Thursday, September 29, 2016

Being Normal

One of the standards of our culture (derived from psychological thinking) is that we should be normal. Many work hard to accomplish this. Others rebel against it and preen themselves that they are not normal. The question is, is this a good standard? One of the beliefs of the humanistic revolution was that human beings are basically good, and with education (often with an emphasis of eliminating belief in God), they should be able to take control of their destiny and their world. There have been a number of events that have happened since then that have shown it is not that easy. One proposed solution to this is that life has left us mentally tangled, and if we can undo the knots, we can realize our real potential, that education alone cannot accomplish. This idea was reinforced by the fact that there were individuals with blatant psychological problems who desperately needed help and lacked any clear means to meet that need. Therefore, there grew up an idea that if we could just get rid of our psychological foibles and be normal, we could correct all the problems human nature currently exhibits.

Christianity, however, claims we are not basically good, but self-centered and rebellious. Though there still remains in us some remnant of the moral standards which were put in us originally. But God has made the provision through Jesus Christ to forgive and change us. But this change only takes place in those who come to God and is a process that takes place slowly, over time. Also, God's standard does not always correspond to what is commonly understood as normal, which comes from a humanistic standard of morality. Therefore, we are all not normal. We are all a mixture of good and bad and are not where we should be. And it cannot be changed if we do not trust God, and even then, we are all people still in process and there is no shortcut to get there.

Therefore, we certainly need to look for ways to help those with debilitating psychological problems (whether the source of these is biochemical or confused thought or some mixture of both). And psychology is a legitimate discipline in so far as it seeks to answer these questions (though I believe it is still in its infancy). But we should beware of being constrained by an artificial standard of normality. Such a standard, which requires immediate, total obedience, can become a legalistic taskmaster. Rather, we should turn to God, who forgives sins and offers the power to overcome them. For humanism does not eliminate legalism; it only eliminates the God who can forgive and heal it.   

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