Abstract, spiritual truths have extremely practical, daily effects. For example, the arguably abstract concept that we are made in the image and likeness of God has the extremely tangible result of us applying the Spiritual to the world around us and going out stargazing.
I believe this same idea to be true of St. Paul’s warning to the Romans, that “the wages of sin is death.” Sweet, Paul! Very abstract, we can apply it to the supposed judgment of the afterlife; nothing more to see.
But hold up (wait a minute, put a little love in it). St. Paul was referring to something we can see and touch in this modern age. What are our big sins? Let’s list ’em out, shall we?
Abortion. Now this might seem unbearably obvious – of course the wage of that sin is death; the death of a child! But the death of the unborn child is the intention of an abortion; it is the crime itself. What, then, is the wage of that crime? It’s not merely some vague idea of sorrow or guilt. It is death in the form of breast cancer. Abortion increases a woman’s risk for the most deadly type of breast cancer around.
Now to be absolutely clear, I’m not saying that breast cancer is some sort divine punishment for the sin of abortion. Rather, I aim to show that the moral law – that stodgy, embarrassing set of dogmas branded on every human heart – is there for a reason. It is there to protect us. When we ignore the moral law, we get hurt. The wages of sin is death, in the same way the wages of ignoring the commands of traffic lights is death.
We see a similar thing happening with Contraception. In an unforgivably unfashionable move, The Church upheld the moral law with Humanae Vitae and forbid the use of artificial contraception. “Aw, c’mon!” said the world. “It’s not gonna hurt anyone!”
“It will,” sayeth Lady Kirk, “It will hurt the human family. It will hurt you in ways we don’t know yet, for the wages of sin is death, remember?” And truly, the church couldn’t say much more than that, for the world had not experienced the effects of putting 80% of our women on birth control pills.
Well, know we now. Once again, risk for deadliest form of breast cancer is increased by our moral apathy. And isn’t this the saddest part of it all, that men seeking sex without consequences are the ones walking away unscathed, while women pay? The wages of sin is death.
Now there are hundreds of other sins I could mention. Drug abuse leads to death. Excessive anger and violence leads to death. Pornography leads to the death of marriages, the death of sexuality, and the death of excitement. This is all readily available to the eyes of believers and unbelievers alike. But what can we learn from this seemingly apparent truth of St. Paul?
It actually gives us a rather unique weapon. It gives the Christian the prophetic ability to ignore the cries of “it won’t hurt anyone!” that come with each new evil. With the knowledge the wages of sin is death, the Christian can instead affirm, “Yes, it will hurt some one. You just don’t know who yet.” Take for instance, the fact we have been injecting children with vaccinations made from the cells of aborted fetuses for quite some time now. Why not? says the world. The Christian, not knowing a single thing about the issue, can feel free to oppose on the basis that it will hurt someone; that it will lead to some sort of death, based on the obvious fact that the action is sinful, and on that universal truth that “the wages of sin is death.” And he’d be mocked, and then vindicated later on. For now there is evidence that these vaccinations are directly correlated to increases in instances of autism.
The Point: Following the moral law is not mere conformity to abstract commands that will attain you Heaven. Following the moral law is the surest way of living fully alive, here and now, on this earth, avoiding death and attaining life.