Unfortunately, you are also your greatest fan. Of course it is never really your fault. From the first couple on earth to the teenagers in your living room, buck-passing is a trick that never gets old.
The woman made me do it. The serpent made me do it. My classmates made me do it. The violent video game made me do it. There’s always someone else – something else to blame.
For Ted Bundy, it was his chronic addiction to pornography. Over a period of 20 years, Bundy blazed a dark trail of rape, mutilation and murder of more than 50 women. Of all the reasons why he ended up doing what he did, his addiction to porn was the most surprising.
“Once you become addicted to it, and I look at this as a kind of addiction, you look for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Like an addiction, you keep craving something which is harder and gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far – that jumping off point where you begin to think maybe actually doing it will give you that which is just beyond reading about it and looking at it,” he told Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson in an interview before his execution.
Yet, even though most of his actions were an enactment of his fantasies, Bundy never once thought of himself as the victim of circumstances. Despite the external influences, the abusive upbringing, and his alienating personality, Bundy was a hundred percent fully responsible for what he did.
“Before we go any further, it is important to me that people believe what I’m saying. I’m not blaming pornography. I’m not saying it caused me to go out and do certain things. I take full responsibility for all the things that I’ve done. That’s not the question here. The issue is how this kind of literature contributed and helped mold and shape the kinds of violent behavior.”
How often do we find ourselves engaging in endless polemics over nature versus nurture, predestination versus free will? Yet if we were really honest with ourselves; if we, for just a single moment, were to step outside ourselves and examined our intentions, we’d realize that the big question is not whether free-will exists or not; it is whether we are willing to own up our sins or not.
When it comes to the nature (and process) of sin, the Bible neither leans towards predetermination nor free will. In its typical paradoxical style, the Bible mixes the two:
“Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” [James 1:14-15]
At first, it is not our fault. Then it becomes our fault. The pattern of moral degradation outlined by James is clear: desire – deception – decision – death. Desire and deception are beyond our control. They happen to us. But the decision is ours. Eve had no control over what the serpent told her. She could not control the deception. But she had control over what she did about it. She chose to be deceived, and she made this choice by deciding to act on the deception. God holds us accountable for the second half of the equation, not the first. In the interval between deception and decision is where nature kisses nurture, predetermination kisses choice.
Jesus reiterates a similar point:
“Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” [Mark 7:15]
Does this, therefore, mean that it doesn’t matter what we expose ourselves to? What we watch? Whom we hang out with?
No, it means that even though external factors condition, deceive and make it easier for us to fall into sin, we cannot blame those factors. It means that even though we may avoid temptations, we cannot avoid ourselves. It means that even though we do our best to dwell on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy… all this is dung if we are not FIRST looking towards HIM WHO IS ALL THESE THINGS.
It means that even though it is noble to flee the devil, it is more important (and foundational) to run towards Golgotha.
For therein hangs any hope of our being changed from the inside out.
For the fame of His name,