While many may not agree with me, I’d like to point out a denial of Biblical truth that has permeated modern thinking and leads to flawed approaches to dealing with what psychologists and sociologists would call deviant or pathological behavior — deviant being contrary to socially accepted norms, and pathological often being associated with mental deficiencies and mental illness.
Modern thinking views man as basically good. And, where deviant or socially unacceptable behavior occurs, the cause is not sought in the person but in the environment in which he or she lives or was raised or in some sort of mental disease or disorder. That is why, when evils like senseless shootings occur, people immediately begin looking at mental illness or the accessibility to guns as the cause and think that a more healthful and weapon-free environment would prevent such acts of violence and mayhem.
The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that all mankind is fallen. It teaches that we are by birth self-centered and incapable of pure selfless love and good toward God or toward our fellow man and are capable of — and even inclined toward — evil. This does not mean that people cannot do what society considers good and right or live what society considers an upright life. It does mean that the reasons and motivation for doing so are not so selfless and pure as we may wish people would believe. People do good for a reason, whether it be financial gain, public acclaim or just to feel good or better about themselves. And, yes, people sometimes do deeds almost all would agree are terribly evil — sometimes for the same or similar reasons.
The Bible teaches that the fall of Genesis 3 affects us all. “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). God’s Word teaches: “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21; cf. 6:5). And David wrote in Psalm 51, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (v. 5).
I might add that one of the reasons I find the Bible so believable is that it tells the truth about mankind and about me. Nothing is whitewashed or covered over; even some of the greatest personages in the Bible fell into terrible transgressions and sins.
While the philosophy of the modern world teaches that we are all basically good, the Word of God says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).
We may not like to think it of ourselves, but we all have a propensity to do great evil. While we may not have carried out crimes against others, whether it be because of our fear of God or because we fear human disapproval or punishments, we’ve all at times had thoughts of evil too shameful to tell.
While modern philosophical thinking looks to prevent deviant behavior by controlling the environment and rewarding socially accepted behavior, those who hold to the Biblical view of fallen man recognize that evil does and will exist in this world no matter how stringently the environment is controlled. Rather than pretending all can be well, those who believe the Bible face man’s evil propensity with deterrents — the teaching of God’s authority and of His judgment, upholding Biblical moral absolutes, and enacting laws and punishments based on Biblical principles.
If all of this sounds foreign to you, consider that America’s founders recognized man’s propensity to evil and, to limit evil’s effect, divided power between the states and the federal government and even further divided powers within the federal government to limit the powers of any one man or any group of men.
Along with the Bible’s teaching in regard to the fall and sinfulness of man is also a Biblical remedy: forgiveness and a new birth and life from God through faith in Jesus Christ. The Biblical doctrine of the fall doesn’t leave man wallowing hopelessly in his fallenness. It calls upon sinners to repent and offers God’s pardon and a new life for the sake of Jesus Christ, God the Son made man, who paid the just penalty for all sins and gives new life to believers here in this world and a life free of all evil and sin in the age to come.
What’s my point? If the Biblical view of man is true — and I am convinced it is — the attempts of sociologists, psychologists, politicians, teachers and society to rid the world of evil and prevent acts of violence and mayhem by cleansing the environment of poverty, inequality, bullying, intolerance, guns, drugs, etc. will be of no avail. Evil and violence will still be with us because it is within us.
On the other hand, if we wish to minimize its impact and devastation, we need to teach the truth about sin and God’s remedy in Jesus Christ, return to Biblical moral absolutes, truly punish criminals, and allow people to defend themselves against coarse outbursts of evil.
[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]