Thursday, July 31, 2014


C.S. Lewis claimed that our morality not only allows us to tell right from wrong, it also tells us something about the nature of the universe as a whole.  But maybe all our morality really does is prompt us to label things as “right” and “wrong;” and maybe all it tells us about the universe is that we cannot help but judge everything in it as either one or the other.

Maybe the “original sin” in the Garden of Eden was not disobedience, in other words, but the act of passing moral judgment itself. In this sense, God forbid the eating of the apple from the tree of Knowledge, not because it would empower humanity with the ability to discern good from evil, but because it would lead humanity to divide everything into categorical boxes of right and wrong. And from that first moral judgment, only an endless sea of judgments would follow.

Adam and Eve were ashamed after they ate the apple, which caused them to run away from each other and hide. They did this because the apple led them to believe they possessed a divine knowledge of right and wrong - but they didn’t. They were ashamed, not because they had learned that they were naked, but because they had both learned to judge themselves, and each other, as being somehow "wrong" for being naked.  In contrast, Adam named the animals but he did not judge them, which is why he never considered it “wrong” for them to remain naked.

The devil's trick, then, was to tell people that the sensation they developed to make moral judgments about everything, a sensation that came only after eating the apple, was what it felt like to be God. And we have been judging each other,  as if we were God, ever since.  In fact, today, we judge everything - from people, to actions, to even our ideas - as being either right or wrong.  But it is the act of making moral judgments that is the real poison.The serpent had not succeeded in forcing God to judge his children, in other words, because the love of a parent precludes such judgments, but to trick children into forever judging them self as being forever unworthy of such love.

Evil, in this sense, is simply the act of passing moral judgment on others, and hell is what it feels like to be judged, and both flow from an apple filled with fear.  One of the worst fears we face as human beings, in fact, one which we have all faced at one time or another, is the fear of being judged.  And perhaps the worst judge of all is ourselves.  Insecurity, depression, and even drug addiction, are all the result of a relentless act of self-judgment that repeatedly pierces our sense of self worth like a crown of thorns. To escape such judgments, which are often conveyed with all the forgiveness of a nail, some will even choose to end their own life.

When Jesus said we must become like children, he meant we must acquire a state of mind that is engendered by innocence.  New born infants have no fear, and therefore pass no judgments.   We, on the other hand, started passing moral judgments about each other only after Adam and Eve ate that fateful apple, and we stopped seeing each other as one and the same, and began to see ourselves as separated, different, and dangerous.

Christ did not say “judge not lest ye be judged” because God would judge those who judged others, but because he knew that the judgments of one person was the result of fear, which could spread across a population like a virus, ricocheting off of everyone in its path.  Ironically, perhaps nothing demonstrates better just how connected we are to each other than the spread of such a virus. Freedom comes first and only, therefore, from learning not to judge ourselves, either by comparing ourselves to others or to the impossible standards of an omnipotent deity.  Only by so doing can we learn to love ourselves unconditionally, and by extension, all others.

The problem we face today is that we are continually taught to judge right from wrong, and thus we judge ourselves and everyone else, in accord with a system of “beliefs” we were taught to defend. Christ, who came to free humanity from this very prison, has been used only to strengthen it instead. And by fixing our eyes on a degree of perfection that can never be obtained, we see only imperfection in our self and in everyone around us.  The idea that God was “perfect” did not make us better, but worse, as we readily climbed over each other in the endless pursuit of a human ideal that we could never possibly achieve.

 Because Jesus was without sin, when he said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” he was obviously referring to himself; yet he did not cast a stone. Instead, he made it clear that no one would continue to judge the woman, and neither would he. Perhaps this is because he realized that the only sin we are all guilty of, and indeed perhaps the only evil that exists in the world, comes from the hand of the stone-caster.

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