Dear Beloved: Is ______ a Sin?
I get questions like this a lot. “Is such and such a sin?” “Should I be doing this?” “Is it wrong if I do that? The list goes on.
One of thing these questions can tell me (not always) is you don’t really understand what it means to be a Christian. If you think it’s about figuring out what you are allowed and not allowed to do, you’re missing the point. You’re missing out on the love story meant for you.
But if you really want to know how I figure these things out, here it is. There’s a few things to remember the first of which is the Bible is not a comprehensive list of the things we should and shouldn’t do. The second is following the rules to a “T” does not necessarily equate to following God. In fact, it can be idolizing the rules. And third is the guidelines for the rules hangs on relationships. And there are probably a few other things that I’ve forgotten between thinking about this and writing it, but moving on…
Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So how does that work? Jesus summed up the ten commandments plus the Levitical law plus any other sinfulness into 2 commands. Love God, Love people. Let’s analyze this real quick with just a piece of love, honor/respect. I am in no way limiting the definition of love to honor or respect here, but I do believe them to be a necessary partial in love. Why does the Bible say to have no other gods before God? By having other gods before Him, we are not honoring Him. Why should we not lie to another? Quite simply it is not respectful to them. How about sex outside of marriage? That is not honoring to your future spouse, the person you are having sex with, and their future spouse. Now what about a committed relationship… it isn’t honoring to God’s purpose for sex (uniting man and wife to one). By not sticking to his purposes we are not honoring Him and His plans. Is it wrong to read/watch certain things? Does it honor your relationship with God by doing so and will someone else have a bettered or at not fall in their relationship with God by you reading/watching it? I could go on, but I don’t feel the need to right now.
The point is God made us for relationships. Us with Him, Us with others, Others with Him. If an act we commit steps in the way of one of these relationships being good/healthy, there is a good chance of it being a sin.
I personally feel at the core of all sin is a form of self idolatry; oftentimes it’ll come in the form of pride and/or selfishness. We think we’re better so we don’t have to honor them. We deserve this so we should have it no matter the costs. We’re idolizing this thing, because it boosts our ego, or we want it, or because we want something else we will get by idolizing it or we deserve it, etc. It doesn’t affect us so it is okay even if it hurts someone else. When we are putting ourselves first, the other relationships will suffer. Here’s another method of checking… analyze the core reasoning behind the action. If it is solely for self-gain, if you can break it down to idolizing oneself, there’s a good chance it is a sin.