List o’ Sin

How does God determine sin? Somewhere is there a listing of every sin that could possibly be committed? And does God keep track of every one of those? And does he categorize sins? Is one sin worse than another? It seems to me that viciously knifing my roommate to death would be a worse sin than driving 66 mph in a 65 mph zone. Can sins be categorized as felonies and misdemeanors? I suppose sin would follow the same rules as crime. You are a criminal if you commit one crime; you are a sinner if you commit one sin. The severity of the penalty and the frequency of the action matter not. In simple terminology, you are either a criminal or you aren’t; a sinner or you aren’t. But as humans we have a concept of a worse criminal. There’s a petty thief, and a vicious slasher. One is a horrible criminal, and the other is still a criminal, but the word seems rather harsh.

I know there are simple Sunday School answers to these questions. Sin is sin in God’s eyes (as if we can presume to know what God’s eyes see), and they are all equal sins in that they all separate us from eternal glory with Christ Jesus. Perfect answer for you, ten points in Theological Trivia. But you’ve failed to grapple with the question. Try again.

When does a sin count against me? Is it in the actual physical act? Or as Jesus alluded, does sin begin in my mind? Does the very thought of driving 66 mph in a 65 mph zone constitute a sin? And what if the Bible doesn’t talk about it? Certainly the Bible says murder is a no-no. But what about something as taboo as masturbation–a subject no one likes to bring up? The Bible never says ‘Thou shalt not–‘ I won’t go there. But you get my point. Sure, some people dig deep into the Old Testament and pull some verses out of context to say that semen should not be allowed to touch the ground, therefore masturbation is a sin–which sounds all happy and logical until you realize there’s a plethora of teenage boys out there who are now sinners in their sleep, vile commiters of the nocturnal emission (not to mention the larger plethora of boys guilty of the first offense). Then there are others saying it’s quite all right, have fun. Of course those words leave a funny taste in your mouth when you consider Jesus’ words to not commit adultery in your heart. While masturbating can you successfully keep all adulterous thoughts from your mind? No pun intended, but it seems like a very sticky issue.

And what about a passage of time when what was once a sin is suddenly no longer a sin for a particular person. Marriage is the only example I can think of. In a space of time having sex transforms from being a sin of adultery to an act of loving confirmation. And what is that space of time? Is it only official when the bride and groom leave church, or can they get it on in the middle of the service? Now I’ve offended you, but can you answer my question? When does the couple suddenly become married and sex no longer a sin? A profound change occurs in that forty minute service, and for once I’m beginning to see a mystical holiness in the Catholic understanding of the sacraments. Something greater than we can understand must be going on if what was once a sin is suddenly acceptable. And what makes it acceptable? Is it the words of an ordained priest, or will the stamp of the state of Minnesota be adequate?

These are all legalistic questions and I highly doubt God is that concerned. But does it just come down to a relative answer? God knows my heart and he knows when it’s a sin and when it’s not? Gee, that’s great for God, but what about me? Or do I not matter?

These questions and more are why God didn’t put me in charge. Sometimes you just have to let God be God, and be content with that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.