Several years ago, Oprah Winfrey aired a show featuring the former New Jersey Governor, James E. McGreevey, whose life and political career were drastically altered by the revelation of his long kept secret as a homosexual. Predictably, Oprah applauded McGreevey’s commitment to himself and for following "his own heart," the very thing she encouraged her audience to do.
Apparently, Oprah hangs her moral hat on the assumed goodness of the human heart, and with that being said, there's one nagging question that bothers me. If the heart of man is basically good then why in heavens name do we devise and implement so many organizations and safeguards to make sure things work fairly in our world? We have the EEOC, the ACLU, the ACLJ, the NAACP, and many more federal, state, and private organizations that serve as human rights watchdogs. And let’s not forget the fact that we are a contract driven nation, and while contracts serve many purposes, more often than not they actually protect all parties involved from wrong-doing, fraud, dishonesty, and unfair advantage.
So, if the human heart is basically good, why such caution?
The answer, of course, is that it isn't basically good. In fact, it is sinful, and while one of the most denied of biblical truths, it remains the easiest of all such truths to verify. Even the professing atheist and renowned physicist Stephen Hawking refers to this inherent human malady. “The trouble is,” he writes, “our aggressive instincts seem to be encoded in our DNA…unless we can use our intelligence to control our aggression, there is not much chance for the human race” (Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, p.137). While not actually defining the problem as “sin,” he does concede an inherent and universal problem.
If the heart of man is basically sinful, then those who think they can trust it are prime candidates for a life of confusion and self-deceit – just like Oprah, James E. McGreevey, and so many others we know all too well today. Hence, the relevance of Jeremiah's words, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?” (17:9) Consequently, the more adamantly one denies the basic sinfulness of the human heart, the deeper the deception.
Let's face it. Without the Word of God (Scripture) and the Salvation found in Christ alone, the very realities so oft denied today, we are self-deceived, lost, and hopeless sheep.