Sin: Christianity’s Favorite Three-Letter Word

Sin: Christianity’s Favorite Three-Letter Word August 30, 2018
Courtesy of Pixabay

Christians love talking about sin. Sin this, sin that, sin here, sin there, sin just about everywhere. And while it is, in and of itself, not a bad thing to discuss this issue, our focus always seems to be, not about our own shit, but about the shit of others, the so-called sins of “all those worldly people.” It’s the homosexuals who are sinful. It’s the Muslims who are sinful. It’s the atheists who are sinful. It’s the potheads who are sinful. It’s the backsliders who’ve turned their back on “our” church that are sinful. Hell, it’s even our bratty little children that are sinful.

What we never want to talk about, however, are the sins of the “in crowd,” of our tribe, of our church, of ourselves. No! That would be too difficult. That would strip us of our ability to boast in our so-called piety, our so-called holiness, our so-called lives of purity.

Oh, how deceived we are!

But that’s just what we need to do—be introspective and take a hard look at our lives. Why? Because, while we’ve been busy pointing the accusatory finger at the world, we’ve forgotten to clean off our own porch, so to speak. And as such, we’ve rendered ourselves as nothing more than hypocritical, a brood of vipers zealously hellbent on spreading our blatant toxicity like a California wildfire. We’ve focused so much energy on things like homosexuality, sexual purity codes (mainly toward women), substances like alcohol and marijuana, etc., that we’ve completely forgotten about one crucial thing: the matter of our own hearts.

To that end, if we want to talk about sin so damn much, perhaps we should start with some of our personal favorites. Take, for instance, gossip. This is something I’ve witnessed so much in church that it baffles me how we don’t readily address it. Are we this blind? Or, are we just so enamored with it that we’ve become experts at explaining it away? Either way, it’s probably because we typically veil our gossip by calling it a “prayer request.”

How cute!

Or, how about the fact that within Christianity there are countless factions. Denominations, we call them. I’ve heard we have 20,000 of them, but I’ve also heard as many as 40,000. Regardless, we’ve got a lot. And all of them are wrong except for mine. Right? Right? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

How can this be? If we are supposed to be the so-called “body of Christ,” how can we function if we’ve walled off all those who approach things differently than us? How can the liver, for instance, do what the liver needs to do if it refuses to consider what the gallbladder and pancreas have to say? How can the heart work properly if it and the lungs are at odds? I think you get the picture. They can’t. We can’t.

Oh, and let’s not forget how good we are at quarreling with each other. Ever been in a board meeting that went awry? I haven’t, but I’ve heard some amazingly horrific stories—stories that make you wonder how “Christian” the folks (ahem, white men) really were.

Or—and I don’t mean to sound judgmental—what about good ole gluttony? I remember, some years back, having a conversation with a pastor who kept insisting that I was living in sin because, well, smoking pot was a sin. Always. Full stop. No consideration for those who use it medicinally, or use it responsibly . . . nothing. Just sin and nothing more. The shocking thing about this conversation is that this dude was at least 75 pounds overweight while his wife, perhaps 100. Which is fine. Whatever. What do I care? But do you see the hypocrisy? We weren’t about to talk about our bodies being temples with regards to a healthy body weight. We weren’t about to talk about gluttony. We weren’t about to talk about any of that stuff. No. Me using cannabis in order to manage my autoimmune disease was the issue. In spite of what Jesus said in Matthew 15:11—that “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles”—in spite of the fact that I typically eat clean, unprocessed foods and keep a healthy body weight by working out 7 days a week, and in spite of the fact that this pastor cared little for any of that, I was deemed the sinful one. Consider me flummoxed.

Now, I don’t mean for this to sound overly harsh. I’m just fed up with this monstrosity we call Christianity. We’ve become so religious, so full of law, that it’s as if Jesus never existed, as if he never came preaching the free forgiveness of sins. And it breaks my heart. So I’m pissed. And if it weren’t for Jesus, I’d walk away completely. But alas! Jesus did exist, and he did come preaching the free forgiveness of sins—even the Christian sins from those who remain perpetually unrepentant.

Selah.

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  • And I reckon that real freedom begins when we stop thinking about sin all the time. ‘Be on your guard!’, they say. But preoccupation with sin robs us of our freedom just as much as being ‘entrapped’ in a destructive habit.

    And I agree: gossip (and its close cousin, judgementalism) need to be squashed flat. Without anaesthetic 😉

  • It also depends on your denomination as to what constitutes sin. I grew up in Southern Baptist church where thinking something, even without acting on it, is sin. In the real world, one is held accountable for one’s actions, leaving the mind to be the place where one weighs the consequences of actions before committing them.

  • Tim

    This is what happens when sin (and Christianity, for that matter) are reduced to sets of rules to keep.

  • Brandon Roberts

    everything is a sin.