I think one reason why there is so much confusion in the world today is that we don’t even know how to distinguish between good and evil. Could we even agree on what an evil action is? How do we define sin? Can you sin even if you don’t hurt anybody?
In my own opinion, I don’t think any action would be a sin in its true substance if it doesn’t hurt anybody. Why would it be considered something evil if it causes no harm to anyone?
Is there such a thing as harmless sin?
I think our biggest problem isn’t that we’re committing a harmless sin. Our biggest problem is that we don’t know the catastrophic consequences of our sinful acts.
We are blind to the damage being caused by sin in our lives and the lives of other people. And this blindness is what makes us think we’re not doing anything wrong.
Along the way, however, we experience the fruits of sin in our lives. And we may finally appreciate the reason why God gave us laws to guide our lives.
God does not forbid us to do anything out of whim. He gives us laws to follow because not following them would cause us great harm.
True sin always hurts someone. It hurts God. It hurts others. It hurts your own soul.
Why are we blind to sin?
There are many reasons why we don’t see sin for what it truly is.
First, our human limitations may prevent us from seeing the indirect consequences of our actions. Quite often, we don’t see the whole picture. We see only a part where the effects of sin are not visible to our limited perception.
But we don’t see how something we said or did has affected another person. We don’t know the true impact of our lives on the society we’re living in.
Wouldn’t it be too much to assume that we haven’t hurt a single human being just because we did not see that hurt with our naked eyes?
Sin grows. That little seed you have planted can one day be a menacing tree whose roots you can no longer easily break.
Secondly, we can’t see because we may have intentionally closed our eyes to the truth. Sin blocks our spiritual vision. It deceives us and exaggerates its benefits while hiding the great damage it does to our souls.
Pride can keep us blind. Selfishness can turn our eyes away from seeing the light.
When it isn’t enough not to do any harm
At the end of the day, it isn’t enough to live a life merely avoiding any harm.
We may convince ourselves that we’re not just like other criminals who take the lives and properties of other people. We’re not someone to intentionally hurt those around us.
But are we also the kind of people who intentionally desire to do good?
Are we growing in holiness? Or are we growing in selfishness?
If you’re not growing in virtue and love, what kind of person are you growing into day by day?
Because it isn’t enough not to sin. We must do good.
It isn’t enough to do no harm. We must grow in holiness and love.
“But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved.” – James 1:14-16 (NRSVCE)
“I hurt myself deeply, though at the time I had no idea how deeply. I should have learned many things from that experience, but when I look back on it, all I gained was one single, undeniable fact. That ultimately I am a person who can do evil. I never consciously tried to hurt anyone, yet good intentions notwithstanding, when necessity demanded, I could become completely self-centred, even cruel. I was the kind of person who could, using some plausible excuse, inflict on a person I cared for a wound that would never heal.”― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun
Jocelyn Soriano is the author of the book Defending My Catholic Faith.
“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” – 1 Peter 3:15 (NABRE)
You may also want to read “What Is The Unforgivable Sin?”