LIVING IN SIN?
Tradition has it that there was a time when bishops talked about God. Now it seems that all they can talk about is sex.
We have moved from theology to biology. Our interests have switched from God to gonads. Just about every issue confronting the Church and every controversy destroying our unity has to do with our human sexuality.
We no longer know who to ordain nor understand the meaning of marriage. Embarrassed by the differences between men and women. we have become a homosexual culture trying to make everyone the same as everyone else, Yet we cannot figure out what to do about gays and lesbians because men and women persist in being different from one another.
In the midst of all this confusion, our poor bewildered bishops have now told us that we should no longer talk about people “living in sin”, but except for a handful of old clerics and a few comedians well past their sell by date, we haven’t heard anyone talking about living in sin for years.
The problem with talking about people living in sin is not that people have quit sinning but that their sinfulness is too obvious to bother talking about. People have been living in sin ever since Eve wandered off into the Garden by herself, and in ways far worse than living with someone else without benefit of clergy.
Most all of us have known this for a very long time, and the bishops need not have bothered writing a long report about it. Instead of long reports about the obvious, the bishops should have told us why sexual relations outside the marriage bond are still wrong. We need to be told that they are wrong because they deny other people the opportunity to make a public celebration of the relationship, because the only thing two people can do by themselves is go crazy, because sex outside marriage isn’t sexy enough.
Marriage is a gift given to us by God, one which many people today may neither be ready nor capable of receiving. We dare not condemn these people any more than we dare condemn people for their pride or gluttony or anger. We must show our love for them, but we must do this by encouraging them to move forward from wherever they are in their personal pilgrimage, not by minimizing the necessity of Holy Matrimony.
SIN IS DISORDER
All sin is disorder.
Original sin is a person out of order.
Actual sin is an act out of order.
Holy disorder is a contradiction in terms. You can have holiness or you can have disorder, but you cannot have both together.
Yet some orders are better than others. Not all order is good. Most of this world’s orders, its political, economic and social orders are built on the ruins of human sinfulness. Secular order attempts to make the best of a bad job. And it usually fails miserably.
Christ came to establish a new order. ‘Behold’, He says, ‘I make all things new’.
In Christ’s new order the first are last and the last first, the rich poor and the poor rich. Salvation comes through the cross and death brings life. Love is self sacrifice and selfishness is sin.
The concept of sin is the greatest compliment that the human race has ever been given It says that we are free to choose what kind of order we wish to live in. We are no longer victims of every secular power and wind of fashion. We can know right from wrong and are free to choose either one or the other. We can sin and we can be sorry for our sins.
The Japanese cannot say ‘I am sorry’, either for war crimes or for anything else. Because they do not understand sin, they can only save face.
The Americans cannot say ‘I am sorry’ because they believe in sickness rather than sin. Instead of confession they get psychoanalysed.
The English cannot say ‘I am sorry’. They believe in fate rather than sin and try to keep a stiff upper lip.
But Christians who still believe in free will can say ‘I am sorry’. They can confess their sins and be forgiven. Instead of being plagued by guilt feelings they can own up to their sins and get on with life.
From the sickness of despair, the Christian is capable of rising to the order of forgiveness.