New sins

Vatican Updates Its Thou-Shalt-Not List:

In the Vatican’s latest update on how God’s law is being violated in today’s world, Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, was asked by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano what, in his opinion, are the “new sins.”

He cited “violations of the basic rights of human nature” through genetic manipulation, drugs that “weaken the mind and cloud intelligence,” and the imbalance between the rich and the poor.

“If yesterday sin had a rather individualistic dimension, today it has a weight, a resonance, that’s especially social, rather than individual,” said Girotti, whose office deals with matters of conscience and grants absolution.

Now, in fairness, these are not really “new sins,” as if the church can just declare new things bad that were not bad before. They are applications of the church’s natural law ethic. Still, the shift to more of an emphasis on social sins, as opposed to individual transgressions, does play into the liberal habit of projecting morality out to the fringes of responsibility, playing down individual behavior but emphasizing instead social attitudes as a measure of righteousness and self-righteousness. Hence, the importance of “political correctness” and leftwing posturing.

But it is true that our current technological and cultural context makes possible new ways of transgressing that were not available to sinners before. There is still the same old sexual sin, but now that we have online pornography we have even more ways of committing it.

We can play the same game as the Vatican. What are some “new sins,” in the sense that they are characteristic vices of our particular time that the sinners of the past didn’t have occasion to do?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Manxman

    When words are many, sin is not absent,
    but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)

    Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
    Do not be quick with your mouth,
    do not be hasty in your heart
    to utter anything before God.
    God is in heaven
    and you are on earth,
    so let your words be few.

    As a dream comes when there are many cares,
    so the speech of a fool when there are many words. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3)

    Modern technology (the Internet, cell phones, etc.) has certainly encouraged and empowered those who spread “the sacrifice of fools” in our culture and multiplied the sin that results from “bad” communication.

  • Manxman

    When words are many, sin is not absent,
    but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)

    Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
    Do not be quick with your mouth,
    do not be hasty in your heart
    to utter anything before God.
    God is in heaven
    and you are on earth,
    so let your words be few.

    As a dream comes when there are many cares,
    so the speech of a fool when there are many words. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3)

    Modern technology (the Internet, cell phones, etc.) has certainly encouraged and empowered those who spread “the sacrifice of fools” in our culture and multiplied the sin that results from “bad” communication.

  • Manxman

    Using new technologies to steal peoples’ identities or invade their privacy is a vice characteristic of our times.

  • Manxman

    Using new technologies to steal peoples’ identities or invade their privacy is a vice characteristic of our times.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    I’d second that. Gossip and secrecy are easier with e-mail and cell phones.

    I think that because we live in such an fearful age, in a paranoid way, we aren’t as generous as we could be. For example, I’d like to help some of the homeless men I see when I walk into town. But, I am often scared of them. What great harm could they do to me, a small-in-stature woman? Or, we hear stories of people being robbed from stopping to help a stranded car. So, we don’t stop. We don’t let homeless people sleep in our homes, again because we are afraid of being harmed by them.

    I’m just not sure that any of this is new.

    Gap between rich and poor? It was much greater throughout much of history. There were kings and peasants and not much inbetween.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    I’d second that. Gossip and secrecy are easier with e-mail and cell phones.

    I think that because we live in such an fearful age, in a paranoid way, we aren’t as generous as we could be. For example, I’d like to help some of the homeless men I see when I walk into town. But, I am often scared of them. What great harm could they do to me, a small-in-stature woman? Or, we hear stories of people being robbed from stopping to help a stranded car. So, we don’t stop. We don’t let homeless people sleep in our homes, again because we are afraid of being harmed by them.

    I’m just not sure that any of this is new.

