The Blame Game
I remember sitting in class hearing the same theme over and over again. It kept creeping up in all of my criminal justice courses. At first I didn't recognize it, but it became more and more apparent as time went on. It didn’t sit well with me. The arguments on the surface seemed logical. The data and the reasoning appeared to be correct. Yet, something about it wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t pin it down. It was like everything I thought was correct maybe wasn’t. But I knew what I was being told just could not be the right answer. It was all about who was responsible for those that were imprisoned. In every class it was about, who is ultimately responsible for those in jail? Who is really to blame for the high numbers of those incarcerated? For the staggering recidivism rate of those that left prison (meaning they repeat the same crime and end up back in jail)? At whose feet does the rise in crime lie?
Then it finally dawned on me. I realized what was bothering me so much; the person that committed the crime was never to blame! The responsibility was always on someone or something else. It was our correctional system, the lawmakers for the laws they wrote, the judges, the family upbringing, the lack of education, there was no supportive structure for them, society as a whole failed them, their race, the social workers, the probation officers and on and on and on. It was all theory about broken systems in society. It was never about the person being responsible for their own actions. On top of all of that, all of the solutions taught to me had nothing to do with the criminal accepting responsibility for their actions. These prisoners are a product of their society. And so if they are broken, our society broke them.
I reflect on those school days now as I look out across the attitude of our populus and see so much of that today. We collectively love to blame. If something happens we quickly look to deflect and evade any responsibility. Instead of being like David; “Against you, you only have I sinned”, we are more like Adam; “It was the woman” and Eve; “It was the serpent”. We will blame anyone or anything as long as we don’t have to admit we are wrong. It was my parents, my education, it’s the government, my boss is unreasonable, I can’t help what I cannot control, it’s my race, it was my upbringing, I was never given a chance, I can’t help it, did you see what they did? etc. Even to the point where a lot of political policy is about it being someone else’s responsibility and not your own. You can’t help yourself if you are poor, uneducated or jobless. We say things like, “Stop blaming yourself!”
Is this biblical? Hardly. The word of God is very clear that we are responsible for what we do. Generally what happens to us is based on our actions or inactions: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8) We are responsible for providing for ourselves: . “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) And we will be ultimately responsible to God when we face him: “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them” (Ezekiel 18:20)
We must take a lot of caution with this attitude around us. It is a wind of doctrine that can sweep you away. It is easier to blame, than accepting fault. It is very humbling to say you did something wrong. It is natural to think you do nothing wrong. But we must accept responsibility for our actions! This is a core part of the Gospel. If we are to ever be spiritually healed we must admit we did something wrong. If we are ever going to be forgiven we have to admit we sinned. It is only “If we confess our sins,” that, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) This is why denying any responsibility is so enticing to the world. It is based on believing that you are good and ok and right. That anything wrong is from outside of you, not inside. We need to reject any movement, philosophy, belief or cause that passes blame onto others.
This also means looking more in the mirror whenever there is a problem. Because a lot of times we will admit we are wrong when it is an obvious action. But what about our emotions? Feelings? We need to take ownership of them too. We need to be more responsible with our attitude. Let me show you what I mean. Ever get bugged by someone? Was it what they did or could it be that you were too impatient? Isn’t saying that it was their actions that bugged you passing blame? Ever feel irritated because people weren’t pulling their weight? Could it possibly be that maybe you need to be more gracious with others? Ever hate someone who is so rigid and disciplined? Maybe that is bothering you because you are lazy. Has anyone ever gotten you mad? By saying they “got” us mad, are we not passing blame for our sin of anger? Quite possibly we need to confess that we have to be more understanding. This happens often without even thinking. We “feel” in a negative way and we know exactly who or what is to blame for this. Without even realizing it we are probably on a daily basis blaming our sinful thoughts, words, feelings and actions on everything and anything but the one who is ultimately responsible...US! Confess your sins. Ask the Holy Spirit to awaken yourself to what you don’t see. Don’t excuse anything that He convicts in your heart. Humbly go to God and ask for forgiveness. It is what we all need.