Could we be more human?
Awhile ago, I went to the DMV to renew my driver’s license. When they handed me the shiny new plastic card with my sour photo on it, I saw a big letter next to my name. The letter signified that I was different from the other drivers on the road and had a disability. I noticed it then more than I ever had before and I kept staring at it, pondering what it stood for.
As long as I’ve been alive, my right eye has been considered “legally blind”. I can see very blurry versions of what I see in my left eye. I technically only see out of my left eye, so on my car, I need rear-view mirrors on both sides at all times. It’s never been something that I have felt impaired my life, but whenever I tell someone about it, there are always people who ask me what I think it would be like to have full vision. I tell them I have no idea and it probably wouldn’t even matter. I just know I think 3D movies are a waste of money.
My lazy eye has made me think about the nature of sin and how it works in our lives. I think our sins don’t breed in the malevolent, hand-wringing evil acts, but in the little mindless, immoral acts that impair us so unconsciously that we don’t notice a fuller existence is available without them. The little white lies. The secrets. Small acts of selfishness. Most people don’t even think of these things as wrong. These acts sit in the gray areas where it’s not quite ideal to do, but very few people will care what you personally do. Your impairment of the soul then becomes common and normal to the point where the value of virtue is made into a subjective item.
I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man which explains a philosophy that was just in it’s infancy during his day, but has grown into commonality in our day. He talks about “men without chests” -humans who find no objective human experience to draw from, but their own subjective feelings. This causes issues with the value of virtues, as Lewis points out:
In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.
I’m not finished with the book and I’m still trying to process a lot of what he’s saying, but I do understand this innate sense of virtue we humans have. It’s what drives us to be kind, gentle, compassionate, charitable, honest and so on. Yet, we impair the growth of these virtues in each other by refusing the demands these virtues place on us. We don’t pride on causing one another to excel in these virtues, but rather we choose not to judge one another in either being devoid of virtues or just ignoring them. As long as you’re not hurting anybody that’s all that matters, right?
Not that I’m going to get eye surgery any time soon, but if I knew that getting eye surgery to give me 20/20 vision would make me a better driver, let me see my children’s faces more clearly, give me better balance, etc., I would probably work to make that happen. In the same way, if we knew we could objectively have a better society and more fulfilling existences as humans by working on exercising our moral muscle, spurring each other on to selflessness an so on, we would be much more apt to rectify society’s ills.
This is something Christians should know. Most religious people know it actually, but I think Christianity has a more cohesive vision. C.S. Lewis clings to the idea of the Tao, which is the underlying pre-existence of everything and holds altogether, but what the Taoist call the Tao (pronounced Dao) is actually Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega. The Kingdom is built on virtue. The fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) that are meant to bear in each believer and the Beatitudes, which Jesus presented on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), are all meant to paint us a picture of the fullest human experience. Being fully alive and fully human is to be in Christ.
To bring this back around to my original point, sin is not our natural state. It may feel natural because it’s all we have ever known, but Christ, the Logos, the Eternal Tao came to us and not only showed us our true natural state – He redeemed our humanity. All that we call human in it’s fallen, impaired state was assumed by Him and that which He assumed, He redeemed, restored and repaired. We are now tasked with revealing that in ourselves and in each other.