Monday, June 6, 2011

pondering sin

Something has bothered me since I was very young. The Bible says it's wrong to lie, but Rahab lied and she was rewarded? She's listed in Hebrews 11 among the most faithful people ever to live? She's even listed in the lineage of Christ!

This is different than the whole, "David committed adultery and killed people" thing. Those things were forgiven. But Rahab's deceit is celebrated. It is the very cause of her celebrity.

Are there other examples of this?

I was surprised to learn that when Ruth uncovered Boaz's "feet" the cultural language infers that she actually uncovered his... well, it's a euphemism for... himself. And that to lie with him meant to, well... lie with him. (granted, depending on who you read, some answer this euphemism idea with a "well yeah, duh?" and others greet the suggestion with a "what!? of course not!!" so, take that for what it's worth) Even if they didn't ... well, you know ... her coming to him all perfumed up and sleeping the night in his bed was still risque enough for Boaz to say, "No one must know she came to me like this." And she too is in the lineage of Christ. (in fact Rahab was Boaz's mother, which is pretty cool if you ask me)

So, what the what is going on here? How are we supposed to know what's a sin and what's not? Am I the only one who requires a bit of consistency?

I figure, my idea of sin must be warped. And so I ponder... I ponder sin/sins/sinning and what all that even MEANS. I go to scripture and read, "Everything that does not come from faith is sin."

Okay, so what does THAT mean?

So I think about what Jesus said. He didn't lower the standard on sin, He raised it from where the religious culture of His time had it set. He made it about our heart's intent, not merely about our actions. He said, "You say adultery is a sin but I say if you lust you're guilty". Well, that must have rung in the ears of those dropping their stones. Have you ever driven through the Bible Belt? Well, I live here, and have driven through it's "buckle" (which I'd argue is south of NC) enough times to know: Vegas aint got nothing on the Southeast. Adult "bookstores", night clubs, strip joints, video stores ... every other billboard! Anytime Eric and I drive through SC we play a betting game on whether we'll see more churches or advertisements for porn.

Jesus also said, "You say murder is a sin but I say anyone who calls someone a fool is guilty." Our society is made up of folks calling one another a lot worse names than "fool" and feeling completely justified in doing so - plastering demeaning language all over facebook, forwarding emails that are just downright MEAN.

Not to mention forgiveness! Jesus said if we don't forgive others then God won't forgive us. Chew on that one for a while, folks. Because a lot of those quickest to categorize people into "sin groups" don't feel the least bit guilty carrying a personal grudge around for YEARS, taking it right to their death bed. What happens when they meet God?

I ponder all this when I think of something my gay Christian friend said to me,
"I truly believe that if I were living in sin, or if sin were roaring in my spirit, then God wouldn't be so real to me--and so ALIVE! He wouldn't pour out blessings on my life. He wouldn't commune with me on such a personal level. Instead, I would be convicted. God would be distant. I would feel the guilt & shame I feel when I'm unkind to a colleague, or when I participate in a conversation that doesn't honor Christ. There are so many times that I'm filled up with regret or guilt and I say..."Lord, I'm really sorry. That was SO opposite what you want for my life and I will make it right." So I do sin. And I know it. And the Holy Spirit definitely kicks my rear end into place always and often. I just firmly believe that if my homosexuality is a sin, the Holy Spirit would convict me of it---in the same way He bears witness with my spirit on so many other topics each and every day."

I think about that. How can you read those words and not at least THINK about what they say? What they mean?

Can something seemingly "sinful" not be when the heart is taken into account? When it's motivated by faith... or love?

I'm asking questions, and I'll keep asking them. Because I don't know. It sure seems so.

Guess we'll have to ask Rahab...

1 comment:

christina britt lewis said...

fascinated by your friend's thoughts. sounds like she knows peace that passes understanding. you know it when you hear it when you have it, don't you? you can't give that to somebody and you can't take that from somebody. it just is. when i hear somebody say they believe something, but don't have peace about it...i feel hopeful for them and i start singing "it's not a hill, it's a mountain, as you start out the climb. do you believe me or are you doubting? we're gonna make it all the way to the light..."