Monday, January 04, 2010

How to Not Become Corrupted

You don't.

Sorry. Bad news.

There is this mentality amongst us in the church that we need to stay out of things 'of the world,' so we don't become corrupted by the evil that is rampant in it.

As if for a second that there is anything "out there" that isn't already present in us. As if there was anything that we could do ourselves that would result in ratcheting up our own 'holiness level.'

In my opinion, this idea is propagated by inappropriate interpretations of specific Bible verses--and other reasons that would be too long to get into. One of the verses that I have heard used in defense of this mindset is Proverbs 4:23.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

This would lead you to think that you need to guard your heart and protect it from the evils wanting to enter into it...right? That would mean our heart was something good, pure, wholesome that we needed to defend. But how does that match up with other verses speaking about the heart? Oh, like, say, Jeremiah 17:9?
The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
If the heart--that is, our inner self, the seat of our emotions, our will, our mind, etc--is most deceitful and desperately wicked, what could we possibly protect it from?

How could it get more defiled than it already starts out as?

But, what if the guard is on the wrong side of the door? What if it's that we're not supposed to be guarding against things entering our heart and defiling it, but instead guarding against the wickedness that is inside from spilling out? Like some kind of contaminated toxic pond?

What does Jesus think?

I'd say Jesus is much more in favor of this kind of interpretation. He kinda gets all cranky about this after the Pharisees were being tools, as usual:
After he called the crowd to him again he began saying to them, "Listen to me all of you and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man."
Mark 7:14-15
And in typical Jesus fashion, he goes on to explain in further detail later on that it is from the hearts of mankind  that all evil thoughts, murders, greed, wickedness, sexual immorality, deceit, pride, foolishness, etc etc come from.

That all of these things are already inside of us! That there is nothing we can do to stop ourselves from being corrupted, that we are already destroyed by our own hearts. The very thing (our heart) that makes us who we are is what corrupts and destroys us, from the inside. Never from the outside.

Seems like a pretty hopeless situation for anyone who wants to try to modify themselves into being better.

Seems like what you really need instead is to be changed from what you are inside into something else.

That the source of that "well spring of life" that Proverbs 4 mentions needs to come from a different spring. One that isn't toxic.

And that is something we are completely incapable of doing ourselves. That is what God must do for us, in somehow transforming our heart into...or perhaps more accurately, replacing it that isn't (as Jer. says) most deceitful. Or desperately wicked.

And that this new heart isn't corruptible. That there is nothing to fear of recontamination. Because it's not possible.

Because it's not ours. We didn't make it, we can't destroy or pervert it. There is no fear of being corrupted again, because the corruption was inside and now is gone. Our will, our seat of emotions, our mind, our heart, our very mental being has been removed--and better, replaced.

And it's not coming back from the music you listen to, the food you eat, the people you hang out with, the clothes you wear, the school you go to, the books you read or the movies you watch. Those outside things can not and will not corrupt you again.