A Short Primer on Sin

It has occurred to me in the recent past that someone should probably put together a short and lively guide called something like The Idiot's Guide to Sin; or perhaps a longer treatise, still in the vernacular, with a title like The Idiot's Guide to God's Love. Too often we are completely lost when it comes to these matters.  And perhaps that explains the remarkable breath of fresh air that blew in as I read the passage recorded below.

from Father Fiction
Donald Miller

"Yeah, I think it's wrong," I started in. "But let's not turn the idea of right and wrong into coloring book material. This is a very complex subject. Sin, if we want to call it sin, is stuff that we do that God doesn't like and the reason he doesn't like it is because he loves us, he is fathering us, and when we sin, we weaken ourselves, we confuse ourselves, we practice immaturity. He doesn't like that, not because he wants to feel powerful or right but because he wants what is best for us. That's the first thing we have to remember about all of this."


"Well, let's consider the value of the dollar. Ultimately, logically, the dollar has no value at all. It's a piece of paper. It only has value because we say it has value and because we agree on a system of bartering that maintains that value. Great care is taken to keep the value of the dollar strong. . . . Sex is like that. God is concerned with the value of sex staying high. It's important to a person's health, a family's health, and a society's health. But like anything, sex can be cheapened in our minds, so we don't hold it in high esteem. God doesn't think this is a good thing. Stuff God doesn't think is good is called sin."  (p. 132-133)

The passages recorded above were spoken to a bunch of guys in a fraternity asking particularly about the nature of sexual sin.  But the scope of what is said is strong enough to apply in almost any situation--particularly the first passage.  God is concerned about sin and sinfulness not because he is a terrorizing autocrat (pace Mr. Hitchens--may you continue in your recovery) but, because, like any sane, reasonable, and loving father he wants for us what is best--not what is good enough--but the very best.  When I look upon my own son, I want for him the very best things--chief among them a life full of happiness and joy.  So too with God.  We hear about sin as though it is a long checklist of things to avoid for fear of God's wrath--but perhaps it is better to think of it as a list of things that will grieve Our Father, NOT because they offend Him personally but because they cause us to have less than the very best.  Therefore we hear that God hates sin--this is absolutely true--He hates it with the passion any parent hates anything that causes harm to their child.  But He never, never, never hates the sinner.  Rather, he mourns for the goodness in life that has been relinquished as a result of choosing the lesser good.


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