I don’t know anyone who revels in their sin. Honestly… I see human beings trying desperately to self medicate trauma, injury, emptiness, pain, religious indoctrination, loneliness, misunderstood identity, fear, and isolation. Don’t mistake the wounded for the evil. For one is not the other.
Human beings were built for inclusive community. We were built for Love to manifest among us… radiate uninhibited through us. We were designed for connection, relationship, knowing, being known, operating out of our strengths to bouey up a brother with weaknesses in the area of our natural aptitude. Independence was never in the mind of the One who is One. Self sufficiency was never in the natural order of things. There is not a creature on earth that would survive outside a family, an ecosystem, an atmosphere. When one of these is decimated, it creates a need to adapt and operate outside of the inherent design for every creature. We don’t judge an animal for trying a new food supply, or migrating outside the habitat they were born into. We stand up and applaud when we find a species we thought were extinct that found a way to survive in a different corner of the wild.
But our fellow man… the one who looks for sustenance, love, basic needs, shelter… and goes about it on a road less travelled, or by and large, avoided? This uniquely designed person bears the full weight of judgement, both religious and societal. Moreover, we seem to think it is our right to use them as the scapegoat for our own infirmities. O, Race of Man, are we really that insecure, that things must ever be labelled and boxed and categorized?
I have moved among the masses little in comparison to many, but even I have yet to meet a soul that behaves in a way that their past is independent of. All human behaviour is based on one’s level of personal security in a given moment. If we feel unloved, we behave as one unlovely. If we fear scarcity, ostracization, elimination, invisibility, abandonment, loss, hunger, lack of any kind, we behave in dishonest, unkind, selfish ways. We all present poorly when our fears drive us.
But, Love, in whom there is no fear to be found, brings about Life, in which no error binds us, and no internal belief has the right to hold us in a poor pattern. There is freedom to function beautifully in community within the open lap of Love. There is no need to manipulate a situation for our own gain if the belief is that there is enough for all, including us. Society has tried to mitigate this mindset with laws, social programs, social justice movements, human rights, and charity. Religion has tried to equalize us all by belief alone… usually beginning at the assumption that we are all equally evil and requiring redemption of the most drastic measure. Neither option avails the human of the intrinsic worth that prevents misdirected mindsets. Only deep connection can do that. Only Love.
Within Love is abundance, hope, possibility, intrinsic worth, understanding, beauty, connection, clear vision. Love is honest, and incapable of seeking harm, for others, or for self. It is also empty of judgement. This amazes me, because I grew up in a culture that confused discernment with judgement, and called it protection. One assesses, the other labels in permanent ink. It assumes that duality, or separation of good from evil is a necessary component of a holy, or spiritual life. The idea that choices can be made out of emotion… or that wounds might skew decision making capabilities doesn’t really enter the discussion. One simply appears capable of following the “good” rules, or seems to selfishly tread after the “evil” pursuits.
Of course, rather than the Healing that Love would bring the person who is protecting their wounds, the assumption is made that one must engage in repentance and put their life “right.” But they can’t. If one is truly out of order in the exercise of life in community, it is safe to perceive that they may not have the tools to be good. No amount of being sorry can change their hearts or renew their mind. It cannot draw them up. Make them stand with confidence or view another through a lens well lit with well understood identity. Showing a person the error of their ways cannot bring about change. It can, however, make them feel depressed, defeated, uncared for, unseen, and unloved. Which, if I recall from my own bouts with the admonishment to search my own heart for wickedness at regular intervals in my early life, often leads to a secret life of all the things one feels guilty about, and a public denial of their presence.
But repentance, which is a change of mind cannot be wallowed in, is not penance, which, however can become self flagellation. Defining ourselves by our list of iniquity, dishonours the being we are, imagined by our Maker.
The mantra of religion has long been the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin.” It has been used to judge, label and categorize. It has been used as an excuse to avoid knowing our fellow human beings. Anything our brand of theology doesn’t want to touch can be excluded without interference from our conscience. It keeps us distant and aloof.
But my fellow oxygen breathers… if our theology prevents horizontal connection with our neighbours or our world, it requires assessment. If the god we serve gives us the right to judge the behaviour of another outside the context of their story, our beliefs need inspection more than that person needs our external opinion. What we think at the core of our being dictates our behaviour. If a human being is behaving in a way that is inhumane, to themselves, or someone else, it is not because they are abusing their “freedom.” I put it to you, that this is the outcome of not seeing oneself through the Lens of Love. They literally see no other way out of their turmoil, and providing a map or a step by step program isn’t the answer. What worked for you may not work for them, because experience has formed different neural pathways in their brain than you have in yours. You can hand someone a recipe to bake a cake, but if they’ve never seen an oven before, they’ll never bake it. You may have to bake it with them. You may have to be with someone. Listen, understand, work within their template. You may have to Love them. You may also have to let them tweak the recipe according to their taste. There are no life formulas, there is only life lived.
Don’t mistake the wounded for the evil. One is not the other. And you may find, that the one does not exist at all.