June 30, 2010

Justifiable Guilt


We’ve been examining how the dispensations are God’s contrastive process of showing how His plan of righteousness is the correct one.  In the last post, we saw that Adam and Eve failed in the first dispensation primarily because they chose to justify themselves over God when they committed a wrong act.

You can’t escape the dispensations

Our history on earth is played out through the dispensations.  But why does it have to be this way? We’re human beings with a free will right?  What if we decide we don’t want to play God’s dispensation game?  Can’t we just ignore our wrongs and refuse to justify anyone?   (In other words, can’t we all just take on the mentality of politicians?)

Well, for better or worse, that isn’t really an option.  When God created Adam and Eve in His image, certain traits and knowledge about existence were irrevocably passed on to us.  For example, we inherently know that existence exists.  We know that contradictions cannot exist.  We know that every effect has a cause, and we know that the concepts of right and just are absolutes.

Though while we tacitly acknowledge that righteousness and justice are optimal, also we know that we are not always and completely right and just.  Therefore, we know that at some point we’ll screw up.

Guilt is a cruel mistress

We inherently know when we do something wrong because our brains are wired to detect contradictions.  Even if we try to deny it consciously, our subconscious  (or “unaware brain”) still detects contradictions and inconsistencies whether we want it to or not.  Our subconscious makes sure we know when we do wrong by making us feel guilt.

We feel guilt because our inherent awareness of justice tells us that the “wrong” we just did unbalanced the scales and we’re on the wrong side of justice.  We’re at a deficit.  We owe something.  Guilt is our “you need to pay” alert.

But we don’t like feeling guilty, so we want to make it go away.  The problem is that we can’t make the “wrong” we committed go away (because it already happened), so the only relief from guilt that we can hope for is some kind of justification.

Justification is the act of rendering an action “just”.  If an action is justified, then it is considered fair and appropriate.  No one owes anyone anything.  The scales are balanced.

Justification means never having to say you’re sorry

There are essentially two categories of justification, which I call the “Justification of God”, and the “Justification of Man”.  Justification of God means that we get justification God’s way by being contrastive and/or allowing God to guide us into righteousness.  We justify righteousness (God) over ourselves when we are wrong by acknowledging the “wrong”, and then turning from it and embracing “right”.  This is called repentance.  Repentance leads to “salvation” which is the process by which God renders us justified. We will examine salvation in detail when we look at the sixth dispensation.

But as we discussed earlier, being contrastive is painful, perhaps just as painful as the guilt we’re trying to get rid of.  That’s where “Justification of Man” comes in.  Justification of Man means we render ourselves just in spite of our wrongs.  When we justify ourselves, we are being intentionally comparative.  We create some rationalization for our wrongness that allows us to unilaterally declare that either the “wrong” we did wasn’t really wrong, or that we had a just reason for committing it.

Lets say, for example that I make a mean or hurtful comment to someone who doesn’t deserve it.  Instead of apologizing, I justify myself by saying that I’ve been under a lot of stress, or that I get irritable without my morning coffee, or that the remark wasn’t really hurtful and the person I offended needs to “lighten up”.

The problem is that Justification of Man is a contradiction.  The “wrong” really happened.  The scales are still unbalanced and a penalty is still owed, thus the guilt is still there.  Self-justification is self-delusion.

The road to brain damage

Although we can try (with great effort) to deny this reality with our conscious mind, we cannot fool our subconscious.  The subconscious only sees reality.  It is immune to our delusions, skewed perspectives, rationalizations, social constructs and irrational views. The subconscious is the source of our feelings of guilt because it always sees the reality of our wrongs.

Since our brains function according to electro-chemical feedback loops, this internal conflict between our conscious and subconscious minds can result in actual physical degradation of the brain.  So technically, when we engage in Justification of Man, we are intentionally causing ourselves brain damage (this actually goes a long way toward explaining the mentality of politicians).

There is one other category of justification that is a hybrid of Justification of God and Justification of Man.  In this form of justification, man acknowledges his wrongness and guilt to varying degrees, but instead of contrastively seeking God’s righteousness, man attempts to make things right by balancing the scales through his own efforts.  He tries to make his guilt go away and appease righteousness (God) by performing “good works”.  This type of justification is called “religion”.  In many ways, it is the worst and most damaging justification of all.  We’ll discuss it next week.

Related Podcast – Guilt and Justification

Remember to subscribe to this blog to receive new posts when they are published


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Facebook