Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The End of Self-Examination

In the final post on self-examination, we look at two possible outcomes of the practice.

Many will examine their lives and see no need for change. The twentysomethings who see no need for change at this point unknowingly chart a course for the rest of their lives. Amoral college students grow up to be amoral parents. Those who dislike the restrictions of moral absolutes when twenty will pass on such a disinclination to their children. Is it any wonder today's twentysomethings generally operate by a me-first, hedonistic, moral-lite ethic? They weren't trained by a generation of morals-driven parents. They were raised between the walls of moral autonomy and hedonism. How surprising that they build houses of remarkably similar stamp. They did nothing but take the blueprints of their parents.

Those who fail to change upon self-examination will live lives characterized by a steadfast selfishness flavored with a heavy dose of relativism. They will see no problem killing their unborn creations, labeling "tissue" what they should call "beloved." They will reject the labeling of some lifestyles as right and others as wrong and call "preference" what they should call "perversity." They will change their face, their nose, their job, their spouse, and title "happiness" what they should call "greed." These are the bitter fruits of the unchecked, unguided, unbound life. They may look attractive, but they leave a poisonous taste on the lips.

Those who examine themselves and find their lives lacking, wrongly driven, and sinful will perhaps find another way. That way was spoken of thousands of years ago by a man who had tasted the world's finest. Rather than finding sweetness on his lips, though, he found only bitterness on them. He lived hedonistically to the extreme, indulging every desire of his body and mind without limit. He lived a life of fantasy, experienced the stuff of legend, and yet came away from it all entirely disenchanted. Having trodden upon the promises of life, having wasted so many of his days, he turned to the only good answer to the questions of self-examination. He turned to God. He turned away from the behaviors he knew by his conscience to be sin and fell deeply in love with God. That, after all, is the only truly good response to self-examination. Repentance, not excess. Faith, not indulgence. The love of Christ, not the love of the world. These are the ends of self-examination. Solomon discovered this, and chronicled his thoughts in Ecclesiastes and Lamentations. They are worthy tools for self-examination.


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