    Gap between rich and poor? It was much greater throughout much of history. There were kings and peasants and not much inbetween.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I really do believe there is nothing new under the sun. The method of committing the sin may be new, but the sin is not. I don’t think there are new sins.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I really do believe there is nothing new under the sun. The method of committing the sin may be new, but the sin is not. I don’t think there are new sins.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Another thing I love about teaching kids (and adults) out of Luther’s Small Catechism. I don’t just teach my kids: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. It goes beyond that and asks, What does this mean? When you memorize “We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.”, that covers cyber gossiping, Facebook slander, etc.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Another thing I love about teaching kids (and adults) out of Luther’s Small Catechism. I don’t just teach my kids: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. It goes beyond that and asks, What does this mean? When you memorize “We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.”, that covers cyber gossiping, Facebook slander, etc.

  • Manxman

    Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

    Based on the scripture above, I think mockery of God has become an institutionalized sin in America as more and more of our laws & critical social structures actually defy God’s standards of right and wrong and our populace becomes more and more corrupt. The average American, including too many Christians, seems to believe that God CAN be mocked and that he & our nation are somehow going to escape the destruction that God has said will result from our disobedience to Him. Wrapped up in this sinful mindset is also the element of presumption on God’s mercy and a definite lack of fear of the Lord.

  • Manxman

    Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

    Based on the scripture above, I think mockery of God has become an institutionalized sin in America as more and more of our laws & critical social structures actually defy God’s standards of right and wrong and our populace becomes more and more corrupt. The average American, including too many Christians, seems to believe that God CAN be mocked and that he & our nation are somehow going to escape the destruction that God has said will result from our disobedience to Him. Wrapped up in this sinful mindset is also the element of presumption on God’s mercy and a definite lack of fear of the Lord.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Manxman wrote: “presumption of God’s mercy”and “too many Christians, seem to believe that God CAN be mocked and that… our nation …somehow going to escape the destruction that God has said will result from our disobedience to Him.”

    When you have a chance, I’d like for you to elaborate with specifics and corresponding scripture, if you are able to (if you are busy with other things, it’s OK).

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Manxman wrote: “presumption of God’s mercy”and “too many Christians, seem to believe that God CAN be mocked and that… our nation …somehow going to escape the destruction that God has said will result from our disobedience to Him.”

    When you have a chance, I’d like for you to elaborate with specifics and corresponding scripture, if you are able to (if you are busy with other things, it’s OK).

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I found something interesting today, speaking of mockery of God. Scottius Maximus (confessional Lutheran blogger extraordinaire) has posted on the very recent Dilbert cartoons which, in my opinion, feature: outright (and outrageous) mockery of God, direct slams on various Christian groups (prosperity gospel, people who worship Mary and see her in objects), and I think I sense a knock at Obama, too. The timing of this (Lenten Season) is equally outrageous. Good thing Christians don’t call for the death of anyone who mocks God, cuz this guy really crossed the line. Has anyone seen these cartoons? There is a link to them at his blog. Stop by and leave a comment.

    Blog: http://www.scottiusmaximus.blogspot.com/

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I found something interesting today, speaking of mockery of God. Scottius Maximus (confessional Lutheran blogger extraordinaire) has posted on the very recent Dilbert cartoons which, in my opinion, feature: outright (and outrageous) mockery of God, direct slams on various Christian groups (prosperity gospel, people who worship Mary and see her in objects), and I think I sense a knock at Obama, too. The timing of this (Lenten Season) is equally outrageous. Good thing Christians don’t call for the death of anyone who mocks God, cuz this guy really crossed the line. Has anyone seen these cartoons? There is a link to them at his blog. Stop by and leave a comment.

    Blog: http://www.scottiusmaximus.blogspot.com/

  • Bror Erickson

    Theresa k,
    i’d be careful to make a distinction between mocking God, and mocking misconceptions about God.
    For instance one of my favorite movies is “The Life of Brian.” My Sister thought it was blasphemous, and Monty Python very well might have meant it to be so I don’t know. But when I watch it it has the effect of making fun of everything that is wrong with liberal theology. I can’t take offence to it. It’s too silly.

