Saturday, October 23, 2010

Original Sin and the Death Instinct

Original Sin and the Death Instinct
Fr. Dale Matson
Psychologists have long attempted to understand human behavior in general and self-destructive behavior in particular. It is ironic to me that Sigmund Freud would study and generalize human models based on the broken lives of patients in his clinical practice. Is this a fair sampling of humans or a stratified sample that is skewed? It is not the model that Abraham Maslow later developed based on self-actualized individuals. I suppose it depends on whether one thinks that humans are essentially healthy and good or born broken and sinful.
12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men,…”—(Romans 5:12, NIV) As Matthew Henry (“Commentary on the Whole Bible”) succinctly puts it, “Adam communicated sin and death to all his posterity.” God told Adam not to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam already knew what was good and in disobedience chose evil. Adam, with his disobedience, estranged himself from God. There is no life apart from God. Deuteronomy 30: 20 states in part, “For the LORD is your life…” I believe Adam’s sin of disobedience led to a state of estrangement from God that was passed on to his progeny. In creation, God declared that things would reproduce in kind. We were thus destined, once Adam sinned, to be estranged from God, to be sinners and to die. All of creation was corrupted by Adam’s sin." In “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”, Freud attempted to explain the death drive that ran counter to and overcame the pleasure principle. He saw it as, “…an urge in organic life to restore an earlier state of things - the inorganic state from which life originally emerged.” How does that compare to the following? God cursed Adam, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19). The death drive then manifested itself in the individual creature as a force “whose function is to assure that the organism shall follow its own path to death”. Freud later theorized in “Civilization and its Discontents” that the death drive can also be externalized as aggression.
Later, Karl Menninger in his book “Man Against Himself” Discussed the self-destructive life of individuals who are simply killing themselves on the installment plan using drugs, enveloped in neurosis, inflicting injury on themselves and others.
There is only one solution to the original curse and estrangement of humankind from God and a self-defeating and self-destructive life. It is to seek life once again in God through Jesus Christ. We must turn from this life of death and ask Christ to make us a new creation in Him. “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) Amen

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