Two Kinds of Sin


There are several different articles out there about sin. What sins are unforgivable and which ones are more severe than others. I am not addressing those types of comparison here. I am talking about sins defined by God and sins defined by society.

Society is constantly changing. What a society considers morally acceptable changes as the views of the society changes. We know this happens. The conflict comes when Christians hold that God doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So if God doesn’t change, what He considers acceptable doesn’t change either. That is where the conflict comes into place.

Polygamy was acceptable in the Old Testament. It was not God’s design, but it was allowed. Today, western society holds that it is wrong and even illegal in many parts. Now we have a conflict on what is wrong and what isn’t. Same thing can be said on the age of those being married. The women that were married in the Old Testament and probably New Testament, where maidens. They were virgins who had basically hit puberty. In theory, the women were being married as early as 14 years of age. Now since we all know evolution occurs, I am not sure if puberty starts at the same age now as it did then, but regardless, the women were significantly younger than the men. Today, that is illegal. There is a stigma attached as the person is convicted of being a sexual offender and child molester. This wasn’t always the case though. Jerry Lee Lewis married his first wife when she was under age, so why it was frowned upon then, it was not illegal. Homosexuality is a huge area of controversy. Society says it is ok, but that hasn’t always been the case. The Bible says it is sinful in certain areas, but there is a lot of study in the Bible for this topic as people look for ways to justify that it is acceptable. Society has no standard or certainty for what it considers right or wrong.

The problem I see is that people have a tendency to view sin by what is and is not acceptable based on the society they live in. I get caught up with this at times as well. The question is, if God is real and will judge mankind, then what standard will He base His judgments on? The sins in the Bible or the sins according to society?

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10 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christianity, Religion

10 responses to “Two Kinds of Sin

  1. internet elias

    Whoa!!! Good post. Timely. The questions you put forth…hit the church and individual Christian right between the eyes. And I propose that since God does not change…since His Word does not change…since good and evil does not change….that sin IS as it has always been…all things which serve and honor the flesh…rather than yielding the body to God as a Temple in which His Spirit dwells…and…loves…and serves…without limit.

    Again, good post. I am seeing the ‘raging’ spiritual warfare more each day. Only God saves. The battle is, indeed, the Lord’s. If we do not have that which is ‘greater’..within….all that remains is defeat by ‘he that is in the world.’ Christianity IS SERIOUS..SERIOUS…SERIOUS BUSINESS. SIN IS ‘DEADLY’ SERIOUS!!!

    Again, good post. Thanks.

    Carolyn
    (internetelias.wordpress.com)

    • Thank you Carolyn.

      I think we have a tendency to want to fit into the flow of society, but there are times when we have to stand when society’s acceptance conflicts with God’s Word. We see the theme with Israel to be among the people but not accept all that they do. The same holds true today. We are to be in the world but not embrace all that the world does.

  2. societyvs

    I think the problem is the way we read the bible, and not so much the bible or God as the problem at all.

    The bible, since about the Reformation, has carried a new tradition forward that seemed to catch much fire in the 1800’s and 1900’s in the America’s – this literalism angle we see espoused in many churches (meaning there is only one way to read the passage). I think this is seriously flawed on a few accounts:

    (a) there is no proof this was the way the bible was interpreted prior Christian writings – in fact if you check up the PARDES system of interpretaion – we will find there is more than one way to read scripture (4 in this case). This system is a lot older than the Reformation and find it’s roots in pre-Jesus times.

    (b) The bible, or the Torah – the actual foundation for all the other texts of the bible – is law of a society. No although the words themselves cannot change, laws do. Is this to say God was wrong for giving the law that was changed later? No. Humans do not fully know God nor have they ever, we gets glimpses and pieces, and spiritual accesibility…but all that is limited by being a human. We change, the laws change, but God may be further down the road anyways…and only fed us what we could handle and when.

    In fact, as a Christian you would have to agree with this premise since your faith hinges on the idea of ‘change’. I think even Paul mentions ideas like this about the ‘fullness of times’ and the addition in of the Gentiles (huge shift from origial Judaism) – usually centered around the idea of ‘time/eras’. Apparently, the word of God ‘changed’ for the addition of the Gentiles and Christianity. Maybe we just don’t fully know God and it ain’t Him changing, it’s us needing to catch up.

    The problem is we want a constant, a version of what God is, always will be, and that never changes. The problem is, are you basing this idea on one scripture? And even if that is true, how can you not be sure inspired humans wrote for what they knew for their time period alone?

