What is Wrong with Us (Confessions Book II)

What makes us do wrong? Our world of CSI and crime shows would lead us to believe that our motives overwhelm us and we fall victim to our own responses to circumstances. Psychotherapists would have us believe we are products of our upbringing. Scientists would tell us it is all in our genes.
Our culture debates this question because it has ramifications for raising children, education, and criminal justice. And with every new education bill or every new justice bill we somehow find our way back to this question:
Why do we do things that are wrong?
Only when we answer this question can we achieve a better society.
Augustine continues to explore the nature of sin and rebellion in his own life and in the human condition in general. He talks about his lust, pride, and ambition and says nothing particularly insightful in this section.
His analysis gets interesting when he pauses to contemplate an act of theft. One day, while spending time with some friends, Augustine stole some pears from a nearby pear tree. He pauses on his pear theft and asks a very basic human question: Why did I do that?
While he examines he motive, he says, “When there is an inquiry to discover why a crime has been committed, normally no one is satisfied until it has been shown that the motive might have been either the desire of gaining, or the fear of losing” people, possessions, or positions. These are the common motives of the human condition.
But as he runs through the list of possible reasons for stealing the pears, he says:
It was not because I needed them. In fact, he said he already had plenty and what he had were better than the pears he stole. He said the pears on the tree did not even look good.
It was not because he wanted to eat them. Though they did eat some, most of them they threw to the pigs.

Then he asks the most haunting question of all, “Could I enjoy doing wrong for no other reason than that it was wrong?”
Then he says something that reveals just how deeply implanted our rebellion really is. He says that the reason he stole those pears was the pleasure of “doing something that was forbidden.” He says that he enjoyed doing it with others and ultimately admits, “For the sake of a laugh, a little sport, I was glad to do harm and anxious to damage another…”
We are inclined to sin and we do not need some great motive to do so. Though the problem is influenced by family, social settings, and genes, the truth is we do wrong because we want to do wrong. The problem, at its foundation, is spiritual.
Unfortunately, this answer to the problem of what is wrong with us is often dismissed or ignored


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