THE WORST DISEASE: A “REPROBABLE MIND”
Basic reading: Romans 1 and 2
The capacity to “hold the truth in unrighteousness” is always accompanied by contempt for the conscience and for the intuition regarding what is genuinely divine. When a person adopts such an inner determination, he/she ends up developing “a reprobable mind”, according to Paul in Romans 1.
That means a perception that is essentially distorted in its evaluation of everything takes root in our beings.
Besides, the “reprobable mind” is also a direct result from a human being worshiping a human being, whether it’s self-worship (narcissism) or the worship to someone else (idolatry); whether through self-centeredness as the existential worship or the surrender to passions that make the soul ill.
When one is willing to trade truth for lie and the godly intuition for his/her own making of any type of “convenient God”, it appears right away. Then self-worship follows, entailing a mindset that avidly gives itself over to all kinds of passions that arise in the soul. In addition, the soul falls so ill that it also yields them as fantasy.
That happens because such conscience violations cause the being to desire to be-for-itself only, and above all. Then the soul itself ends up making its own gods—concrete or imaginary ones—, whose role is to reinforce the inner willingness to only act according to the existing sickly personal desires.
In this way, not only gods of wood, stone, plaster or gold are made, but also abstract gods, which may even be called “God” although they’re nothing but abstract constructions whose purpose is only to legitimate the ill soul’s passions.
In this case, the person’s “God” is just the size of the wicked passions he/she wants to express. It’s this way because the “reprobable mindset” needs “gods” to validate and reinforce them. That’s why the mind’s worst distortions are directly born of the sickly passions that placed themselves above everything else, leading the person (or the society, when it becomes a culture) to being given over to himself/herself as if it were a divine law.
We all have the work of the law written in our hearts. So, in order to avoid that inborn “work”, we devise gods that are “friendly” regarding our own desires and passions or gods that “demand”, as sacrifices, our greatest desires and passions, including, in this case, all types of sadomasochism, especially those of a subtle psychological nature.
Anyway, the “reprobable mind” is always self-worship. It favors all sorts of passions that end up enslaving the person to his/her own mental processes that are all stirred by pulsions/passions that spring up from inside and become “masters of the destiny” of the men and the women who give themselves up to them.
When such a state sets in, the sense of reality is gone, because those who surrender to such powers lose the ability to see reality as wholly as possible. Then they dive into a world ruled by instincts and passions to the point of only being able to see themselves, blotting out their perception regarding any values that don’t serve their purposes of giving up to “doing the things not right”.
That’s why the outcome of this mindset is the degradation of the being, leading the individual into the way of inaffectivity and a restless search of gratifying his/her own desires, blinding him/her to the larger reality that includes all human beings.
In this way, someone who is possessed by a “reprobable mind” can no longer see anything beyond his/her own pulsion and passion, so he/she becomes the center of any world, and kicks out any other interests, whether human or divine.
The problem is that once this “frame of mind” sets in, it doesn’t vanish just because the person “converts” to the “God of Scripture”, since even in the “converts’ environment”, the “reprobable mind” finds a way.
It doesn’t make up objects of worship, but it worships desire and passion as existential gods. In this case, the desires and passions may even not be of a sexual or hedonic nature. They may simply appear as one’s pride of his/her own position as an object of “worship” for others in the pantheon of false importance.
That’s why it’s quite usual to see people “worshiping God” while carrying the “reprobable mind” disease within. This happens because they become like those who are “ever learning and never able to come to the full knowledge of the truth.”
Among the Christians, such a “frame of mind” is usually seen as an evil possibility for the pagan minds only. But here the Christians forget that the “reprobable mindset” isn’t necessarily shown by the objects it explicitly worships, but, above all, the existential fruits that are yielded in life.
According to Romans 1, the “reprobable mind” always gives rise to big human orgies. They may have a “Christian look” too, disguising themselves with the masks of moral and mercy—on the outside—, although they promote all kinds of deconstruction on the inside. I’m saying this because wherever an individual becomes his/her own absolute center, all kinds of evil results happen there, and they may also appear with the religious faces that surround us.
Yes, the “reprobable mind” leads the person to give himself over to his own passions, whatever they are, and they happen as the “absolutization” of the personal desires against each manifestation of the truth.
Such an obsession can lead the individual to the Roman-style orgy or any other kind of promiscuity of the soul, including the religious orgy. By “religious orgy” I mean the person’s obsessive wish to show before everybody even if this kills the very essence of the Gospel in his/her soul.
At this point it’s impossible not to remember that the prophets used to call the spiritual perversion “prostitution”. The spiritual prostitution is fruit of a “reprobable mind”, putting the worshiper in the place of the Creator—who is blessed forever. Amen.
The “reprobable mind” always makes up objects of worship, whether in the form of a pagan god or a Christian “god”. Among the Christians, such “gods” can be detected from the worship to personal piousness to the worship to the church, to the worship to moral, to the worship to power, to the worship to money and prosperity, to the worship to a person who takes God’s place in the others’ souls in some assembly of idolatrous Christians.
Such a mindset is a disease in itself, and has the power to blind the person to the reality according to love.
In addition, those who give themselves over to it lose the ability to love, only obeying the power of the pulsions they’ve chosen to rule over them.
However, I would say that such a mindset ends up becoming a culture. And when it becomes a culture, something dreadful happens, because it becomes a collective way of thinking that falsifies every possible reality.
A person who is guided by a “reprobable mind” becomes the center of any world, and can’t see beyond his own interests any longer. In this way, he/she becomes the “measure” for all things, which, as Jesus warned, should never happen.
The commandment not to judge—after all, the judgment measures turn again to the judger as judgment—is also a commandment that no one becomes the measure for all things, because he who judges takes on himself that kind of life regulation standard.
Being free from the “reprobable mind” is a challenge to every soul.
Without a liberation from it—in a daily exercise of checking between your conscience and the meaning of love—, nobody is able to love and give himself over in love. That’s why everyone who surrenders to it can’t see it anymore. So, unknowingly, the person starts calling lie truth, injustice right, and obsessively sickly passion irrepressible love.
No wonder that such a mindset does away with all the “natural affection”, as Paul says.
Every one of us should ask ourselves daily if our ideas and perceptions are healthy or if they came to be the fruit of a reprobable mindset.
That check on the mind needs to be carried out continuously, because the possibility of a mental distortion is real, although very subtle. Preserving the mind according to the Gospel is the only way to control possible outbreaks that favor such a mindset. In practice, it means to seek to do to others what we want them to do to us, especially when we manage to do the exercise of visualizing ourselves in great want, in need of all the help from our neighbor.
As for the rest, we are to keep our mind under the control of the law of love; otherwise, the selfishness lawmaking will end up bringing about a “reprobable mind”, which is the very corruption of one’s being. Besides, it’s the most serious disease of the mind, because it doesn’t necessarily drives you mad in a way that can be diagnosed, although it is, in itself, existential and sensorial madness.
Think about it!
From the original “A PIOR DOENÇA: UMA DISPOSIÇÃO MENTAL REPROVÁVEL”
Translated by F. R. Castelo Branco :: July 2007Scripture citations (whether or not in quotes) are taken from the MKJV