  • Bror Erickson

    Theresa k,
    i’d be careful to make a distinction between mocking God, and mocking misconceptions about God.
    For instance one of my favorite movies is “The Life of Brian.” My Sister thought it was blasphemous, and Monty Python very well might have meant it to be so I don’t know. But when I watch it it has the effect of making fun of everything that is wrong with liberal theology. I can’t take offence to it. It’s too silly.

  • Carl Vehse

    The Dilbert cartoons for March 10-13 are the ones that definitely mock our Savior. Complaining to the local newspapers that carry the cartoon may (but probably won’t) have an effect.

    Imagine the jihadist fatwah on Scott Adam if the Dilbert cartoon had mocked Mohammad in a similar way.

  • Carl Vehse

    The Dilbert cartoons for March 10-13 are the ones that definitely mock our Savior. Complaining to the local newspapers that carry the cartoon may (but probably won’t) have an effect.

    Imagine the jihadist fatwah on Scott Adam if the Dilbert cartoon had mocked Mohammad in a similar way.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Bror, make sure you look at the cartoons from 3/10 to 3/13. I think it’s pretty clear cut mockery. For whatever reason, I also didn’t really think Life of Brian was purposefully blasphemous, but I watched it years ago.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Bror, make sure you look at the cartoons from 3/10 to 3/13. I think it’s pretty clear cut mockery. For whatever reason, I also didn’t really think Life of Brian was purposefully blasphemous, but I watched it years ago.

  • Paul

    Not ‘new’ sins, but applications of the sin of pride which is a First Commandment sin:

    1) The false belief that we control the destiny of our planet; i.e., whether it continues to function correctly or falls into disrepair and decline by human decision to act or not to act in its best interest. I don’t believe that this application would ever have been contemplated except by out-right sorcerers, but today it’s considered a foundation of Christian doctrine that the long-term welfare of the entire planet is in our hands.

    {On the other hand, would we not indeed be decrying the arrogance of those who believed that they could do whatever they pleased with God’s creation without fear of natural consequence if it were not the cause of the far left? Hmmmm. I wonder…}

    2) The idea that science can (eventually) explain everything to the human mind. While not particularly a new sin, it seems that every previous generation allowed for something which was unknowable to man. Today, science postulates what existed prior to the creation of our universe (cosmos = all things). Is this not another ‘chasing after the wind’?

  • Paul

    Not ‘new’ sins, but applications of the sin of pride which is a First Commandment sin:

    1) The false belief that we control the destiny of our planet; i.e., whether it continues to function correctly or falls into disrepair and decline by human decision to act or not to act in its best interest. I don’t believe that this application would ever have been contemplated except by out-right sorcerers, but today it’s considered a foundation of Christian doctrine that the long-term welfare of the entire planet is in our hands.

    {On the other hand, would we not indeed be decrying the arrogance of those who believed that they could do whatever they pleased with God’s creation without fear of natural consequence if it were not the cause of the far left? Hmmmm. I wonder…}

    2) The idea that science can (eventually) explain everything to the human mind. While not particularly a new sin, it seems that every previous generation allowed for something which was unknowable to man. Today, science postulates what existed prior to the creation of our universe (cosmos = all things). Is this not another ‘chasing after the wind’?

  • Manxman

    Theresa K.

    Some examples -

    Scripture makes it clear that shedding innocent blood is detestable to God – yet abortion on demand is a woman’s Constitutional “right”

    The First Amendment to the Constitution is used to flood our culture with all kinds of filth and obscenity in the name of freedom of speech.

    No fault divorce laws mock God’s hatred for divorce.

  • Manxman

    Theresa K.

    Some examples –

    Scripture makes it clear that shedding innocent blood is detestable to God – yet abortion on demand is a woman’s Constitutional “right”

    The First Amendment to the Constitution is used to flood our culture with all kinds of filth and obscenity in the name of freedom of speech.

