From the Babylon Bee: HEAVEN—“Sources from within the kingdom of heaven confirmed Wednesday that God has instructed His team of angelic lawyers to begin combing through the covenant made with Noah that He would never again destroy the earth with a great flood, to see whether there is any fine print or vague language that might get Him off the hook. ‘A promise is a promise, I know—but I’ve really had that Genesis 6:6 feeling lately. You know the one, where you just start regretting having created mankind at all?’ He was reported to have told the archangel Michael.
“‘Is there anything in there about wiping everyone out with an ice age? I mean the text implies liquid water, right? Let’s get some more people from legal to weigh in here,’ Michael said as he scoured the text, looking for any kind of loophole that would render the unconditional covenant null and void. One savvy lawyer suggested that while the text did specify that God couldn’t once again wipe out everyone with a great flood, the language didn’t contain any specific ban on killing humans with large boulders or tree trunks the water would happen to be carrying as it rushed across the face of the earth. At publishing time, God had decided to slowly start phasing out rainbows as a precautionary measure, in hopes that the move would trigger some kind of statute of limitations to kick in.”
Ha ha, it’s funny, right? Today, I’m tired of being a Superego blogger, I am having an Id kind of morning. I am not talking about my big ego, nor did I forget the apostrophe between the I and d. Sigmund Freud postulated that we humans are variously motivated by a system of three checks and balances—executive, legislative and judicial. Just kidding. Freud’s big three, or “fundamental structures of the mind,” were the Id, Ego and Superego. When I mention Freud, don’t immediately assume “oh, he’s discredited, all that sexual stuff and that Oedipal complex.” The following are things I believe Freud mostly nailed, though his hostility to God undermined his ability to understand the root of temptations.
I like the explanation given by Lumen Learning from their course Psychodynamic Perspectives, on personality development: Conflicts among these three structures, and our efforts to find balance among what each of them “desires,” determines how we behave and approach the world. What balance we strike in any given situation determines how we will resolve the conflict between two overarching behavioral tendencies: our biological aggressive and pleasure-seeking drives vs. our socialized internal control over those drives. The id, the most primitive of the three structures, is concerned with instant gratification of basic physical needs and urges. It operates entirely unconsciously (outside of conscious thought). For example, if your id walked past a stranger eating ice cream, it would most likely take the ice cream for itself. It doesn’t know, or care, that it is rude to take something belonging to someone else; it would care only that you wanted the ice cream. The superego is concerned with social rules and morals—similar to what many people call their ” conscience ” or their “moral compass.” It develops as a child learns what their culture considers right and wrong. If your superego walked past the same stranger, it would not take their ice cream because it would know that that would be rude. However, if both your id and your superego were involved, and your id was strong enough to override your superego’s concern, you would still take the ice cream, but afterward you would most likely feel guilt and shame over your actions. In modern terms, Twitter and Instagram appeal to the id. Imprimis and National Review appeal to the Superego.
In contrast to the instinctual id and the moral superego, the ego is the rational, pragmatic part of our personality. It’s what Freud considered to be the “self,” and its job is to balance the demands of the id and superego in the practical context of reality. So, if you walked past the stranger with ice cream one more time, your ego would mediate the conflict between your id (“I want that ice cream right now”) and superego (“It’s wrong to take someone else’s ice cream”) and decide to go buy your own ice cream. While this may mean you have to wait 10 more minutes, which would frustrate your id, your ego decides to make that sacrifice as part of the compromise– satisfying your desire for ice cream while also avoiding an unpleasant social situation and potential feelings of shame. Freud believed that the id, ego, and superego are in constant conflict and that adult personality and behavior are rooted in the results of these internal struggles throughout childhood. I have studied psychology my entire life, but most people will be able to relate this example to their own lives and that of their children.
You are probably anxious for me to get back to what God finally decided about destroying humanity a second time, and how my being in an id kind of mood is related. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” Genesis 6:5-6. That’s analogous to man being ruled by the id. But note that He was talking about the heart—our thoughts and intentions. Yet the majority of Americans and “civilized” people have sublimated their id to their “ego” (in Freud’s sense). That’s what we call maturity. It’s a way God provides for civilization: Maturity is taught and caught by family and church (in the sense of religious accountability) governments. The hoped for outcome is self governance. Civil government i.e. what we think of erroneously as government, is instituted to protect the roles of family and church governments, to reward good and punish bad. When civil government oversteps and starts trying to replace rather than protect the more personal circles of government, maturity suffers, id flourishes. God isn’t fooled by appearances—the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” That’s the Genesis 6:6 mood.
The human heart or nature hasn’t changed. Hopefully, God’s lawyers will not find a loophole, and our future will be “the LORD said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease’.” Genesis 8:21-22. Better that than “the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”