Tuesday, February 16, 2010

on the prelapsarian purpose of innate tendencies and the consequences of their corruption (or how we screw up what is Good)

when i think i have identified something common and apparently innate to people in general or to a subset of people, i tend to wonder where it came from and why it is that way. if it is truly innate, then it was created. and if it was created then it is--or at least was--good. so what, then, are we to do with characteristics that seem innate but are decidedly not good?

a friend and i were talking yesterday about how women can't seem to avoid making comparisons, be they about our children, our homes, our clothes, our husbands, our jobs, our bodies, our talents, our shoes. this tendency is rarely if ever used for good; usually, we end up feeling even worse about ourselves for having compared ourselves to others, or, even worse still, we end up hurting each other in the process as we try to make ourselves feel better about our perceived lacks.

but if a trait is truly innate, then the fact that it is generally used for evil proves nothing more than the pervasiveness of the fall. even those things which seem innately bad were once indended for good. if you buy the assumption that women's tendency to compare is in fact innate and therefore created--a big assumption, i know, and you know what happens when you assume, so thanks for hanging with me on this--and if you agree that in its current form, this is a decidedly negative tendency, then what logical conclusion can we draw about its prelapsarian purpose? that is to say, before it was ruined by the fall, what was God's purpose in creating this innate tendency? what good was it designed for before satan entered in to the picture and corrupted it?

i have no idea. it's hard to imagine, isn't it?

but here's the thing: i do believe in the principle of it, that is, that if something is truly innate, then that innate quality was in fact created for good. why does that matter? because don't you--i do, at least--find yourself very often thinking things like, "all men are that way," or "why do women always do that?" we think in absolutes so often, and in categorical absolutes at that. when i think that way, then, i am encouraged to remind myself that even these apparently negative ubiquitous traits have at their root something Good-with-a-capital-G. because God is that way--Good, that is--and He declared creation and man Good and Very Good. so although i can't say i understand what is good about women's tendency to make comparisons--comparisons are odious, said someone wise some-once--i do believe that at its root, if that tendency is truly innate, then it was once good. Good, even.

call me foolishly hopeful, if you will. rose-colored glasses? i'll take them.

1 comment:

TwoSquareMeals said...

Maybe it comes from the part of us that is to look at things and call them "good." Unfortunately, we can't see the good in things without also seeing ourselves as better or worse than we actually are. The sin comes in a wrong way of seeing ourselves and others. The valuing of people is work in the image of God, who called creation "good," but our vision has been distorted. I think I am being unclear, but maybe you can make sense of it...