Dear Mr. Bauman,
Thank you for your piece on men ruling the world, and thank you most especially for your amazing courage in acknowledging the sexual abuse you’ve suffered, as well as for your willingness to demonstrate compassion to women.
I take issue only with your assessment that “the core of most men is good”. If you believe God’s Word, “No one is good except God alone” (Mk. 10:18). Even if we can make a biblical case for some individuals in the Bible being described in “good” ways because, for example, David was a man after God’s own heart, and Job was “blameless and upright”, we can hardly extrapolate from these and similar few examples that most men, or most women, are “good at their core”.
If readers are told they are “good in their core”, they won’t recognize their need for Christ, and they’ll be left to try to reform themselves in their own power and strength.
Thank you for listening, and again, thank you for shining a light on this issue and for being so incredibly transparent! May God bless and continue to heal you and may He use you to lead many to the foot of the Cross for new life!
Thank you for your kind words and thoughtful engagement on this topic.
Genesis 1:31 frames much of this conversation for me. The verse states, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Though we have been marred by sin, I believe we were first glorious before we were sinful. Therefore, I hold to the theological stance of “original glory” hand in hand with “original sin”. Our journey is to return to the way God intended, our original glory.
Another theological position that frames much of my work and theory is that of Imago Dei. We bear God’s image. God resides in us, because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and shedding of blood, God sees us as his children, good, clean, whole (Romans 3:22-26). I am reminded of German Catholic theologian Johannes Baptist Metz when he states,
“Understood correctly, our love for ourselves, our ‘yes’ to our self, may be regarded as the ‘categorical imperative’ of the Christian faith: You shall lovingly accept the humanity entrusted to you! You shall be obedient to your destiny! You shall not continually try to escape it! You shall be true to yourself! You shall embrace yourself! Our self-acceptance is the basis of the Christian creed. Assent to God starts in our sincere assent to ourselves, just as sinful flight from God starts in our flight from ourselves.”
Assent to ourselves is not some humanistic, narcissistic plea to make God in our own image; quite the contrary. This affirmation of the goodness of self simply takes seriously the fact that God has created us in his likeness. To live into who we are meant to be in God’s family, we must wholeheartedly embrace the radical truth that we are image bearers of the divine, beloved by the God who created us.
I believe the process of knowing our goodness is not void of equally understanding our sinfulness. I actually think naming our sin is the easy part. My clients can quickly and easily name how terrible they are, but have difficulty grasping that they can come home and enter into the loving accepting arms of God. (I also address this in great detail in my new book Stumbling Toward Wholeness; read Chapter 4, Wrestling with Goodness)
What about you? Can you look in the mirror and bless the beauty of what God created? Or are you more quick to name the imperfections that you see? I know for me, I so quickly criticize and demean myself (self-contempt) rather than name my beauty and goodness. (You can also read more about these concepts here.)
I hope that you find these thoughts helpful and encouraging. Thank you for following my work and reaching out.
Peace to you. –Andrew J. Bauman