Whatever Happened to Personal Responsibility

© Copyright 2011 by Joel R. Hall – All rights reserved

I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to a trend that I find very disturbing: passing the buck. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that blame shifting is a new activity for humans. After all, buck passing has been around since Adam and Eve. (“The woman you gave me…”) It might even be argued that it is one of the most fundamental of human traits. We simply hate to admit it when we are wrong. But the bothersome trend in question is not the good old-fashioned-caught-red-handed-shifting-of-blame-when-caught variety of buck passing. No, this trend is a much more insidious version of buck passing that I like to refer to as preemptive buck passing. Preemptive buck passing might best be described as excusing any possible future misbehavior as being in response to the actions, or even state, of others.

The example that stands out most in my mind at present is actually something that was recently taught at church during the youth open forum discussions on sexuality. It came to my attention that the girls were told that dressing provocatively could put undue temptation on the boys. On the surface, this seems like a reasonable thing to say, but upon closer examination, I must cry foul.

Why, you might ask, would I even consider speaking out against dressing modestly? After all, shouldn’t girls (and guys) dress modestly? In answer, let me start by saying that I do indeed believe that everyone should dress themselves in ways that do not intentionally emphasize sexuality. In fact, I would take that one step further and state that believers should err on the side of caution in this regard.

So, what then is my objection? My objection has to do with who is responsible for what. Each of us is responsible for what we ourselves yearn for and it is the yearning that is the problem. A fish that desires not the bait will not get caught. Admittedly I’m walking a fine line here, but it is an important line. Our weaknesses are our own and it is vitally important that we realize that, otherwise, we fall into the trap of victimizing others and then attempting to blame them for our actions.

For instance, I have heard Muslims defend the wearing of a full burqa based on the logic that a woman that flaunts her beauty is harming men by making them desire her. Poppycock! Sexual desire on the part of men will not evaporate simply based upon the clothing choices of women. The desire will be there regardless. It is what a man does with that desire that matters. Men can not blame women for male sex drive. Instead, it is the responsibility of the man to exercise self control.

Another instance of this sort of buck passing has recently been in the news. Many of you are no doubt familiar with the ongoing investigation of the gang rape of an eleven year old girl perpetrated by over 20 adult and older teen males in Cleveland Texas. As horrific as such a crime is, I am even more appalled at the attempt by many members of the community to justify the actions of these rapists by blaming the eleven year old girl! Really? Really??? Are there actually people in this world so totally clueless as to attempt to BLAME AN ELEVEN YEAR OLD GIRL for being RAPED!?! I have no words to express the degree of astonishment evoked in me by the sheer stupidity of such a belief. Let’s make one thing crystal clear. There is absolutely no circumstance under which engaging in sex with an eleven year old girl by any adult male can be considered justified. PERIOD. No eleven year old girl has the capacity to fully understand the repercussions of engaging in sex. Even if she stripped naked and begged for sex, it would still be the responsibility of the man to not only refuse, but to speak to her parents immediately to ensure that she gets help. The key words here are “responsibility of the man”.

But, you may wonder, what do these examples have to do with Christian girls dressing modestly to avoid causing their Christian brothers to stumble. Simple. Both boys and girls should dress modestly, not because you might tempt, but because you recognize the real problem with dressing immodestly: idolatry. What??? Idolatry? Before you wonder what I’m smoking, allow me to explain my meaning. Idolatry is the act of worshiping anything other than God. An idol can be money, power, things, status, or beauty/sex. When we dress or act immodestly, we are advertising to the world that we desperately desire to be desired, to be worshiped. It’s an attempt to achieve significance by the adoration and worship (and lust) of our fellow creatures. In other words, we seek to be the idol worshiped by others.

Consequently, there are few surer signs of a lack of relationship with the Creator than immodest, provocative dress, since a true, deep, satisfying relationship with the Eternal provides all the significance a person could ever need. Therefore, a person walking with Christ feels no need to be worshiped by others nor are they tempted to worship others. This same logic applies to sexual promiscuity. The root cause of promiscuity is also about idolatry, so by entering into a worshipful relationship with the Lord, we achieve true significance which reduces our perceived need to be worshiped.

That is why Spirit filled believers can live in a world filled with provocatively dressed, promiscuous people without stumbling, or at least without blaming others when they do. Our Lord calls us into a loving relationship that transforms us. He changes the essence of our values because He becomes the only thing of real value, and when your heart is set fully on Him, the temptations of this world grow dim by comparison. And that is why our motives need to be about being responsible for what is in our own hearts. After all, I can only be responsible for me.

© Copyright 2011 by Joel R. Hall – All rights reserved


About Joel Hall

Onward through the fog!
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One Response to Whatever Happened to Personal Responsibility

  1. Allie says:

    Thanks for this message, Mr. Hall! It really cleared things up and brought light to some things I hadn’t really thought about before. Thanks again for introducing me to your blog!
    ~Allie 🙂

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