Thursday, March 20, 2008


My professor Gary Sattler cited this quote in class.  It is from the 1983 movie Big Chill

Michael: I don't know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They're more important than sex.
Sam Weber: Ah, come on. Nothing's more important than sex.
Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

Sam (Tom Berenger) typifies our obsession with sex.  I'm more interested with Michael (Jeff Goldblum) insight into rationalization.  I couldn't go a day, let alone a week, without a "juicy rationalization."  Every day I justify my choices, actions, decisions, etc.

Think about it.  Why do you do what you? 
-Why did you put on that shirt today?
-Why didn't you call your Mom last night?
-Why do you want to go out to eat for Chinese and not Mexican?
-Why are you speeding on your way to work?
-Why do you like that song so much?

O.k. there is obviously a point to where this just gets neurotic and unhelpful.  If you question every decision you'll dissect your soul until there is nothing left but little fragments of a self.  However there is a healthy awareness, a generous vigiliance, needed in our lives.  There is no place this is needed more than in areas of sin.  Whereas the above questions are mostly pointless and have little redemptive value, we need to question sin.

In sin we rationalize and justify our actions.  

For instance:  I stole the money because I needed it.  I punched him because I was mad.  I cheated on my wife because I don't feel attracted to her anymore. 

I think the best way to reconcile sin is to question it. 

For instance.  Why do you need the money?  Why were you mad?  Why don't you feel attracted to her anymore? 

This is the point where most people just give up and walk away.  We think these questions are just a Freudian attempt to get to our "real self" and undo all that society, parents, and pop culture has plagued us with.  Like if we are able to remove all the layers of the onion than the "core" our "real identity" will emerge and thus we will be a better person.  (Jungian psychology) 

I would give up and walk away too.  There is only so much I can unwind and dissect myself.  Eventually I feel so undressed and exposed in my weakness.

But there is no power in sin when it is undone before God.  When I question my sin I don't try to get to a more "ideal self" but I open myself up to being forgiven and reconciled to something far larger than a "real self."  (I am not trying to live my story better, but I am being swallowed up by God's story.  So in light of the Easter season I am reminded to take my sin and crucify it.   But like Christ, the crucifixion is not something I can do on my own.  It is a part of being obedient to where God is calling me to go. 

So my challenge isn't necessarily to "unrationalize" your sin, but to rather crucify your sin and find redemption in the resurrection.  So when you feel undressed, exposed, and weak you are clothed with the mercy of power of Christ. 

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature
Romans 13:14

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