Abandoning the language of sin?

By Dave Henning / January 26, 2023

“Abandoning the language of sin will not make it go away.  Human beings will continue to experience alienation, deformation, damnation, and death no matter what we call them.  Abandoning the language will simply leave us speechless before them, and increase our denial of their presence in our lives.”- Episcopal priest Barbara Browne Taylor, Speaking of Sin: The Lost Language of Salvation (2001)

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it.  Love your neighbor as yourself.”- Matthew 25:37-39 (NIV)

In Chapter 1 (“A Failure to Love”) of Good and Beautiful and Kind, Rich Villodas asserts that sin, at its core, is failure to love.  Hence, Saint Augustine referred to humanity as incurvatus in se, curved in on itself.  So, even if our physical eyes gaze upward, our spiritual vision tends to curve in upon itself.  And often this self-focus stunts us.  As a result, we cut out love.

However, Pastor Villodas observes, not many people associate sin with a lack of love.  Yet, he stresses, to seek to live the way of Jesus requires that we understand sin in the light of love.  Focus our lens.

Therefore, Rich reasons, in some way sin must be a rejection of Christ’s command to love.  Above all, the author states, that’s what makes sin so pernicious.  Because sin curves us in on ourselves, it uproots love, goodness, beauty, and kindness.

In conclusion, Pastor Villodas underscores, to classify sin as a failure to love doesn’t sentimentalize or soften it.  Rather, it frames the very essence of our lives with God and with one another.  Just as Jesus did.

So, love = the fulfillment of faith.  Consequently, sin serves as the antithesis of faith.  Sin is more than a violation of the law, for it disrupts love.

Today’s question: Where do you see evidence of people abandoning the language of sin?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “A robust theology of sin”

About the author

Dave Henning

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