Friday, February 4, 2011

Guilt: The Human Dilemma

The 83rd Annual Academy awards are fast approaching. One of the most anticipated and meaningful Academy Awards is “Best Picture.” “Inception,” a Sci-Fi thriller, packed with mystery and action, and that has captured viewer’s fascination, is among leading candidates to win the Best Picture award that will be announced on February 27th from Hollywood. Underneath the surface of the thought provoking plot and awing special effects is the major theme of guilt, the emotional thread of the movie. This theme is felt throughout the movie, but is possibly most clearly seen in the final dialogue between Cobb and his wife

Mal: Mal: Then what if you're wrong? What if I'm what's real? You keep telling yourself what you know, but what do you believe? What do you feel?

Dom Cobb: Guilt. I feel guilt Mal. No matter what I do, matter how hopeless I am, no matter how confused, that guilt is always there reminding of the truth.

Cobb explains to Mal that the truth that his guilt constantly and agonizingly points him to is his well intentioned deception that led to her death. Guilt haunts him in reality and follows him into every level of dream world. No matter what he does or where he goes, he cannot rid himself of it. There is no escape. Cobb, however, believes that if he could only get back to his children through his efforts he would be redeemed.

In his book How to Help People Change, Jay Adams addresses Cobb’s problem,“all sorts of people carry loads of guilt around because modern constructs of human problems do not allow for the concept of sin and thus do not allow for forgiveness.” Adams believes that the cruelest thing a counselor can do is to transfer a guilty person to a state of nonforgivness by eliminating the biblical constructs of lawbreaking and sin. The counselee, must reach the conclusion that he or she has sinned so that the counselor can point to forgiveness in Christ through His substitionary, penal, and sacrificial death on the cross. Adams believes that the kindest act a counselor can do is to call sin “sin.” He states, “There is forgiveness for sin, not for “neurosis” or an “emotional problem!”

Guilt is not just a major theme of Inception. It is a major theme of the human experience. Christian Counselors shall not gloss over sin, guilt’s root, if they are to help their clients. If they do not deal with sin when present they might be able to help their client’s immediate situation, but in doing so they will bury a client’s guilt in socially acceptable functioning and ultimately keep them from the forgiveness Jesus went to the cross to purchase. Proverbs 28:13 exclaims, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will receive mercy.” People cannot escape their guilt by hiding in dreams or works. They can only attempt to bury them there. The only escape for guilt is Jesus.


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  2. Guilt is a problem alot of us must deal with. It is true that God wants to take that guilt from us and to place it on the Cross. I thank that Jesus is the only way to take away guilt, but I do think that there are other ways to lessen the effects of that guilt, otherwise there would be no purpose or hope in anyother counseling except for Christian Counseling. I do believe that you are correct in saying that Jesus Christ is the only way to deal completely with guilt and I do like this post.

  3. I agree that Guilt is something that can keep us all in bondage. I have had to work through guilt myself, but what I find interesting is how differently my counselor's approach was to sin compared to Jay Adams. I had a hard time reading some of Jay Adams approaches to counseling and change as I felt he came across as to harsh. Now before anyone judges me :) i too believe it is important to work through our sins and ultimately ask God to forgive us and for us to forgive those who have sinned against us. But, what I want to say is, I would love to be a fly on the wall and hear how Jay Adams actually counsels a client. I wonder if Jay Adams does have a balance in how he counsels, using love, truth, Grace, and time? Or is his approach focused on making sure his client recognizes sin first? Either way I think it is important to allow God's truth to convict us of our sins and recognized when others have committed sins against us. I believe working through forgiveness is the process of health, healing, and wholeness in Christ.


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