By Ian Hodge
“Talking about “sin” these days is… complicated. One can observe the sort of contempt Western culture developed toward the idea of sin simply by watching commercials. Think about it—just about every commercial for a rich, high calorie dessert says that it’s “sinful.” Why do I call such an innovation contemptuous? Because the traditional seriousness attached to sin was such that its consequence was hell, but now all it means is an expanding waistline!
Something interesting has been happening lately, however, perhaps best exemplified by the “Me-too” movement. We are getting serious about sin again as a society. We are calling out sexual exploitation as evil. And in many ways, this is a good thing; a more sane way of dealing with the world. Those who prey on others sexually are deserving of judgment greater than an expanding waistline.
But because we rejected the concept of sin for so long, we haven’t been very thoughtful in dealing with it today. First, we’ve taken the approach that dealing with sin means that everyone everywhere must express an acceptable level of outrage, or be lumped in with those deserving punishment. The important thing is apparently to find what is evil, then to gather around it and throw stones. Now of course sin is bad and ought to be clearly identified as such. But sin is also the great equalizer. The Biblical testimony is that “All have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) A quote often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi reads, “An eye for an eye leaves the world blind.” And when people full of moral outrage brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus, his response was, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
But what is even more important to my mind is that in an age with a new intolerance for at least some sins, there is little to no room for redemption. Those society shames are directed to leave and never come back. Our actions seem to show that we are convinced people never change and never ought to be restored.
But God shows us a better way. In the words of Richard Mouw in his book Restless Faith, it’s to “explain the meaning of our “lostness” [sin] in a way that points us to the abundant grace that is made available to us through the Savior’s redemptive work.” Perhaps more simply in John Newton’s words in the immortal Amazing Grace, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound / that saved a wretch like me / I once was lost, but now am found / ’twas blind, but now I see!”
Punishment, outrage, and all the rest need not be the end of our dealing with sin. It’s all been dealt with already in Jesus Christ. Christ has died, absorbing the penalty for sin; Christ has risen from the dead, showing that there is life after sin, and so much more! Yes, Harvey Weinstein may never make another movie again because of what he did; but he can be transformed, even restored, as can I, and as can you! And shouldn’t we all root for that?
Ian Hodge is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Lemon Cove. He may be reached by calling 559-597-2249.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.