THE POSITIVE SIDE OF GUILT
BY DR. RICHARD D. DOBBINS
People who lack a conscience do not want to deal with their problems. They project their problems on their family, their friends or other parts of the social system. Often they end up becoming the responsibility of people like longtime law enforcement officer Ron Replogle. A dedicated Christian, Ron has worked at many levels of law enforcement over the years. Much of his career has been as a state patrolman.
The Importance of Family
Ron finds his Christian family vital to helping him deal with the stress and tragedies law enforcement brings his way. “I was involved in a homicide investigation, where an 18-month-old child, a 5-month-old child and their mother were all murdered in one night,” Ron explained. “I had the unpleasant task of having to attend the autopsies of those three people–and we did them all in one evening. When I came home I was wiped out. My wife was still up and she was reading the Bible so we sat down and prayed,” he added. “That’s the only way I can handle those situations.” And before he could go to sleep that night Ron had to slip into his children’s bedroom and touch them–just to be sure they were all right.
Ron believes that families play a key role in the whole issue of law enforcement and respect for the law. “I was in a meeting going through ethics training recently,” he said. “One of the gentlemen made the comment that he didn’t understand why ethics should be such a big deal today. He said his daddy taught him ethics when he was 6 years old. My parents also taught me the difference between right and wrong.
“But with today’s breakdown in the family and so many kids being raised in divorced families, children are not getting those things taught to them by their fathers and mothers–they’re really left to raise themselves.”
It is crucial for fathers to bring their families up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Fathers must teach their children the difference between right and wrong–and enforce that teaching so that it becomes part of the child’s life.
The Importance of Good Authority Figures
Ron Replog1e is convinced that the loss of family life and the respect for right and wrong that should be taught in families has deprived much of society of a conscience. “I think that is the problem in our society today, that we’ve lost that in our families.”
Scripture tells us that we are to learn important ethical truths in our homes. The rulebook for life is the Bible, and at its core are the Ten Commandments. With God missing from our homes and left out of our public schools, we should not be puzzled about the moral crisis overwhelming our society today.
Notice, there is a progression in the Commandments: The first four deal with our relationship to God; then we switch to family values in the home; and then to our dealings with our neighbors. The child who has a mother or father to teach him or her just those ten rules for living has a jump start on life.
The Ten Commandments
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven images.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Thou shalt remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
5. Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
10. Thou shalt not covet.
DEVELOPING A HEALTHY CONSCIENCE
Despite all the hard cases he has dealt with, Ron Replogle still believes that deep down everybody understands and feels some sense of guilt for the wrong things they do. “I was a polygraph examiner for almost 3 years,” he said, “and I think that there’s always that sense of knowing the difference between right and wrong.”
God has a moral law built into the human mind and body. Even those who have seared their consciences are still enough afraid of being caught that this mind/body reaction is reflected on a polygraph test.
Even though the person may have no fear of lying, the polygraph machine can pick up the fear the person has of being caught. What this says about us is that God has designed humans so that while the mind or spit* can lie, the brain and body are always going to be truthful–trying to override the conscience will produce other detectable physical reactions.
Good people can get themselves in positions where they do very bad things. Helping these people acknowledge what they did, even though it may mean a prison term for them, is important. Even when a Christian person violates his or her conscience, they need the relief of telling somebody. The Scripture says, “Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
Admission of a crime and getting help for the guilty is vital, Ron Replogle said. “I think that anybody that commits a crime needs, number one, to confess,” he said. “Not because they need to be put in jail or whatever, but for their spirit’s and conscience’s sake and for the sake of their relationship with God.”
He said he has dealt with Christians who have committed crimes, and “find great relief when they finally make that admission of guilt. So there’s a wide variety of people out there, but God can help anybody. And I’ve had the opportunity to pray with some of these people after they’ve confessed. And those are the times when I really feel good about the job I do.”
Friend, we need to be more aware of our mental process. Remember, the ideas, urges, and fantasies we experience in making decisions or solving problems are more than just impulses or habits. Just as God attempts to influence our decisions, the devil also tries every way he can to impose himself on our mental activity and thought processes. That is what spiritual warfare is all about.
This is why we need Jesus within us. He will help us become aware of the spiritual origin of our urges, fantasies and ideas. He will help us deny expression of those stimulated in us by Satan and express those He stimulates in us. This is how Christ provides us with wisdom in the decision making and problem solving tasks of life.
Fathers, Authority Figures And Conscience
The majority of criminals Ron Replogle has dealt with are men who grew up without a father. “The lack of a father figure in these people’s lives is a major part of their problems,” he said. “They had no example of how they should act, how they should be. I think a lot of the problems we have today stem from not having enough examples of Christian fathers in our homes.”
Every child has a need for two parents who love each other, love God and love him. Growing up without a father means the child is missing a role model. Both boys and girls need a father figure so that boys can learn to be men and girls can learn to relate properly to males and to know what to look for in a husband. When dad is not in the home everyone suffers!
The father also is a moral authority figure in the home. Children get their early ideas about God from him. After all, they become acquainted with their father on earth long before they know their Heavenly Father. Since the father is the first authority figure in a person’s life, the father-child relationship sets the attitude a child will take toward authority figures in society. That is why Scripture says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
To admonish someone as the Scripture says is to challenge them to be their best. A father should set the limits that determine right from wrong for the child–encourage the child and challenge him to be the best he can be. Dad and Mom, become your child’s “cheerleader” in life!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY GUIDELINES FOR GOOD LIVING, A PUBLICATION OF THE MEDIA MINISTRIES OF THE ASSEMBLIES OF GOD, VOL IV, NO. 41. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.