My second pleasure read of the winter break was Alan Jacob’s Original Sin which chronicles the importance and near ubiquity of the doctrine of original sin. You remember original sin, right? That’s the belief that people are born into a state of separation from God, with a bent toward rebellion against Him, and His moral standards for us. Upon our initial entry into this world, we’re already broken.
I think the best evidence, apart from the Biblical witness to the doctrine, is day care. Yep, one child on his or her own is precious and sweet, but put a few of them in a room together and you’ve unleashed hell itself. The conflict comes when our little darlings want something that conflicts with the other little darlings in the room. And what conflict! Have you ever seen the rage on a child’s face when you tell them: ‘no, you cannot have it?’ I recall a story from when my own children were very young. We had placed one child in day care, even though a little younger than the rest of the children. We were shocked (mostly) when the teacher called and reported that our precious little munchkin had been, well, biting the other kids. When we asked who had been bitten, we were told that it would be easier to identify the children who had not been munched on by our little monster.
I’m sure we could identify all sorts of social maladies that we believe contribute to the lack of ethical commitment on the part of our children. The plain and simple truth is that no child is born sweet and innocent, but all are born sinful and in need of correction and discipline. It’s a hard truth, but true nonetheless. Jacob’s book is a worthwhile read: it isn’t preachy, nor is it theologically burdensome. If you’re looking for something to read on a cold day at home, send your kids to day care and dig in.