    I do believe there are some constants, but they are also up for review on how they are worked out in our society…we must use the spirit and the intent and sometimes not the literal to make it work in the 21st Century. Morally, I think we are on safe ground with the biblical ideas, again, we must take from texts that are 2000 or 3000 years old and modernize the ideas mentioned.

    I’ll mention slavery, well it was okay in a certain period of time (fact)…and for many and many eons. However, we are finding this is not the ideal human condition and biblically, no one is actually born a ‘slave’ (based on Adam and Eve). Does God want slaves? I don’t think so and I can see how an idea like this can change and why it needs to. However some could say basic work is a version of ‘slavery’ (even based in Adam).

    Polygamy, was allowed in biblical times…but it was never a mandated piece of the law (fact). People practiced it, absolutely, but you may be overstating the case for it’s ‘use’ biblically. Some people had more than one wife, some had many. Either way, it’s not blatantly supported anywhere (unlike slavery).

    The age of marriage was probably young, again, this is not a mandated law but is discretionary…does not need to even be followed. We see it as wrong because it seems wrong to marry someone at such a young age – and I am glad it is criminalized. I think the biblical intent would be to marry a woman, now the age thing is one for debate still.

    Homosexuality was never a sin. In fact, homosexuality is not even a word in the bible and never has been (until the 19th century). So the issue of homosexuality in the bible is much more complex than one would like to imagine (and we both know Christians have very little imagination). However, whenever we do see this, the problem is always surrounding other issues like idolatry or pedastry. The way the words we see as ‘homosexuality’ in the bible may be actually be interpreted quite differently some 1000’s of years ago.

    A sin is a sin…biblical or by societal standards. I think we need start modernizing this bible before we find it is useless in speaking to a 21st century audience.

    • The laws in the Torah didn’t change.

      I will agree that the Bible is multifaceted and there are several layers of meanings contained in it, but one layer can not counter another. There can be no conflicts in scripture or it invalidates itself as the Word of God. Either the Bible is the Word of God or it isn’t. You don’t get it is inspired by God but is open to review because people might have made mistakes. If that is the case, Islam or Hindu are just as valid as Christianity.

      In the Bible, you see God working within societies, but there is always a strict edict not to embrace all that a society practices. This has always been the case. Slavery is a good example of something that was less than ideal but did not conflict with the commandments of God. While being in bondage to someone is not what God wants for people, we are told how to behave when we are. In anything we do, even if it is not the ideal situation, we are instructed how to behave in order to glorify God.

      While the word is new, the concept of homosexuality is not. Leviticus 18 and 20 both prohibit following the customs of the land which includes sex between two men. Idolatry is the common theme every time it is mentioned, but that is still present today. We can’t get stuck on the thought of idolatry as being worshipping another god. It is worshipping anything besides God. People are worshipping the relationship that God created and not worshipping God through the relationship. It is idolatry. Paul specifically says in Romans 1 that sex between two women or between two men is unnatural but it is a part of society there. People were trying to duplicate what God had established between man and woman. They were focused on the relationship and not on God.

      We are called to be part of society to that point that it doesn’t conflict with what God has commanded. This is a common theme in the Old Testament. Daniel was tossed into the lion’s den because he refused to conform. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were going to be burned alive for refusing to worship the golden image. They didn’t tell other people that they couldn’t worship, but they refused to conform and go against what God had commanded. That is still in place today. God’s commandments will not always align with what society practices. At this time, you have to choose one side or the other. You either sin against God or you sin against society. You can not please both.

  3. “There can be no conflicts in scripture or it invalidates itself as the Word of God” (Xander)

    That’s true idealism, however it does fail. For example, Hebrews has a passage from the Psalms that has words changed in it (which is an outright conflict). James and Paul both teach on the same subject (faith) and come to differing conclusions (likely for different communitites). It can still be the word of God, regardless of human mistake or perception.

    “In anything we do, even if it is not the ideal situation, we are instructed how to behave in order to glorify God.” (Xander)

    I agree, this is my same sentiment about the use of slavery in the bible. However, there is another angle that can also be read into that situation – challenging the authority of such a practice (and within faith systems as well).

    “They were focused on the relationship and not on God.” (Xander)

    That same reasoning can be used about marriage ad nauseum though. Isn’t marrying someone and devoting your life to them (which is what that committment partly is) also taking away from God’s time? In fact, Paul even says it may be better to not be married – on this same topic. So, everyone in a relationship (gay and straight) are focused on their relationship…is that idolatry? I don’t think so.

    The problem you fail to see is how sex was used as part of religious customs of other lands and in the Roman era. I mean, people literally participated in orgies thinking they could reach some level of ecstasy that brought them closer to God. It’s strange thinking in out times, but this was definitely part of the worship in certain Roman religions. It’s not hard to fathom Leviticus being in the same boat.

