When I was visiting family over Thanksgiving, I had a conversation with some Southern Baptist family members who speak often of a friend of theirs who they care much about. They said this friend is very curious about Christianity and Jesus but always gets hung up “on the sin thing.”
You hear all the time that many people love the idea of Jesus but they hate the church that represents him. Or that Christians are hypocrites because they always talk about sin in the world, sin in people’s lives, etc. while turning a blind eye to their own shortcomings. Christians try to solve the problems of the church by rallying around the idea of “hate the sin, love the sinner” but the North American culture finds Christians increasingly annoying and irrelevant. (A personal aside: people hate when you say “hate the sin, love the sinner” and it’s a personal pet peeve to trivialize deeply significant issues with such a trite phrase.)
As a word, sin has lost its meaning and theological gravity. In our culture’s vernacular, we talk about chocolate cake being sinfully good. We call one of our favorite getaways Sin City.
Sin has ceased to be a serious word in the North American culture. Outside of the narrow Christian world, any sense of sin as a serious category for behavior or explaining the world has been lost. Sin is a once weighty but now vacuous term, something we use to talk about chocolate-covered strawberries and slot machines rather than the condition of our hearts and communities.
What do you think?
If people are intrigued by Jesus but “get hung up on the sin thing,” does it make sense to jettison sin and find new ways to talk about the problems we face?