Why Do People Make Bad

Choices?

Why, for example, do people drink to excess? There is a range of reasons including: They are genetically predisposed to it They enjoy the sensations They are trying to escape other painful aspects of their lives They were introduced to the lifestyle by someone else and have been trapped They are trying to impress They like the image of being free and rebellious They enjoy the camaraderie of the drinking crowd and find acceptance there Peer pressure And yet drinking to excess is hugely damaging to their health, their families, their careers and so on. Those who do get drunk may, or may not, be aware of all of the facts regarding the negative outcomes but there is enough public education to at least alert them, and to prompt them to do more research. Why do people continue to make unhealthy choices knowing them to be unhealthy? Admittedly, some might have persuaded themselves that their drinking is not causing any issues but that is largely delusional. All of the facts would say otherwise. Change the example and we will find that we all do some things we know to be unwise and that will have consequences. Why? Clearly, whatever the original reason, drinking to excess can become an addiction. People may have contributed to their own demise but they still need help. Compassionate people will recognise their need and look past their folly. Undoubtedly, people will find many reasons to say that alcoholism is not a suitable analogy. I am not saying that the issues are analogous. I use the example simply to question why people do what they know to be unwise. Why do people indulge in homosexual acts? Again, many may have persuaded themselves that there is no harm and society is strongly reinforcing that view. On the other hand, there is wide recognition that Christians believe it to be wrong and that it has disastrous eternal consequences as well as frequent negative consequences in this life. Anyone willing to look at the issue will be aware that there are strong warnings against getting involved. So, we are still left with the question of why. There are many reasons and maybe they do parallel the ones given above. Some do have a genetic predisposition. Some would not have been homosexual had they not been introduced to it by others. Some may have experienced painful relationships (or lack of relationship) in the past and have found some solace in homosexual relationships. We know that those who have been sexually abused as children are more likely to engage in homosexual acts. Some may just like being rebellious or simply enjoy sexual promiscuity. Given the range of reasons, should Christians view active homosexuals with sympathy or loathing? Are they innocent people who have been sinned against, and are victims, worthy of our deep compassion? Or are they sinners who are defying God? Clearly it depends on the individual situation. Some will truly be victims who have been trapped in a lifestyle they would not otherwise have chosen and that, possibly, they hate. Some, quite clearly are simply gratifying their sinful nature. In individual situations it is therefore important that Christians consider why this person is in this position. If the person is a victim of circumstances or of others’ influence, that does not justify their actions. The biblical teaching remains the same. The biblical judgement on homosexuality doesn’t change. It does however, help us to understand and to respond with genuine love and compassion. Victims need help and support. People need to be loved and included. For some, the core reason may be past rejection. Further rejection is not going to help. In fact, we need to “come in the opposite spirit”. Past rejection may be overcome only by genuine acceptance. People who have been manipulated by others need people whom they discover they can trust. Christians do need to consider what has led this person to make these decisions. On the other hand, I used the word “loathing” above. Is that ever justified? Should anyone ever be treated that way? Politically correct Christianity says “no” but what does the Bible say? The word “abomination” indicates God’s repugnance. God hates sin. The Bible contains many instances of strong language being used against those who sin defiantly and especially against those who lead others into sin. On the other hand, it would seem that God always longs for the redemption of even the most rebellious sinner. He goes looking for the lost sheep. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. When God judges, it is to try to get the individual, or nation, or whatever, to recognise the consequences of their choices and to turn around. It was the famine that caused the prodigal son to think of home. Perhaps the key is to determine whether or not people are open to the possibility of turning around. To try to persuade those who are intent on pleasing themselves may be a case of casting pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). When Jesus sent the disciples out in mission, He instructed them to discern people’s openness and, on that basis, to either stay or move on (Matthew 10:5-12). Investing where there is openness increases the probability of a dividend. That is much less likely where there is strong resistance. There is little point investing time where God is not at work or where He is not welcome. Maybe at another time, that person’s attitude will be different. In the meantime, work where you see that God is already at work.

Related pages

· · · · · · · ·
© 2017 Peter Cheyne
A Christian’s Guide To Homosexuality
Truth In Love
Main sections Main sections

Why Do People Make

Bad Choices?

