Vol.V No.VII Pg.5
September 1968

The Sin-Sick Soul

Robert F. Turner

I had occasion recently to visit a modern State prison, and had an interesting visit with the Chief Warden. Unlike the old time jailer, this man was a doctor of psychology, with graduate work and much experience in penology. He studied the behavior patterns of criminals and miscreants; analyzing,. differentiating, seeking for causes and cures.

One of his statements struck me with great force. "We can deal with the psychotic with drugs-- put the mind in a state of neutrality — analyze — block out undesirable traumas; but with the sociopathic we can only apply a comb nation of matters (religion, a job — to give self- respect, and the like) and maybe we can move the patient in the right direction.

I'll try to translate this into Plain Talk — but make allowance for my non-professional, layman concepts. He was saying, we can work on the mind, like an IBM machine. Mechanically we block off a section, repair the "short" or remove cross-purpose elements; but the moral character — shall I say, the soul — is different. We can only set desirable goals before the soul — patient; seek to motivate, move in the right direction.

The mind of man — sometimes closely associated with his "spirit" or the "inner man" (Rom. 7:18-f) -- though complicated and intricate — yet has certain measurable and predictable functions. A "sick" mind can, in many respects, be treated mechanically. We may discover a "traumatic" (wounding) experience in the patient's past, and lead the patient in a rational detour of this injury. Or by drugs, and some suggest by surgery, we may remove or seal off the scar. But there is more to the inner man than a "natural" IBM machine. What can be done for a man whose conscience is seared? Who has lost, or destroyed, his sense of moral right? An impenitent sinner??

The doctor calls this man "sociopathic" and defines this, "inferior for undetermined reasons." The doctor is a sociologist — and tends to think of the man only as he relates to mankind, or society. But I could not forget the man's relation to his Maker. I saw the patient as not only out of touch with his fellow man, but also (and more important) out of touch with God. And to me God is not a social development, but Eternal Deity — existing prior to man, creating man even as the potter works with clay. (Read carefully Rom. 1:18-32; 9:16-23)

When man fails to "glorify" God-mindful of His constant august presence; and is not "thankful''-- recognizing his dependence upon God; then he is cut free to drift upon purely human (social) standards. "God also gave them up to uncleanness... unto vile affections... over to a reprobate mind." (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28) (See Vol. 5, No. 4, p 5 Plain Talk)

I was happy to hear that the Warden recognized "religion" as a motivating force for good. But if this "religion" is nothing more than a facet of society it is doomed as a cure. The soul that is sick will respond to nothing short of the Great Physician. We must recognize SIN as SIN, and get forgiveness in Jesus Christ.