A Reflection on the Election
In the recent past there has been much concern about current events in the world. Actually more than I can ever remember being in the past. It is the presidential election that has drawn excessive interest and has disquieted many. For me, this past presidential election is reminiscent of the Supreme Court’s decision not long ago. I am speaking of course, of the ruling to legalize gay marriage. This along with other like things that have become acceptable and normal in our day were unthought-of while I was growing up as a youth. Why has this change come about? Is it progress for man or what is it? I will go on to make a response to these questions.
So, to continue, I will speak about psychology, however it is not modern psychology I will refer to, but the ancient psychology of the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church. In their struggle to fight against sin, not only to cease sinning in act but to be purified from the effect of sin upon our common human nature, they came to certain conclusions. These conclusion were not based on deductive reasoning, on the contrary, they were founded upon their observations of what they experienced within themselves. They did not make a voluntary decision to make a study of the soul, but through their struggle for purification they not only became proper human beings in the image of God, but, in addition, they acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit and so ascended into the likeness of God. They were able to look back and see clearly the process of regeneration they went through. And they were moved to write out of the illumination they received from the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Our Holy Fathers tell us that there are three powers or aspects of the soul. They are, the intellectual, the desiring, and the incensive aspects of the soul. The intellectual is meant to rule over the other two. This is the natural order as we were created, however, with the Fall of Adam and Eve, this has been turned upside down. This is the effect of their fall upon their human nature which we all inherit. They have personal responsibility for their sin but, I repeat, their sin had an effect on their human nature. Their fall caused them to have an inclination to sin. This means that the desiring and incensive powers of the soul now have the upper hand. The intellectual power which was meant to rule over the other two now easily becomes enslaved to them. This is what we have inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve.
Whereas, we are called to return to our natural, noble state where our intellect would rule over the lower aspects of the soul, we have fallen headlong into that inclination to sin. In our day we see a dynamic increase in evil, which, on the basis of the psychology of the Fathers, we could say comes from our own choice proceeding from a distorted mind. The powers of evil also have their part in this. Their warfare against us is increasing for, as St. Joseph the Hesychast has written: “The devil knows his time is short therefore he is angry and fighting harder”. And as the Romanian Hieromonk Raphael Noika has observed: “The sin of Adam is becoming full”. This is where the race of man finds itself. Sin is multiplied to great extents and it is indulgence in sensual pleasures that is perhaps the most flagrant. Seeking pleasure through food, alcohol, drugs and lust—whether natural or unnatural—is promoted by our society and are the norm in the lives of many. What is the result? The reasoning of the mind is influenced; it is darkened and contrary to nature. The intellectual aspect of the soul is enslaved to the desiring. We are at the point of which the Scripture speaks, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20) And as the Psalmist says: “And man, being in honor did not understand; he is compared to mindless cattle and is become like unto them” (Psa. 48.12). [Psalm quotations are from The Psalter According to the Seventy, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston Massachusetts]
With pain of heart for the world I can conclude with one final remark which I believe the readers will understand:
“It is time for the Lord to act; for they have dispersed Thy law” (Psa.118:126).