Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Murder in our Hearts
Grim talks about “clean hands,” and those who think that, by avoiding direct involvement in biological and societal necessities, they are of a different nature:
The moral problem of 'the clean hands' is that it is an illusion. It makes people believe they are better than they are, and therefore that others can also be better than they can be. It creates a class of people who feel clean, because they have never felt blood on their hands.
Yet all these things arise from things buried deep in the genetic code. You cannot walk away from them. The failure to experience these things does not mean you would not react to them in just the same way as everyone else: it only means that you cannot understand how you would react, and how others do.
The man with clean hands is just the same as the hunter. It is only that he does not know it. He does not understand that part of his soul, as it lurks beyond his experience. He comes to believe that there is a kind of human that is and can be clean: perhaps that sweet, aged lady on the corner, who in her youth broke necks every night before dinner.
Failing to understand what Man really is, he opens himself more than is wise, and defends himself less. The man with the clean hands believes in diplomacy but not the force that makes diplomacy viable. He believes in staying clean, because he believes it makes him better than you. He does not understand that it only makes him blind.
This is not a call to amoralism, but precisely the opposite. It is a call for true morality, which can only begin with awareness of sin. It can only come from a recognition of how deep-set, how permanent, how personal sin is in each of us.
It is only in that way that we can begin to put real chains on sin: by recognizing the truth about it. We must learn to face the truth about ourselves, so that we can better ourselves: we must learn to face the truth about others, so we will recognize when murder is in their hearts.
We are born with murder in our hearts. I struggle trying to explain to my family to reason, purpose, and motivation for my faith. Atheist, or blandly accommodationist in their faith traditions, my family views my conversion experience and specific Christian faith as a departure from reason.
I struggle to find common ground on which to bridge the gap between a “go your own and sundry way” universalism, and the world of stark contrasts I inhabit, a world of evil and good, choices that lead quite convincingly to either redemption, or hell.
This essay touches on the essence of the “natural man,” what those on my side of the theological divide call the “sinful nature.”
We are born with murder in our hearts.
This is not an idle, theological exercise. It is a matter of most urgent import, this learning about the smell of death, or the necessity of bloody hands. As Grim warns:
Armed Liberal is right. Modern society has given many, for the first time, the problem of clean hands. It has yet to teach them how to overcome that problem.
Learn, now or then. War brings a lesson for all of us, and we have a choice only in so far as how soon we wish to learn.
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