Nobody panic as if I have suddenly gone off the rails and plan to reject objective truth, adopt moral relativism, and rewrite the ten commandments.
The subjectivity of “sin” I am speaking of relates to things like, not putting the shopping cart back, wearing red shoes, having a tattoo, wearing a pink streak in your hair, yoga pants, eating kale, voting for the wrong political party, being a fan of the Walking Dead, singing off key, cursing, buying lottery tickets, having debt, going to Starbucks, driving a Prius, wearing red shoes…. did I mention the red shoes? The red shoes kind of pushed my buttons.
Least anybody feel silly about these things, let me tell you, the secular world has it own list of subjective “sins” that are enough to boggle the brain, too. This is just human nature at work. We people can be very subjective, judgmental, and shaming of others.
In all seriousness, I have had some deep discussions with people who perceive all of these things to be “sins” and they have provided lots of scripture to back it up…..almost, sort of. I mean, loosely translated I can relate and understand where they are coming from. There actually is no direct biblical injunction against wearing red shoes for example. We could speak of modesty, ostentation, and worldly-ness…. ……or we could just shut the heck up and mind our own business.
That’s how I define a subjective “sin,” it bothers us personally, but it is more about culture, perception, styles, personal opinion, then it is about any genuine objective morality around sin. To complicate things, we ourselves may be deeply convicted about it, but God has a completely different expectation of someone else.
Does that rankle anyone? That rankles me. I’m a bit like a little kid, no fair! No fair! How come that guy’s tattoo might not be “sin” but mine would be? How come she can curse up a storm but God won’t even let me say “crap?” How come the older kids get to stay out late but I’m supposed to be home by dark?
Life is actually not fair, we need to accept that. There are different standards for different people. I could quite easily have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer in the summer with little risk or consequence, but there are some who would actually be sinning because either God has told them they shouldn’t drink, or else they have demonstrated it themselves. “Wine” itself is not a sin, but our relationship, our response to it sure can be. That is one of the numerous things in life that is not always fair, where “sin” can actually apply different standards to different people. Some people can’t eat peanuts and peanut allergies can be pretty serious. “Sin” in the sense, if one were to deliberately ingest them, one would be in trouble.
The subjectivity of “sin” can be kind of fun to play with, as a tool, as a mirror in which to view one’s own self. The things that we care about in others are often the things we ourselves are experiencing, need to deal with. I rarely feel convicted by someone else simply naming something as “sin,” because it doesn’t really speak to me directly. It speaks more to them and who they are. If one is snipping and sniping about red shoes for example, then we can go, ah, so their issue is envy. If someone is plagued by yoga pants and pink hair than we can go, ah, so lust is a real problem for you…..
Hopefully I’ve managed to offend everyone at this point, but I am not quite finished yet. If we totally freak out and get mad because someone mentioned the “sin” of leaving a shopping cart in the parking lot, well then there is something going on within us. We are feeling convicted or shamed or something. Don’t ask me, ask God. He’s the one who sorts those things out with us.
This dance between objectivity, subjectivity, and conviction is kind of becoming a lost art in our world. I keep saying we always need to ask, is it true? Well, the Truth is a person, so if you wish to find the Truth, start looking for it at the foot of the cross. He can’t be found in a list of subjectively defined sins. He can’t even be found in a list of objectively defined ones, although those things will at least teach you a bit about His nature and what He finds important.
Somebody smart once said, “rules are a list of can’t dos, Grace is the freedom of wants to.” I like that, it’s a tongue twister. As we grow in faith, as we avail ourselves of Grace, there is desire to be pleasing to God in EVERYTHING, even the things not in “the rules.” The rules are often not even His at all, but our own or someone else’s. God will even break the rules, the human ones, not His own.