Excuses for Sin
Realizing one's own culpability and asking for forgiveness is hard. So is extending forgiveness to others. Forgiveness, not excuses lies at the heart of the issue. One of the most obnoxious things I hear is that people must learn to "forgive themselves." First of all, rarely do people come down too hard on themselves. Most of the time people are experts at explaining away their behavior in terms of circumstances or necessity (hence there are very few people in prison who profess guilt even in the face of overwhelming evidence). Secondly, from a theological standpoint, what people need is not to forgive themselves but to be forgiven by God in Christ. But first, one must see their culpability, even if genetics, environment and social pressure were all shoving in that direction. Psychology explains behavior in terms of probabilities, how likely a person is to behave a certain way based on a number of variables. Even if we could predict with extremely high accuracy who would and who would not beat their spouse (for example) it would not remove the person's guilt for this behavior. The world doesn't get this. The world hears "sin" as something like "naughtiness" and as Christians we hear "sin" as much more like "humanness".