Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A sin is a sin is a sin... is a lie

Have you ever heard someone say "a sin is a sin" or "all sin is the same to God?"

I remember a conversation I had last semester about homosexuality. We were talking about how the Church should be dealing with the issue and weather or not it’s a “sin.” At one point in the conversation my friend said something like: “well, it’s not a special sin. I see it like any other sin—like lying or murder.” Now essentially what my friend said is that being gay is no different from being a murderer.

All sin is sin… it that sense, yes, it is all the same to God. Nothing is overlooked by God as unimportant. All sin has a profound effect on the world but when we go around talking as if lying and murder are one in the same we’re going to do one of two things. 1) We’re placing the guilt of a murderer onto a liar. 2) We’re downplaying murder in the eyes of a liar. One could say “I lie all the time and my life is going pretty well, if murder is the same thing then I guess in the end it’ not that bad unless you get caught.”

We must make distinctions and not just about weather lying is worse than or better than murder but we must also distinguish lying from lying and murder from murder. Not all murder is the same and not all lies are the same. Our ethics depend on these distinctions. One thing must be more important to us than another.

Jesus felt that it was more important to preserve life than to keep that Sabbath. “I have a question for you. Is it legal to do good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing harm? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” (Luke 6:9). For Jesus, life and people were more important than some of the laws which he himself taught.

The Church wastes so much energy and so many resources because it has become obsessed with the wrong problems. Should I spend more time worrying about cuss words than genocide? Unless you see a distinction between these two, you’ll have trouble answering this question.

A sin is a sin is a sin… is a lie!

What’s more important to you? What’s more worth preserving? Maybe that is where you should be using your energy.


Noah said...

Interesting post. I think it all depends on the context and how you are viewing the issue.

1. All sin is sin and, as you said, it is all the same to God.

2. Different sins have different manifestations and consequences in our world. From this perspective every sin is different. I would say this is where ethics comes into play.

3. Regarding your point on the Law and Jesus' teaching, one could make the point that Jesus was calling the contemporary interpretations and extrapolations of the Law into question, not the actual Law itself.

WES ELLIS said...

Good points Noah.
It certainly does depend on context and I mean only to approach it in my particular context. I just think we'd be mistaken if we decided to equate all sin on the same level. This will vastly change the way we treat people and how we use our energy.

Albert Frost said...

Thanks for this great post. Perhaps to re-state the point in different terms, fatherly Love has one concern, and that is the truest well-being of the one loved. Is it not then, more desparate when your daughter is a meth addict, than when your daughter breaks the speed limit. Sin, by nature, has different effects. Shouldn't Love, then, have different reactions?

For what it's worth.