Avoiding Responsibility

While discussing the topic of banking last Friday at work, our presenter commented on how people’s attitudes toward bankruptcy have changed over the past few decades. Whereas thirty or forty years ago, declaring bankruptcy was the sort of thing that one would try to keep under the rug, many today boast about the number of times they have declared bankruptcy. For many, it no longer functions as a last resort, but rather as a scapegoat for the responsibility of owning up to the incredible debts they have racked up.

We briefly discussed how this mindset of offsetting the blame for one’s actions is manifested elsewhere in our society. Take, for example, the thief who locked himself in his victim’s garage while they were away for the weekend. Somehow this guy won a lawsuit arguing that the homeowner should have had a way to get out of the garage from the inside.

In his book, The Jesus of Suburbia, Mike Erre provides another example of blame-shifting:

Why is it, I wondered, that the Playboy Foundation is one of the biggest supporters of abortion on demand? Is it because of their deep and abiding concern for the equality and objective value of women, or is something else behind it? I argued that our current system legitimates male irresponsibility by allowing men to merely offer to pay for the “procedure” if their girlfriend gets pregnant; if she chooses to keep the child instead, he is off the hook. p. 162, emphasis added

Initially, I thought this attempt to avoid responsibility was something that came about recently. Although in many senses it is more prevalent now than a few decades ago, this is not a new issue we, as human beings, are facing. Rather, it is a behavior manifested by the very first man and woman to walk on the earth. Look at Adam and Eve’s response to God when he asks them, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate."
13 And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"
The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
Genesis 3:12-13

God’s question is initially directed at Adam. Rather than acknowledging his direct disobedience to God’s command (Genesis 2:16), Adam blames God, arguing that the woman God gave him shared the fruit with him and he ate. Eve’s response is similar. She does not confess her sin but rather places the blame on the serpent, who deceived her.

More important than bankruptcy or “male irresponsibility” is our attempt to avoid responsibility for our sin. John writes:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-9

When we deny our sinfulness, the Truth is not in us; we die in our sins and trespasses. However, when we confess that we are sinners, God forgives us and gives us life. This is all made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection, in which he took the punishment for, the responsibility for our sins upon himself. As Paul writes, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

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