Why do people turn bad?

I could start a whole blog about things my children say . . .

Jacob last night asked, “Why do people turn bad?”

I didn’t have anything profound to reply but was gratified he asked it. Yet the condition of our world that leads Jacob to ask the question is depressing. Are people born good or bad? And if good, what makes our hearts and actions go sour? An age-old question that I don’t want to answer for certain either way [check out Augustine v. Pelagius or Calvin v. Armenius]. What I want to reflect on this morning is the innocence of a pure heart that wonders, “Why do people not want to be good?”

Jacob went on to answer his own question, talking about how people start out with small lies, then begin to steal, then do worse things.

That’s right, and I didn’t feel the need to theologize any further with him. The best thing I could say to him is, “Son, that’s a good question, and I’m glad you’re asking.” I didn’t have to tell him again in that moment that we want to be good people, that we don’t want to be bad guys. I can tell that’s his heart’s desire.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

6 comments on “Why do people turn bad?

  1. I think this is a great example of what we want for our kids. This past weekend at Zoe my husband attended a class that discussed teaching with questions rather than “pat answers”. He tried it out with some of our kids on Sunday and it transformed our discussion. Suddenly they were forced to think through things rather just be told the right answer. They really seemed to get the point of the topic. Our kids get tired of the “pat answers” and want to dig deeper and I think it is awesome that you allow Jacob to think rather than just tell him the “right” answer. As a therapist I can’t tell yo.u how many kids would rather their parents discuss hard topics rather than give them the standard lines we’ve taught.

    I found your blog through a link…but remember meeting you at ZOE a few years ago when Jeff had us turn and give names of people we wanted to pray for. I also grew up in Muskogee, OK and am very familiar with the Tulsa area so when you mention that it reminds me of home.


  2. People sin because they miss the target… hamartia! I’m learning some stuff in Greek. I thought that was really interesting. That the actual meaning of sin was “Missing the Target” the Target of Christ.


  3. Good post. I told my kids that all sins begin in selfishness. We spent a lot of the next few months bringing up examples of that in life, commercials, newspapers, etc. I think I learned as much as they did.


  4. Greg, I really do believe that all want to be ‘good’ and want to be loved by our Creator. I think it _is_ about selfishness as Patrick said, but there are other motives that are whispered to us by the father of lies. I just fail to ignore those whispers over and over. Fortunately, my Father keeps on loving me over and over.


  5. Turning bad is human nature and something that ordinarily happens. Change is linked to the environment where people do a lot of adjustments. Perhaps the glaring fact that people do turn bad has made ac lot think. No matter what, goodness is inherent to all.


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