealistic.  Those of us who have actually waited until marriage find this to be a foolish assertion.  You don’t win wars by waving a white flag, and you don’t defeat temptation by calling it irresistible.

And you don’t overcome sin by dwelling on it.  Don’t watch that dirty movie.  Don’t listen to that dirty talk.  Don’t fill your mind with trash.

For every temptation that comes our way, there have been numerous heroes throughout all of history, ordinary people like you and me, some of them even weaker than us, who faced that same temptation and won.  There is no temptation on the face of this earth that has not been conquered many times by people who were not especially gifted in doing so.  Virtue is available to all people.  God has made no command that cannot be obeyed.  Everyone has a choice to make, whether to serve God, or to serve simple, stupid pleasures.  These days, we’re turning vices into virtues.  We’re normalizing sin.  Instead of calling people to righteousness, we’re helping people make excuses for themselves.

If this doesn’t change soon, we’re toast.  We’re steering into disaster.  We’re so focused on sin that we’ve lost sight of righteousness.





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