By Randy Blackaby
Jason, a 14-year-old, is summoned to the principal’s office at school. His teacher has reported that he used abusive, foul language to another student. Before the principal can even inquire of Jason about the circumstances, the youngster blurts out, “It ain’t my fault!”
“What do you mean it wasn’t your fault?” the principal asks quizzically.
“Well Johnny called me a name first,” Jason declares with full assurance of personal exoneration.
The principal then begins to tell Jason that he is account-able for his own behavior, regardless of what others do, but he notices that the lecture isn’t being absorbed. Jason is sure he didn’t do anything wrong.
This scenario is repeated in a thousand ways every day in schools, ball parks, and homes across our country.
But the sadder fact is that these youngsters learned these situational ethics from people old enough to know better. They hear this logic from parents, teachers, coaches, and friends all the time.
Few people seem willing to accept responsibility for their actions, especially their mistakes. It is always the fault of someone else, or a whole group of someone elses (society) or the combined tribulations of life (environment).
Two brothers in California murder their parents. When caught and tried, their defense is fundamentally that their parents caused them to commit murder. One trial ends in a hung jury, with half the jurors accepting that logic.
Thousands and thousands of marriages fall apart because spouses excuse their own unloving behavior on the basis of evils done or said to them. The “tit for tat” game continues to escalate until the marriage is destroyed.
Imagine the changes that could come if folks could simply say, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” How much different the world would be if more people were committed to practicing unilateral righteousness.
Great men and women are able to admit their mistakes. Many years ago there was a king who saw another man’s wife bathing outdoors, lusted after her and ultimately committed adultery with her. To cover up his deed, when she became pregnant, he had her husband killed.
A friend came to him and confronted him with his terrible behavior. The king could have silenced his friend by killing him or denying responsibility. But he didn’t. He said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” That king’s name was David (2 Samuel 11-12). He is described in Scripture as “a man after God’s own heart.”
Contrast David’s decision to admit his errors, accept forgiveness, and try to live better with the denial mentality that permeates contemporary thinking.
Much of this denial philosophy has emanated from mod-ern psychology. Until very recently, most psychological counseling was pointed at relieving people of “guilt.” This relief, however, was not achieved by accepting guiltiness and repenting. It was sought by denying responsibility or shifting accountability.
It is almost comical the number of personal problems that have been blamed on “mother” and negative “environments.”
In fact, this problem has gotten so bad that learning and education are today impaired. Children can’t even be told they have the wrong answer or made a mistake playing base-ball. We have to worry about their “self-image.”
When little Johnny can’t read or write, when he can’t hit or catch a baseball, when he can’t get along with anyone, or hold a job or keep his marriage together it certainly must be someone else’s fault.
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 22, p. 6
November 16, 1995