Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Real Me

I continue to make my way through One Nation Under Therapy when I'm not doing required reading. I'm currently in a chapter titled "From Sin to Syndrome" which deals with the various ways in which violent and immoral behavior is either medicalized or explained in terms of some psychological deficit. The authors quote Anthony Daniels, a British psychiatrist who works with prison inmates:

That criminals often shift the locus of responsibility for their acts elsewhere is illustrated by some of the expressions they use most frequently in their consultations with me. Describing, for example, their habitual loss of temper, which leads them to assault whomever displeases them sufficiently, they
say, "My head goes," or "My head just went."
Sommers and Satel go on to say that Daniels has observed that many of the convicts he works with share a distinct theory of the self that he calls the doctrine of the "Real Me":
The Real Me has little or nothing to do with the self who breaks into houses, uses drugs and alcohol, and beats his wife and children. "No, the 'Real Me' is an immaculate conception, untouched by human conduct: it is the unassailable core of virtue that enables me to retain my self-respect whatever I do."
This morning at World Net Daily, I read an article about Mary Carey, a porn star (whose real name is Mary Ellen Cook). You may recall that she was among a host of unlikely candidates in the running to become California's next governor following the recall of Gray Davis. Now she's in the news because she is scheduled to attend next week's President's Dinner and Salute to Freedom, a $2,500 per plate event sponsored by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Carey says that it would be an honor to meet President Bush with whom she'd like to talk about freedom of speech and the crackdown on the adult film industry. She'd also like to get some pointers from the Commander in Chief as to how she might advance her political career.

Carey claims to be a Christian whose daily routine consists of Bible reading and prayer. She dismisses the thought that her lifestyle is at odds with her profession, saying:
"I probably have less sex with those guys than any college girl [typically has]. It doesn't make me less moral," she said. "I'm sure a lot of Christians have had sex before marriage. God reads my heart. I'm a good person. ... I think I have more morals than the politicians in office. I don't rob, steal, hurt, or lie - a lot of politicians do that."

That Carey adheres to the doctrine of the "Real Me" is evident in her reaction to a question about how her pornographic occupation is consistent with the biblical prohibition of adultery: "Bill Clinton committed adultery. [Doing] adult movies is acting, portraying a role. It's not Mary Ellen Cook, the real me."

Interesting that Ms. Carey uses everyone but God as her moral point of reference - promiscuous college coeds, politicians, and, last but not least, former President Bill Clinton. She has established a self-righteous system that allows her to soothe her conscience by telling herself she's not as bad as those "truly evil people."

Of course, we don't have to go to prison inmates and porn stars to find instances of this kind of self-justifying activity. Proverbs tells us that it's universal: "Every man's way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts" (21:2). Each of us is prone to self-deceptive pride that entices us to preserve the illusion of a pristine "Real Me" while attributing our wicked actions to factors outside our selves.

I hope Mary Carey does read the Bible every day. Likewise, I hope she'll soon read and consider Jesus' teaching in Mark 7:21-23: "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."

Carey's right. God does read our hearts - but he doesn't compare them to the texts of other lives. He judges them by the standard of his own moral purity. This is why we need the Savior.


Milton Stanley said...

Out-standing post! I plan to link to it on my blog tomorrow. Peace.

KP said...

Thanks, Milton.

Bill Wallo said...

Nice post. I read an article about Mary Carey today and had similar impressions of her perceptions of faith as being disconnected from behavior. Thanks.