What is sin? Kierkegaard initially says that it’s defying the will of God, but then goes further and terrifies you by saying that it’s not just things you commit, but a state. So, sin is essentially a state of despair. So, before salvation everything you do is sin, because you’re living in a sinful state. And after, you’re justified by faith in Christ.
Jude and Samantha have decided to live separately. She loves him and says she’ll support him financially, until he can get back on his feet. Jude’s grown cold. Nothing affects him anymore. He’s dead and spiritless. He hardly showers, doesn’t shave and just exists. He thinks he’ll never be forgiven though some hope resides deep within him. A hope that resurfaces for a minute before he’s back to being cold again. He doesn’t yell or abuse Samantha anymore. He’s given up on pretty much everything and if not for that hope that shows itself now and then, he’s just a walking corpse.
In his anger, Jude wrote blasphemous things against God, embraced Nihilism and even proclaimed that God is dead. He’s now on medication for Bipolar Disorder and loathes everything he does. But this loathing isn’t an active loathing, but a passive one. It’s a mute, whispered, submissive loathing. He’s done with active loathing and I guess that’s because somewhere deep inside he still has a conscience. And maybe this moral compass is the hope within him that appears before vanishing.
Man isn’t free. Crime and Punishment is the best novel that explains this concept in tremendous detail. You’re not free to do whatever you want to, which is why a drug addict goes back to his needle, the alcoholic to his drink, the sex addict to his women, the tortured artist to his art, and Raskolnikov to his sordid streets with his head bowed down. It’s guilt. Heavy, intense guilt that torments, plagues and crushes and man in his desperate need to be free from it goes back to an ephemeral cure that’s only destroying him. He cannot find God and so, he seeks substitutes, until they destroy him completely. And Jude’s like every other guilt-ridden man. He hates writing, but writes because it’s his fix. He hates alcohol but drinks because it’s his fix. He knows drug-addiction is affecting him physically, making his hands tremble and giving him blurred vision, but he needs his fix.
So where does Jude stand before God? The truth is that he doesn’t know. He believes there’s still hope but he’s hopeless to do anything at this point and so he waits. God is often silent making man wonder if he exists at all, but those are the times that he’s working the most to restore an individual to him through some mysterious way. This much Jude believes, and I guess that’s all he can do at this point.
Jude has decided to not talk about God anymore. He’ll just keep quiet and try getting his life together. Reconciliation with Samantha is impossible, but reconciliation with Christ is possible. There are times when he doubts this and plunges into extreme despair, but he gets through each day by just existing, by just breathing.
And what about Samantha? Well, all of us serve God’s purpose, and I’d like to believe that God has a beautiful plan for her life because he knows how much she loved Jude. Sure, she’s corrupt, just like everyone else, but somewhere God who led her this far, will not forsake her. And that belief, whether it’s faith or not, keeps her going.
Maybe this story will end with Jude dying this way, or maybe he’ll be restored. He’s deep in sin and loves it, but also fears God. He’s a paradox of a man and perhaps he’ll stay this way. And then there’s mental illness. The Church is often quick to dismiss it. They say, ‘It’s a battle in the mind, or it’s something you conquer through faith,’ but they forget that we live in a fallen world. This world is already a post-apocalyptic one that is only getting worse. And in a world of disease, death and corruption, mental illness exists. So, perhaps like Jude’s loving mother always told him, ‘God understands.’
P.S. I originally planned to write more, but I’ve decided that this is a fitting conclusion to this series. Thank you for reading.
(Inspired by The Sickness unto Death by Søren Aabye Kierkegaard and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky)
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)