I am not certain how to hook you into reading this post, but I always found such things as a “hook” to be arbitrary in the grand scheme of things. In an intellectual book, I care not if the book has a good introduction only that the substance is profound and enlightening. Thus, since I can not come up with a good introduction on whim, I will put it to you plainly. Additionally, In any case, such a situation might be blessing as I believe the “hooks” I come up with to be cheesy.
Well to be plain, I am in, and have been in, circumstances that have changed me and matured me, much like everyone else has had such experiences. Though currently, I have come to realization that sin and virtues are at times over simplified into simple categories of white and black, especially so, from what I have seen of Protestantism. I can remember being a teenager and watching hour long sermon after hour long sermon. This activity was what I did for fun back then as I was attending a community college near where I lived. As such, most people at the community college were way older than me and there wasn’t much social bonds or activities to be found. Thus, being the weird 18 or 19 year old I was, I took to watching sermons and trying to answer my own questions about my religion.
Distictly, I can remember the harsh sound of a preacher who criticized people for being what he called “people pleasers.” From the impression I got, and what I recall, he seemed to think it was a simple choice. He seem to portray it as a simple realization of standing up for yourself. These simplifications, from what I can remember, are very common. Another example, we say jealousy is bad and that we should not be jealous. There are much more examples I can give, but for the sake of brevity I shall stick to these two and clarify how sins should not entirely be looked at in simple terms.
To clarify my first example, the problem with what the preacher called “people pleasing” is that it seemed to have a personal a opinion and bias to it. However, let’s say such a notion was clearly stated in the Bible to be wrong. The problem with the way he simply puts it, as a change that can happen that night and it’s easy, presents this idea of it not being a more deeper seated issue. Additionally, much like everything else people pleasing is not an entirely bad habit, unless you compromise your own values. I would say, a child should want to please his parents. That is not a desire that is wrong. You should want to please your supervisor at work and do a good job. This, again, is not a bad quality, unless you compromise your own beliefs and values. You should also want to please your wife or your husband. Additionally, should you not want to make a friend happy and make thier day? No, such is a good thing. However, this only explains half of my arguement. What the preacher also did not include was the psychology behind personalty types. The fact is some personalty types get joy from pleasing other. Again, such a thing is not necessarily bad until it is out of balance. Additionally, let’s say one does compromise thier values in a certain situation because they are pressured, guilted, or manipulated into it. In the strict black and white sense, this circumstance, in Protestant theology and opinion, means nothing to how guilty a person is to commiting a sin. The problem with this simple classification is the lack of compassion, forgiveness, and understanding in it’s overall message. It lacks the compassion to see that abuse may have shaped a person into being a people pleaser. And, more importantly, it lacks the sight to see that there will be a struggle because it could be related to trauma. It is not a simple switch with being flipped off because of some enlightening moment, but it is a process. This, from what I can remember, was not mention, and in good will, may have been an oversight. The problem I am addressing is not the preacher, but the black and white categories that sins, and more importantly emotions, are put into.
Not to beat a dead horse, however, I feel I can gain more understanding by discussing the problem with Jealousy. Typically, jealousy is always defined as evil, and yet we, when I was a Methodist, never talk about how God being jelous for his people when they made idols to worship is a good thing. Jealousy in the right context is good. If another man is kissing your wife then you should be jealous. It is the samething as what God felt when his people, who made a covenant with him, started worshiping idols. As you can see, jealousy is wrong when it is not in the right context. However, to expand one’s view beyound that, jealousy is wrong in certain circumstances, but there may be an unmet need associated with jealousy. Jealousy can be a result of more complicated problems that will take time to heal. This, in particular, I am coming to understand myself. Jealousy is not an evil thing in the sense that everyone chooses to do it like one would with murder. Its a more complicated matter, and there should be compassion for it as well. Yet when we define sins into broad categories and don’t explore the situations, we pigeon whole something and never treat the root cause or figure out how to heal. Even worse, we define it wholly as a sin and do not see that in certain contexts it is not a sin.
To conclude, this rather more lengthy then intended post, things should be meditated on and be understood in a less black and white mindset. It leaves out key information and realistic ways to overcome sin in one’s life. In my opinion, this black and white simplification is at it’s worst when sins are thought to be all equal in value. I can remember as a child telling myself that my little white lie was the same thing as murder. This is unrealistic, and not to mention unbiblical. Additionally, from the perspective of black and white there is less compassion and no regard for circumstances. More importantly, it can be unrealistic.