Much of our Western world denies that sin really exists. One respondent stated:
· I am convinced that sin does not exist; nor am I tainted with it. Sin is the fearful creation of medieval minds.
· To deny the reality of sin is also to deny the objective reality of guilt and shame. It is like denying that your kitchen is on fire or that you have operable cancer. Such denial might be comforting in the short run, but in the long run, there is a great price to be paid.
Is sin really so tangible. Well, let’s look at one of its common manifestations – the wake produced by guilt. Guilt is so powerful that it has taken us captive. Consequently, humanity can be characterized by our attempt to rationalize away this very disturbing and shaming feeling and has resorted to many techniques to overcome these life-controlling feelings. Here are a few of the ways:
1. We deny the existence of Sin.
2. We harden our conscience and insist that morality is relative, just something we create.
3. We might even deny that we have freewill to convince ourselves that we aren’t culpable.
4. We give ourselves positive affirmations, even when they contradict the reality of our lives.
5. We distract, drug, and busy ourselves to avoid sin’s voice.
6. We go to a psychologist to teach us to love ourselves.
7. We feverishly seek out accomplishments, power, prestige, and money so that we can tell our guilt/shame feelings that they are lying.
8. We wear fronts to disguise who we really are.
All of these maneuvers represent a flight from the self, making it impossible to really know ourselves, despite all of our mindfulness meditations. They also testify that we do believe in sin, at least on a subliminal level.
Although these solutions might cover or repress our guilt and shame, they are unable to get at its root – that we are indeed guilty.
However, when we treat sin as if it really exists, we can do something about it. Similarly, when we are willing to acknowledge that our house is on fire, we can take remedial action, if only to call for help.
But what action is necessary to address sin? Well, for starters, we have to admit our wrong, especially to the one we have offended, and to apologize!
Here, however, we run into a predicament. For one thing, we have been denying the reality of sin so long that it is also impossible to face it. It is too damaging to our self-image. How? We have to appear right and virtuous. It’s too painful to appear otherwise.
Besides, if you do not believe in sin, then you do not believe you have anything to apologize for. Okay, you say that you have to apologize to repair a relationship, but if you do not believe you have done anything wrong, you are acting hypocritically if you apologize. Besides, eventually you will be found out.
To deny sin is to deny a critical aspect of our lives and to run from what our conscience wants to tell us. And if we will not listen to ourselves, we will not listen to others either. Ironically, by denying sin, we live as its captives.