The Blame Game

Jun 10 2018

THE BLAME GAME

If we look at the story in Genesis that was read earlier, there is a pattern that we see over and over again, usually starting with children. It goes something like this. Something happens in the vicinity of the child. Let’s say a baseball goes through a window. Out comes Mom who says, “Didn’t I tell you not to play baseball around here because you might break the window? Who hit the ball?” George points the finger at John; John points the finger at Fred; and Fred points the finger at Junior who says, “They told me it would be all right to play here.” This is called the “blame game.”

In Genesis, God asks Adam, “How did you know you were naked? Did you eat of the fruit of the tree that I told you not to?” Adam says, “that woman you gave me – she gave me of the fruit and told me to eat.” The woman says, “The snake told me it would be OK to eat, and that you told me not to eat of the tree because you don’t want anyone to know as much as you do.” The man blames the woman; the woman blames the snake; and since time began we have played the “blame game.”

So the question for us this morning is, “Why do we play the blame game?” To answer that, let’s go back to the boys playing baseball. Were they doing something they shouldn’t be? Yes, because they had been told not to play baseball near that window because someone might hit a ball through the window and break it. So the first thing that happens is we do something we are not supposed to do, and we know as we are doing it that we are not supposed to do it.

Then, when the questioning starts, we deny we did it and point the finger at someone else – George points at John, John points at Fred, and Fred points at Junior. Why? Because Junior is the one who will probably suffer the least consequences for breaking the window. Now Junior could say, “I didn’t break it; Fred did.” But it’s three against one. Bad odds. But why deny it in the first place? Because we know we are wrong and don’t want to get punished; we know we did it, but are upset we got caught; or we are ashamed and don’t want someone to think less of us. Two of those statements are understandable and might even have some validity; one of those statements shows an absolute lack of remorse – sorry we got caught.

Now go back to the story of Adam and Eve. Both of them knew what God had told them about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But that snake was pretty tempting to Eve and Eve must have made a pretty convincing argument to Adam. But isn’t that the way it normally happens.

Think about the executives who embezzle from their employers. During the first time, they are probably a little nervous. They know they are stealing. But the more they do it, the more they rationalize and the easier it becomes until the point when they are finally caught and are sorry not that they took the money, but that they got caught.

Or what about the kids who pick out some other kid and beat that kid up? Most of the kids I saw who were involved in some type of assault and battery usually paraded out some excuse. Rarely did they say they were sorry, but they could certainly blame all sorts of other people or conditions that supposedly goad them into having to do something to protect their honor. The excuses went something like this: “She dissed me.” “He said something bad to me.” “She lied about me on Facebook.” And my favorite, “She looked at me funny.”

What do all of these people have in common? None of them want to take responsibility for their actions. It’s always someone else’s fault. It’s always a case of their being goaded or led into something, not because it’s wrong, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time, and their human brains rationalize why it is not their fault.

For some who continually blame others, it becomes a statement or act of entitlement. In their eyes, what they do is really not wrong. They are entitled for whatever reason they can conjure up to do whatever it is they do.

For some, their actions are a result of temptation. For them, it really is a case when we hear, “the devil made me do it.” Whether it’s in the garden with Eve, the boys who hit a ball through a window, the youth who persist in acts of violence, or the person who embezzles, someone else makes it easy for them, tempts them too much, or leads them astray through lies and deceit.

The bottom line is we teach our children responsibility. We were taught responsibility. When we grow up, we are expected to act responsibly in ways that will not hurt ourselves or others. Yet when we err, we try to sugarcoat it so it doesn’t seem as bad as it really is because deep down, we don’t want people to think badly of us – at least that’s partly the case if we have any kind of conscience at all.

The truth of all of this lies in the fact that we will make mistakes. Some will be worse than others. Most will not be illegal. But lying and blame do not lift the onus off of our shoulders. Lying and blame will ultimately make it worse in the long run.

For those of us who make honest mistakes, why is there a need to blame any person or condition? If we are human, we make mistakes. The people who love us, will still love us.

But if the issue is something illegal, the entitlement, the blame, and the cost to others will be immeasurable. That’s why there are whistleblower statutes.

There will always be people who will do bad things because it’s what they do. And the more they get away with it, the more they do it. But if we are committed to living lives as Christian people who seek to follow the example of Jesus, “The devil made me do it” doesn’t cut it. Blaming temptation by the devil for every little thing that we do wrong doesn’t cut it. And using the excuse that we were born being bad really doesn’t cut it.

 

When all is said and done, we are all responsible for our actions. And how we decide what to do depends on our moral framework. If we are Christians, then our moral framework should be based on what Jesus would do. Playing the blame game really helps no one in the long run – especially the one who plays it. Amen.