In church this morning, my pastor referenced a book titled Whatever became of sin? by Sean Fagan. That title really caught my attention. Coming hot off my Morality Problem post, with all that research still buzzing through my head, I was a tad caught off guard. I wanted to say, “But Pastor Jerry, our culture is so sinful!”. But then I listened to what he was truly saying.
He was saying that sin is more prevalent than ever, but it’s no longer called “sin”. It’s reasoned away and labeled as something less negative. Lying is evident on every stage and level, but hardly ever publicly punished. Sexual immorality is now acceptable promiscuity (i.e. see modern music). Lust is now Fifty Shades of Grey. Adultery (i.e. cheating) is seen in popular movies, heard in popular songs, but not socially condemned. Abortion, though never outright labeled as a sin, goes directly against God’s teachings, but many Christians continue to condone this practice. And, because I am a Christian and believe the Bible is God’s living breathing Word, I believe homosexuality is a sin. And, in modern culture, it is accepted and boldly broadcast.
What happened to sin? Modern culture’s desire not to offend anyone, or make anyone feel bad for their actions, that’s what.
Sin was big enough to turn the young world on it’s head, but today, we insist on minimizing it into a label for actions. But the thing is, when we minimize sin, we minimize God and the incredible power of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
And the sad thing is, people today seem so focused on themselves and other people. This even includes Christians. They want to seem like “good” people, and “good” Christians. They want to fight for equality, justice, tolerance, love, and a whole host of other (wonderful) things. But being a Christian isn’t about the world, or the world’s problems. Yes, as Christians, we are called to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). We are supposed to love our earthly brothers and sisters as our own flesh. But in terms of the Great Commandments, this is only second. The greatest and most important commandment of all is Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:29-31). Being a Christian is about God. Plain and simple. It’s about loving Him, praising Him, adoring Him, and desiring to please Him. And the biggest thing that separates us from God is …. wait for it …. sin.
How can we form a relationship with God, if we can’t acknowledge our sins, if we don’t know what they are? As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m struggling to come up with examples of sins that non-Christians would understand, besides the obvious “Don’t kill”, Don’t steal”, etc. Why is this? Is it because sin truly isn’t talked about? And if that’s the case, why doesn’t that shake us to our God-loving souls?
What happened to sin? What happened to our world that sin became explainable? What happened to us that we let sin get this way?
Sin, as ironic as it is, is so crucial to our relationship with God. It is because of sin that we need God’s overwhelming grace. And it’s because of sin that Jesus died for us. Without sin, suddenly, Jesus’ sacrifice becomes nothing. And as I’m typing that out, I suddenly feel like crying, because His sacrifice is everything.
In order for us know God and love Him, we need to admit we have sinned and “fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As Christians, we need to admit we have sinned. But that is so hard, and all but impossible, when sin is apart of mainstream culture.
And because we are called to “be fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-20), and bring our friends here on earth to God, we need to be able to point out sins. We need to be able to tell someone (gently, of course) that what they’ve done is wrong. It’s like guiding a child’s behavior; you have to point out their bad behavior so they can learn and grow. If we reason away every type of behavior and not tell anyone that they’ve done anything wrong, how does anyone learn and grow? And if we don’t equip anyone with the abilities to recognize that behavior in the future, what stops them from repeating it again?
The thing is, there is no salvation if there is no condemnation. There is no good without bad. There is no redemptive grace without sin. So what happened to sin?
Churches, why don’t you talk about sin anymore? Yes, I know it’s talk about it in Sunday School classes and you mention it in the services and sermons. But can everyone that attends your church provide an explanation/example of sin? Christians, why don’t we acknowledge sin anymore? Why are we so quick to thank God and to praise Him, but less quick to admit our sins? And Christians, why are we so hesitant to stand up against sins in our world? Or rather, why are we so quick to explain it away?
And sometimes, Christians, standing against sin means standing against other people and telling them they are wrong. Sometimes, fighting against sin means, maybe, being seen as intolerant or unfair or unloving. But that’s when we have to weigh what is more important to us. Because we can’t be Christians without sin, and we can’t fight for Christ if we aren’t willing to stand against sin. Because Christianity isn’t “love-centered”, “people-centered”, or “world-centered”; Christianity is “God-centered”.
The existence of sin is a daily reminder of how much we need God. We are a fallen people, fallen from the blameless, Garden of Eden existence, and fallen into a world of actions and desires that upset God. It all makes full circle here, because being a Christian is about desiring to please God, and sin displeases God, so we should desire not to sin, right? Obviously, yes. But what is sin? How does it apply to culture and society? And now we’re back to the beginning with asking what happened to sin.
I have several friends who are atheist/agnostic. How am I to invite them to church and explain what sin is, if it’s become a part of modern culture, and modern Christian culture just brushes over it like it’s no big deal?
I think it’s time that Christians stop being afraid of coming across as “unfeeling”, “xenophobic”, “intolerant”, “unjust”, “hateful”, etc. I think it’s time to start talking about sin again. I don’t want to whittle my God down anymore. He is so incredibly big, and I think it’s time we re-acknowledge that sin is too.
What happened to sin? I don’t know, but I’m ready to see the conversation change.
Ciao for now,
(P.S. For one of my classes this semester, I am required to conduct a research experiment/study. My study is focused on the relationship between politics and religion. I think it would be really cool to have you guys be a part of my research (but please do not feel obligated!). If you are interested, the only stipulation is that you be an American citizen (sorry, but my topic is relevant to Americans). So, if this is something you are interested in, you can find the survey here: Politics and Religion. Thanks!! )