Why, for example, do people drink to excess? There is a range of reasons including: They are genetically predisposed to it They enjoy the sensations They are trying to escape other painful aspects of their lives They were introduced to the lifestyle by someone else and have been trapped They are trying to impress They like the image of being free and rebellious They enjoy the camaraderie of the drinking crowd and find acceptance there Peer pressure And yet drinking to excess is hugely damaging to their health, their families, their careers and so on. Those who do get drunk may, or may not, be aware of all of the facts regarding the negative outcomes but there is enough public education to at least alert them, and to prompt them to do more research. Why do people continue to make unhealthy choices knowing them to be unhealthy? Admittedly, some might have persuaded themselves that their drinking is not causing any issues but that is largely delusional. All of the facts would say otherwise. Change the example and we will find that we all do some things we know to be unwise and that will have consequences. Why? Clearly, whatever the original reason, drinking to excess can become an addiction. People may have contributed to their own demise but they still need help. Compassionate people will recognise their need and look past their folly. Undoubtedly, people will find many reasons to say that alcoholism is not a suitable analogy. I am not saying that the issues are analogous. I use the example simply to question why people do what they know to be unwise. Why do people indulge in homosexual acts? Again, many may have persuaded themselves that there is no harm and society is strongly reinforcing that view. On the other hand, there is wide recognition that Christians believe it to be wrong and that it has disastrous eternal consequences as well as frequent negative consequences in this life. Anyone willing to look at the issue will be aware that there are strong warnings against getting involved. So, we are still left with the question of why. There are many reasons and maybe they do parallel the ones given above. Some do have a genetic predisposition. Some would not have been homosexual had they not been introduced to it by others. Some may have experienced painful relationships (or lack of relationship) in the past and have found some solace in homosexual relationships. We know that those who have been sexually abused as children are more likely to engage in homosexual acts. Some may just like being rebellious or simply enjoy sexual promiscuity. Given the range of reasons, should Christians view active homosexuals with sympathy or loathing? Are they innocent people who have been sinned against, and are victims, worthy of our deep compassion? Or are they sinners who are defying God? Clearly it depends on the individual situation. Some will truly be victims who have been trapped in a lifestyle they would not otherwise have chosen and that, possibly, they hate. Some, quite clearly are simply gratifying their sinful nature. In individual situations it is therefore important that Christians consider why this person is in this position. If the person is a victim of circumstances or of others’ influence, that does not justify their actions. The biblical teaching remains the same. The biblical judgement on homosexuality doesn’t change. It does however, help us to understand and to respond with genuine love and compassion. Victims need help and support. People need to be loved and included. For some, the core reason may be past rejection. Further rejection is not going to help. In fact, we need to “come in the opposite spirit”. Past rejection may be overcome only by genuine acceptance. People who have been manipulated by others need people whom they discover they can trust. Christians do need to consider what has led this person to make these decisions. On the other hand, I used the word “loathing” above. Is that ever justified? Should anyone ever be treated that way? Politically correct Christianity says “no” but what does the Bible say? The word “abomination” indicates God’s repugnance. God hates sin. The Bible contains many instances of strong language being used against those who sin defiantly and especially against those who lead others into sin. On the other hand, it would seem that God always longs for the redemption of even the most rebellious sinner. He goes looking for the lost sheep. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. When God judges, it is to try to get the individual, or nation, or whatever, to recognise the consequences of their choices and to turn around. It was the famine that caused the prodigal son to think of home. Perhaps the key is to determine whether or not people are open to the possibility of turning around. To try to persuade those who are intent on pleasing themselves may be a case of casting pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). When Jesus sent the disciples out in mission, He instructed them to discern people’s openness and, on that basis, to either stay or move on (Matthew 10:5-12). Investing where there is openness increases the probability of a dividend. That is much less likely where there is strong resistance. There is little point investing time where God is not at work or where He is not welcome. Maybe at another time, that person’s attitude will be different. In the meantime, work where you see that God is already at work.

Related pages

· · · · · · · ·
© Peter Cheyne 2017.
A Christian’s Guide To Homosexuality
Truth In Love
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