7.20.2015

Saints and Sinners


First, Atticus Finch.  Now, Bill Cosby.  One is white and the other black, one a celebrated fictional character and the other a feted living legend.  Many are reeling over these two long-sainted heroes exposed as abhorrently flawed.  The shock and dissonance is worse than over, say, Steve Jobs or Bill Clinton, both of whom are brilliant and both of whom possessed undesirable traits.  It is because Finch and Cosby represented something and then ended up being the opposite all along.  We are appalled by both the bad behavior and the hypocrisy.

We desperately want to be able to characterize people as either saints or sinners.  We have a hard time holding together two thoughts about someone: that we admire them and we are disgusted by them.  And then we are torn because we don't know what our final assessment is on the person.  Do the good deeds outweigh the bad?  Do the bad deeds nullify the good?  

The Christian worldview tells us we are both saints and sinners.  We are both admirable and reprehensible.  Our relationship with God secures our sainthood, to His credit.  And it extinguishes our sinfulness, also to His credit.  This is of great comfort as we find discomfort about how to reconcile great good and great bad within the same person, whether a literary figure, a celebrity, or ourselves.
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