As a little girl, I was a clever and quick; not being taught much, I was a self learner and made selective study of my environment. I thus had made careful characterization of my father. I was ten years old when he returned to our home after his incarceration. I knew he was a pedophile, I also knew that I was his next target. I had to study him, his ways, and work hard to keep from being raped. He was not rehabilitated, he was just more careful, more cunning, and more calculated. It was constant game of sexual cat and mouse, and I was the mouse. I left home at fifteen due to the increasing intensity of his sexual advances.
By design and by development I am a self-correcting and empathic soul. As a survivor of childhood sexual, physical, emotional abuse and neglect, I had to be hyper vigilant and self-correcting in order to survive. Even the kindest of parental discipline was abuse, while the slightest childhood offence could warrant a correction that could lead to unconsciousness – I just never knew. I have a deep capacity for empathy and had to separate the person from the perversion from a very young age; in order to remain remotely sane. How does a child makes sense that the same hand that keeps you, crushes you? I could then, and can now, always see the person as such; and their perversion as such; two separate things.
Sadly paternity and predation have always been uneasy bedfellows for me.
I also assumed with the astounding nativity of an inexperienced child, that most of the universe had the same Pollyanna personhood that I had. I wrongly hypothesized that unless it was otherwise obvious – EVERYONE was hyper vigilant, helpful and self-correcting.
Additionally, I made the popular assumption that when I came seeking the Saviour, the environment would be safe. I did not see any of the obvious identifiers or red flags that I had understood as predation in the pious. It appears however, that the wicked are particularly prevalent in communities of faith. History is littered with clerical misconduct, elite crime and corruption.
People in ages past and ages to come will be hunted and preyed upon by what saint and sinner alike would easily agree are “wicked men.” “The existence of evil in its most painful form”, says theologian George Adam Smith, “is the successful and complacent sinner, the oppressor of good men.” Mr. Smith takes as his text Psalm 36:1-4. Let us suspend theological argument for a moment, for the wicked prey not only upon the pious, but the vulnerable.
It was Tolkien who truthfully said that “Nothing was evil in the beginning…” What then is the meandering and mysterious growth of the character of a wicked man? This sober topic will rightly cause you to shudder as any careful look will result in full-fledged horror. I submit this small study with the full realization that but by grace go we all.
With Psalm 36:1-4 we see the progression of sin. Let us look first anatomically at verse 1:
The oracle is a secret whisper, an instrument of revelation right into the heart of the wicked man. Here also the word transgression literally means ‘breach of trust’. Likewise the word wicked refers to a criminal, an offender, one guilty of a crime. I would submit to you that a wicked man may violate many of the laws of God but may never breach the laws of man. Finally, the psalmist states that the offender has no terror or righteous fear of God to temper his temptation. This is an explanation of how far the offender has already slid, that the God he professes, he no longer fears – His God is impotent to him in the face of his lust.
George Adam Smith surmises, “Temptation in all its mystery, and with no religious awe to meet it – such is the beginning of sin.” It seems then that the mysterious development of the character of the wicked man has begun long before the whisper of sin. The oracle has found in the wicked mans heart fertile soil, the genesis of which appears to be a lack of fear of someone greater, of Holy discipline, of being held accountable to someone more powerful than he.
How then, did the wicked man lower his estimation of his God?
By increasing his estimation of himself.
Let us then take one more solemn step. The Psalmist goers on to say,
The wicked man smoothly assigns an opinion of himself and his outward appearance, that allows him to believe the lie that his crime will not be found out and thus hated. Temptation, says George Adam Smith, when yielded to, is succeeded by self-delusion. In his compelling sermon on the Deceitfulness of Sin, W. Craig D.D pens the following:
“The wicked man has a fond imagination of his own innocence, even in the course of an irregular and sinful life. He artfully persuades himself that there cannot be such malignity or guilt in what he does as that it should expose him to the displeasure of his Maker, or draw after it any great or lasting punishment: he presumes, therefore, God will overlook the irregularities and errors of his life, or find out some merciful expedient whereby he may escape with safety and success.”
At this juncture, I will take my leave, for at this present time and for a time to come I will need beauty as the antidote to the horror I rightly feel. I must pause, think calmly, processes slowly, drink in beauty and return refreshed.
Peace or peas, whatever you can manage,
Smith, George Adam. Four Psalms XXIII. XXXVI. LII. CXXI.: Interpreted for Practical Use. Scriptura Press. New York City, NY. 1942