Monday, July 17, 2006

What's the big deal about sin?

Two recent comments seem to circle around the same issue. Jeff commented that he never understood why sin necessitated a savior; and Jose said the idea that God was absent from earth out of mercy, so that he wouldn't have to punish sin, sounded like a cop-out.

So I'd hear from your, reader: does God hate sins, big and small, and why?


Jeff said...

I think we have to differentiate between two kinds of sins. The first is a sin against God, i.e. doing something that God told us not to do but that doesn't hurt anyone else. This sort of sin is addressed in the first half of the Ten Commandments (though 5 is a little bit of both). The second sort, addressed in the latter half of the Decalogue, is the sin against other people.

Jewish rabbis have generally come to the consensus that God doesn't care as much about sins against God; rather, God is more concerned with sins against other people. God would like us to be repentant and change when we sin against God. But at the end of the day, you're judged on whether or not you were a good person - and the occasional oyster doesn't affect that. So I don't think God hates all sins, at least not with the same level of intensity.

Ben said...

Well, this is obviously where we come to a simple difference in theology.

See I define all sin, at its base, as doing something which ruptures our relationship with God. It's not just breaking some rule - although at some simplistic level it is that, too. It's rebelling against God, denying out need for Him, and going our own way.

Under this definition, there is no "sin against man" vs. "sin against God" distinction. If I sin against my brother, then I sin against God. This is because, in harming my fellow man, I am not living in the loving way God intended and I am rebelling against Him....severing the relationship with Him.

I also believe that God is quite zealous for (a) His own glory and (b) His relationship with us. These are not mutually exclusive goals and, indeed, may be one and the same. When I sin - whether big or small, whether harming my neighbor or only myself - I (a) dishonor God and (b) cut off my relationship with Him.

So, yes, God hates sin. Period.

That said, I'm not sure I understood or agree with you saying God is absent from the earth. I meant to respond to that but Bar Review got in the way. I may respond to that later.