    No fault divorce laws mock God’s hatred for divorce.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Thanks, Manxman. Your comments yesterday really got me thinking:

    “presumption of God’s mercy”and “too many Christians, seem to believe that God CAN be mocked and that… our nation …somehow going to escape the destruction that God has said will result from our disobedience to Him.”

    The only destruction I know of coming to us is hell if we are not covered by God’s grace in Jesus Christ. No doubt that this country, and all the earth, is in blatant sinful defiance of God’s laws. From a practical point (practical = trying to preach the good news to others), I think that Christians and churches need to focus on bringing the good news to as many as possible. We should also be good citizens and work for laws that protect life, dignity, home, etc. I think that the two shouldn’t be mixed by a church.

    The U.S. is not a Christian nation nor do I ever think it was. OT laws and prophecies don’t apply to the U.S. since Jesus fulfilled the law (“It is finished”). God doesn’t have any special destruction planned for America because of our sinfulness. How much worse can things be on earth than they already are: a world steeped in sin, with disease, anger and tragedy around every corner. What worse destruction could there be than the loss of a soul to hell? This land and country are beautiful and I love it, but it can’t be my home. It won’t ever be some kind of Christian paradise nor the place where we spend eternity with Christ.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Thanks, Manxman. Your comments yesterday really got me thinking:

    “presumption of God’s mercy”and “too many Christians, seem to believe that God CAN be mocked and that… our nation …somehow going to escape the destruction that God has said will result from our disobedience to Him.”

    The only destruction I know of coming to us is hell if we are not covered by God’s grace in Jesus Christ. No doubt that this country, and all the earth, is in blatant sinful defiance of God’s laws. From a practical point (practical = trying to preach the good news to others), I think that Christians and churches need to focus on bringing the good news to as many as possible. We should also be good citizens and work for laws that protect life, dignity, home, etc. I think that the two shouldn’t be mixed by a church.

    The U.S. is not a Christian nation nor do I ever think it was. OT laws and prophecies don’t apply to the U.S. since Jesus fulfilled the law (“It is finished”). God doesn’t have any special destruction planned for America because of our sinfulness. How much worse can things be on earth than they already are: a world steeped in sin, with disease, anger and tragedy around every corner. What worse destruction could there be than the loss of a soul to hell? This land and country are beautiful and I love it, but it can’t be my home. It won’t ever be some kind of Christian paradise nor the place where we spend eternity with Christ.

  • Manxman

    Theresa K.

    I think you’re spiritualizing things too much when you dismiss the suffering that results from sin in this world and say the only destruction you know of is Hell. There are some hellish places right here on earth, some of them right here in America.

    The good news of the gospel is for this world, too. It has power and benefit for our lives RIGHT NOW. It is our Biblical Christianity that has helped make life in America different from life in other cultures in other countries. If Christians (and even non-believers) obey God’s laws in this world, we leaven the world around us. We do not have to live in a pigsty. But, if any people, no matter who they are, thumb their nose at God’s laws, they can make life in this world more hellish than it has to be. Don’t sell the power of God’s truth short.

  • Manxman

    Theresa K.

    I think you’re spiritualizing things too much when you dismiss the suffering that results from sin in this world and say the only destruction you know of is Hell. There are some hellish places right here on earth, some of them right here in America.

    The good news of the gospel is for this world, too. It has power and benefit for our lives RIGHT NOW. It is our Biblical Christianity that has helped make life in America different from life in other cultures in other countries. If Christians (and even non-believers) obey God’s laws in this world, we leaven the world around us. We do not have to live in a pigsty. But, if any people, no matter who they are, thumb their nose at God’s laws, they can make life in this world more hellish than it has to be. Don’t sell the power of God’s truth short.

  • TK

    I don’t think you and I are too far apart on the power of God’s Word being proclaimed nor on the ability of God to transform lives here on earth, Manxman.

  • TK

    I don’t think you and I are too far apart on the power of God’s Word being proclaimed nor on the ability of God to transform lives here on earth, Manxman.


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