A Wise Life

A blog by Lisa M. Price

Okay, so, I am a little more familiar with the sin of bitterness than I or anyone else probably ought to be. I actually consider myself to be something of an expert on the topic.

Sigh.

Bitterness is not a subject that gets discussed much in church-y circles. It should be, because my experiences are not all that unique or special. Bitterness is one of those ugly little sins no one wants to own-up to but that we all struggle with at some point in our lives.

Sentimentality is certainly not a sin. However, it can easily cross the line into sinful territory if we make the object of our sentimentality into an idol we worship.

Conversely, there are churches and Christians whose entire religious identity is built around preventing sexual activity of any kind from taking place in the lives of unmarried people. Those churches (and Christians) spend more time addressing the spiritual threats of swimsuits, hand-holding and premarital front-hugs than they do discussing salvation and related issues such as repentance and discipleship. This is not only a serious derailment from the churches principal mission (Matthew 28:17-20, 2nd Timothy 2:4, Matthew 10:8) it also makes Christians look like a bunch of sex-obsessed weirdos.

Sigh.

There are sins that (thankfully) seem to be unique to a few (seriously creepy) individuals. We might joke about murder. However, few of us actually kill people. Even fewer people joke about cannibalism, human sacrifice or most of the sins listed in Leviticus chapter twenty. Thankfully even fewer people commit those sins (if they do I choose to remain blissfully ignorant).

Then there are the other sins.

 One of the stranger things that was once considered a good thing (or at least a neutral thing) that has become a bad thing is cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is the practice of borrowing (some would say stealing) the best aspects of a culture and appropriating or adopting those things into another culture. Ancient Romans were among the first to appropriate other cultures but Americans have perfected the practice. That is why Americans can say with a straight face that something is as “American as apple pie” when apples are from Asia and the practice of baking apples into pies began in England during the Middle Ages.

That said, I do not believe that “all sin is the same”. Nor do I believe that the view that “all sin is the same” can be backed up biblically (1st John 5:17, Matthew 12:31, 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, Ephesians 5:5, Galatians 5:21). Furthermore, this ridiculous view is actually leading to more sin rather than less, and therefore ought to be examined more closely.

Before you write me off as a wild-eyed heretic, hear me out.

By far, the nastiest and most damaging form of church hurt comes at the hands of so-called shepherds (Isaiah 56:11). False teachers, who use and abuse their spiritual authority to control, manipulate, defraud or sexually exploit those they have been tasked with caring for.

The Christian standard of love is outrageously high and almost impossible to achieve, mostly because some people are jerks and God calls us to love them anyway. Scripture commands we love people who do not love us back and those who openly despise us. We are also instructed to love people who make fun of what we believe, insult our intelligence and tell lies about us (Romans 12:9-21).

This is quite obviously easier said than done.

Screaming you want a divorce in the middle of a stupid squabble is the emotional equivalent of choosing the nuclear option. There is absolutely nowhere productive the conversation can go from there. Divorce is not a word that should be uttered casually, in anger, or ever, if you care anything at all about staying married.

Over the course of the last few years I have been given the “opportunity” to work through two unrelated and dissimilar situations, both requiring me to forgive some massive and very personal hurts. I concluded after working through those situations that none of the quotes I have seen tell the complete story of forgiveness. Sappy sentimentalities and inspiring quips extolling the virtues and benefits of forgiveness inevitably miss a core truth.

Forgiveness is hard.