George Barna, in his book “What Americans Believe,” points out that 87 percent of non-Christians and 77 percent of self-described born-again Christians agreed with the statement “People are basically good.” Our culture by and large has discarded the idea of original sin.
The educated among us roll our eyes and snicker at the notion that certain actions, thoughts and behaviors are still deemed to be sinful. The very concept of sin seems a bit too Victorian to us. It is judgmental and prudish.
For the sophisticated, the very idea of “sin” has gone the way of the horse and buggy. It is an outdated and useless concept and has been replaced by more modern ways of understanding the human experience. Men and women are born good, and suggesting that anyone comes into this world with a corrupted nature and is guilty of sin is, well, a sin.
The irony of this modern denial of the historical understanding of human nature is that if you boil it down to its basic premise it is really nothing more than the celebration of the original sin: “We shall be as God.” We revel in our “whateverism.” We are the final measure of all things. We strut with confidence to the pulpit or to the podium and shout, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as it works for you.”
Confident in our narcissism, we proudly declare we are the ultimate judge and final arbiter. We have indeed found a god — and it is us. We know all things. We define everything. We will decide what is right and wrong, what is just and unjust, who’s telling the truth and who isn’t.
There is, however, a problem with this worldview and it can be summarized in four words: It is a lie.
G.K. Chesterton famously argued, the most provable aspect of all of Christian theology is that people are “bad.” We lie. We cheat. We deceive. We are arrogant and rude. We — all of us — are prone to sin. We are all tempted to love our politics more than people and to pursue our own gain rather than what is best and fair to others.
Billy Preston, that great pop “philosopher” of the 1970s, told us in his song “Nothing from Nothing” that sooner or later, nothing is always filled with something as people seek to make sense out of nonsense. The vacuum is always filled with either God’s principles or man’s protests, and when we disparage the immutable laws of nature and nature’s God, power always rushes in to fill the void.
This is why, our nation is one of laws and not one of men or women. Our constitutional republic assumes that there must be a positive balance of power to mitigate against the human tendency toward corruption. It assumes that sin always crouches at the door, waiting to rush into the vacuum unless there are controls in place to stop it.
Ignoring these facts of human nature and discarding the proven judicial principles set in place to control them, while naively accepting someone’s 35-year-old “memories” of Brett Kavanaugh’s teenage years is dangerous. It is foolish. It should scare all of us to death.
When you rip the blindfold off Lady Justice and force her to see sex and political affiliation you violate her and the wisdom and dignity she brings to the bench. When you force her to tip the scales in your direction you abuse her trust and compromise her very soul. When you discard due process, our legal system begins to look more like a lynch mob than it does a court of law.
When emotions replace facts, a posse will do just as well as a jury or a judge. When you reject the presumption of innocence and replace it with “guilty as accused,” rumor, hearsay, and gossip will become acceptable “proof” of the crime.
The vacuum will be filled.
Ignoring the reality of human nature and presuming someone is a saint and not a sinner is always a mistake. It is an error that has led to untold injustices throughout the course of human history. Despots are always in the waiting to tell us of their virtue. Mankind will always seek to find a “hero” to fill the “zero” created by our quest for political power.
The beauty of our legal system is that it judges not by the color of skin, or whether or not you are male or female, rich or poor, but by the content of your character. Our daily experience proves over and over again that all humans — women as well as men — are an innately depraved and sinful lot and character is something earned and proven, not something to be assumed.
It is a monumental mistake to enter into any hearings without first reminding ourselves that we are all broken human beings and the reason we have a U.S. Supreme Court in the first place is to protect us — all of us — from someone venturing false accusations that could devastate our careers, destroy our reputations and ruin our lives.
• Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is the author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).