Sin and the Hostile World: Changing One’s Worldview

Guest post by Melody

There are roughly three ways of looking at the world, the universe, and nature: it is inherently hostile, it is indifferent, or it is loving  – three very different positions with quite huge consequences for one’s worldview. This past week, I realized that while I rationally see nature as basically indifferent—it simply is, it exists for its own sake; we are the ones that add the value, for better or for worse—I emotionally still see the world as hostile sometimes.

I was raised in a typical Evangelical fashion. Everyone is a sinner. The ‘world’ is hostile towards us—no one ever focused on our own hostility towards this so-called evil world—but God is on our side, so we will win eventually. The indoctrination, combined with my own personal negative experiences, led me to believe that yes, people were all bad at their core and so was the world, and so was I. It’s no surprise that such a belief does not help with feeling comfortable either on this earth or within one’s own skin.

Beliefs can be very harmful and divisive. In this scenario, there is always an enemy. There is always some sort of (spiritual) war going on. This war rhetoric also creates an intensity to one’s normal everyday life that may not be meant for anything else except real threatening situations. If there are demons and spiritual attacks everywhere, normal life will never be boring. This sounds a lot better than it is though, because a little boring is good. It is peaceful and restful. This state of calm hardly exists in people who see a spiritual threat on every corner, in every book they read, in every person they meet. They get worn out fighting imaginary threats.

To them, the world is hostile. Jesus was persecuted and we will be too. Jesus suffered at the hands of unbelievers and we will too: just look at all the signs! In order to hold onto this view, negative experiences get magnified and all good ones get disregarded, creating a huge negative spiral. Because I personally felt that some people were not trustworthy, I could myself easily believe that we were all sinful at heart; that no one but God could be trusted. I have believed this for the longest time. There were pastors who were untrustworthy in our church, family members who were untrustworthy… I could go on. It was far too easy to believe that sin was winning in this world, that the dark was winning and we absolutely, definitely needed God. All of us.

Now, I’m trying to change my worldview; to no longer see myself as a bad sinful person who has to do good things to make up for that, but who will always fail, because, doesn’t the Bible, in Romans 3:10, say that: “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one’”? Seeing myself as bad, as well as everyone else, does nobody any good. That is not to say that bad people do not exist: clearly some people are rapists, murderers etc. But the concept of us all being sinful beings and everyone as inherently bad does so much harm. Most people are neither entirely good nor entirely bad—nor do they have to be—there are shades of grey everywhere, possibly even more than fifty…

At the moment, I see the world as indifferent. There’s too much darkness in this world for me to see it as loving, but I also no longer want to see it as hostile either. Besides, for it to be either one of those, there would have to be someone or something that made the world so; and that is precisely the belief I have given up — the belief that everything and everyone is a helpless pawn in a huge fight between invisible beings. There is no God with a good plan for the world as there is no Devil with a bad one. The earth simply is and we are on it  as long as we manage not to destroy it, which we unfortunately might.

I want to see myself — and others — as a good person who may sometimes make mistakes, instead of as someone who has to do good to redeem herself without there ever even being a real possibility that she can succeed in doing so. Evangelical Christianity has the power to break people like that, because there is never even any point in trying. Everyone is sinful and will remain so; all good things one does are by God’s power and strength anyway. This view of humanity and life is pitch-black. It’s not easy to preserve one’s mental health in such a setting; it might even be impossible.

Mostly I want to find rest and peace within myself, to accept myself and others, to accept the indifference of nature and people alike; to move from a worldview where there’s a constant spiritual war to one where there is just as much uncertainty, but where there are no evil intentions behind that uncertainty — a life where good and bad exist but where they are not handed out on purpose.

(1) http://newlife.com/emb/bounce-your-eyes/ is a clear example of this state of mind. It’s about men staying pure of thought: they might need to avoid billboards—change their route to work if necessary—or the beach. It’s easy to laugh at but it is also heartbreaking because that is not an easy way to live, or a way to live at all. It is choking all joy out of life.

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4 Comments

  1. Sam

    Wow what a horrible way to think of everything, it makes me even more grateful for the way my parents raised me, they taught me not to judge and if someone fucks up but says sorry and doesn’t do it again then give them a second chance coz most people are good. But they also said only one second chance.
    I don’t think people are born bad, people who rape, murder and so on either have had really really bad upbringings, were neglected and never taught how to live in society or have something wrong with their brain and can’t learn empathy or things that stop others from committing those crimes. Not saying they shouldn’t be punished just I don’t believe they are born bad

    Reply
    1. Melody

      Yes, it is a horrible way to think. It makes everything and everyone so dark which is very strange for a faith that is all about hope. But it can only sell that hope of goodness through Christ and goodness in heaven, if a dark picture is painted of the world first.

      I agree that people aren’t born bad, but life or being say a sociopath or narcissist has made them that way.

      Reply
  2. Trenton

    Great post Melody, For the most part i agree with you that people aren’t born bad but i do think that ignorance, indoctrination, and sheer stupidity can also cause people to do bad things as well. I can relate to this post because im going through the same process myself in regard to my outlook on humanity. ultimately, I think most people, consiously or not, make decisions based on surviving and getting ahead in this life the best way they can. Doesnt make them evil, but more like everybody else. Of course there are the exceptions to the rule so take my comments with a grain of sodium chloride and just remember that humans are the third most intelligent species on the computer named earth after mice and dolphins. lastly the meaning of life the universe and everything is 42 so dont panic.?

    Reply
    1. Melody

      Thanks! Indoctrination doesn’t help, especially when it’s this divisive idea of ‘us’ being better than ‘them.’

      Looking out for yourself first is a very human thing to do and I also think most people do so. Christians are sometimes taught a little too much to look out for others, dying of self, that sort of thing. It doesn’t help much with learning to be more assertive.

      “lastly the meaning of life the universe and everything is 42 so dont panic.?”

      That’s good to know 😉

      Reply

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