So if you remember, one of the things I complained about White Couch was the idea that sin makes Jesus sad. I’m seeing a really interesting parallel point in the recent Christianity Today debacle. So, to give a long story a brief treatment, Christianity Today ran a story last week about a youth pastor who sexually abused a youth under his leadership. Many people complained (rightly) that the article was incredibly problematic, riddled with language that seemed to remove the abuser from responsibility and make the focus all about how terrible the sin had made his life. After much uproar the article was (again rightly) taken down.
I think there is something really interesting going on here and it has to do with how different Christians and Christian groups view sin. I generally equate ‘sin’ with ‘wrong’. I see sin as the harmful things humans do. I’ve really been wondering lately if that’s backwards from the rest of Christianity. There have been more than a few sermons and books and blog posts that suggest sin is more like breaking a contract you made with God. This would mean the only problem with sinning is that it violates the promise you made. In my view of sin, I’m concerned with who or what is being hurt. In this alternate view of sin there is no need to be concerned with anything outside the sinner and God. I think that’s a problem. And I think that exact problem is why Christianity Today could run an article and not be aware of its offensiveness.
The way I see it, sin as “hurtful to God” or “makes Jesus sad” -is incomplete. If Christians stop there, it misses the impact sin has on others and the world. As Christians we need to not be missing that. I’m not even sure how asking God to forgive our sins can ever be complete if we ignore the harm our sins do outside of ourselves. Sin should never be just about God’s disappointment with us. For me Christianity has always been about paying attention to others. The impact we have on others needs to be a part of the conversation when we discuss sin. Period.