The Problem With "Respectable" Sin

Have Christians lost sight of what they share in common with their neighbors?

by Betsy Mayer

Of the five children that my parents raised, I was the family sneak. And I was good at it! My personality probably enabled my vice. A pleaser, I couldn’t bear to be outwardly rebellious. So I lived my “other self” on the sly and appeared to be a good and compliant child.

It wasn’t until I made a serious commitment to the Lord at age 16 that I had to confront my own two-faced sinfulness and my need for a Savior. Until then, I had been busy comparing myself with others—and looking pretty good.

Next, the Lord spent a great deal of time showing me deep-rooted, sinful attitudes and tendencies that had to be eliminated to save me from falling into serious future sins. I had been blind to these areas in my life, since I had grown up in a conservative environment where these sparks could not so easily be fanned into flames. As children, we do not always know the depravity of our own natures and the potential that lies in us to do unspeakable evil.

When we have allowed God to do this work in our hearts, we are not horrified by the sins of others. When we meet those who are or have been bound by “seven demons,” we understand that were it not for grace, we too, would be there. We share common ground—sinful natures—and this knowledge should keep Christians humble, easy to approach, and willing to offer compassion and assistance to anyone fighting the battle of sin.

This understanding also makes it impossible for us to categorize sins as respectable and unrespectable, for no sin can ever be respectable. Why then, do Christians so easily find themselves categorizing sin and sinners?

I have a number of friends who have pursued the gay and lesbian lifestyle. Some of them seem happy to remain where they are; others express a desire to change. While I have not found the lifestyle tempting,

I understand the nature of temptation and the power of sin in my own life. The work that Christ has done in my life has made it possible for me to see these friends as more similar to—rather than different—from me.

It is impossible for Christians who haven’t seen the depravity of their own hearts to feel compassion for those whose sins have made it onto the unrespectable list. The list itself is probably the greatest evidence of their lack of conversion. Until we confront this attitude in our own hearts and in our Christian circles, we will fail to convince the world that our Christ is for anyone beyond an elite clique of moralists.

The Christian church laments the secularism and immorality that stalks its former strongholds. But what picture of Christ have we offered? Have former Christian societies turned their backs on Christ or on our Christ-less Christianity?

And while, as Christians, we should be concerned about the lawlessness taking over our societies, we should be more deeply concerned with searching our own hearts. A deep revival in the church is more needed than a constitutional amendment to save the institution of marriage. If we Christians could share a living Christ with the world, if we could show that our hearts and lives have been thoroughly transformed by His grace and love, we might find more in common with our “pagan” neighbors than expected. And they in turn might believe that the answers we’ve found just might work for them.

Taken from Last Generation, Vol. 24, No.4. Last Generation is a vibrant 32-page soul-winning magazine published six times a year. To subscribe, call (540) 672-1996, Ext. 283.

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