    I know the bible calls us out of society, a seperate people unto God – I agree. In the case of homosexuality what exactly are we being called out from? I don’t have inclinations to be gay whatsoever. Whereas with subjects like adultery, murder, theft, oppression, etc…I can see my ‘choice’.

    On top of that, as for being ‘seperate’ people unto God, this is comical facade. I cannot think of one Christian denomination that actually does not function under the rule of law of the country as much as under the religious ethics. It seems the religious ethics are an addendum to the laws of the land (if one looks closely). Nationalism is rampant in churches, along with politicization. What exactly are churches ‘to be seperate’ from exactly?

    “God’s commandments will not always align with what society practices. At this time, you have to choose one side or the other. You either sin against God or you sin against society. You can not please both” (Xander)

    I like the idea but you got a serious conundrum to deal with. From one side of the mouth you are talking about accepting the practices of the land (ie: slavery) and and from the other side standing against them (ie: homosexuality). There is likely some delicate balance in your mind there but what message is more important, going against society’s standards we disagree with or following the law?

    I, in essence, agree with you – some things society does we need to stand opposed to. However, I know we will disagree on what issues those are. I would stand for the total inclusion of gay individuals into our churches and mainstream society. I would stand opposed to Capitalism practices and participating in wars. So the line of what is and isn’t important for us Christians to participate in and not to participate in is not crystal clear…can you see that?

  4. “That’s true idealism, however it does fail. For example, Hebrews has a passage from the Psalms that has words changed in it (which is an outright conflict). James and Paul both teach on the same subject (faith) and come to differing conclusions (likely for different communitites). It can still be the word of God, regardless of human mistake or perception.” (societyvs)

    I would have to see the verse, so I wont respond to that part, but Paul and James were not in conflict. Faith is the basis of salvation alone. James was making the case that if you had truly given your life to God, then you would be living your life for God. Your actions would reflect the faith that you had.

    “That same reasoning can be used about marriage ad nauseum though. Isn’t marrying someone and devoting your life to them (which is what that committment partly is) also taking away from God’s time? In fact, Paul even says it may be better to not be married – on this same topic. So, everyone in a relationship (gay and straight) are focused on their relationship…is that idolatry? I don’t think so.” (societyvs)

    I don’t think it is idolatry, but it is discouraged. The higher calling was to remain celibate with 100% of your focus dedicated to God. For people who needed the human relationship, God is supposed to be a part of that relationship. God is supposed to be in every area of your life.

    “The problem you fail to see is how sex was used as part of religious customs of other lands and in the Roman era. I mean, people literally participated in orgies thinking they could reach some level of ecstasy that brought them closer to God. It’s strange thinking in out times, but this was definitely part of the worship in certain Roman religions. It’s not hard to fathom Leviticus being in the same boat.” (societyvs)

    The end of Leviticus 18 talks about how all people, not just Israel would be judged for the act of same sex relations, along with the rest that was mentioned in the chapter. Not man on man sex because of a religious practice, but the act itself. It was customarily acceptable in Egypt and Canaan for men to have sex with men. It is no different than it is today. You can honestly say that back then, it was only done for a religious practice?

    “I like the idea but you got a serious conundrum to deal with. From one side of the mouth you are talking about accepting the practices of the land (ie: slavery) and and from the other side standing against them (ie: homosexuality). There is likely some delicate balance in your mind there but what message is more important, going against society’s standards we disagree with or following the law?” (societyvs)

    What is more important is following God and what He commands. If it is in agreement with society, then great. If it isn’t, then you face persecution for disagreeing with society. Society tells me that homosexuality is natural and normal, but I disagree. Society by its conduct says that it is ok for children under the age of 14 to have sex, but I disagree. I don’t agree with divorce based on not being happy, but society feels like it is acceptable. I don’t agree with slavery, but the Bible told us how to own slaves if we felt inclined to follow society and the treatment of those slaves. It raised the bar from what society held as acceptable. Where society conflicts with God, we choose God. When they are in agreement, God raises the standard in which we are to act.

  5. “I would have to see the verse…” (Xander)

    Psalms 40:6 “Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.”

    Heb 10:5-6 “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE”

    Exact same passage – but for some odd and unknown reason the writer of Hebrews changes the 2nd line of that Psalm 40:6 passage (from ears to body – and from opened to prepared). Now if you cannot see that as an obvious change of a passage, which it plainly is, I am not sure you will notice one when it is presented.

    “James was making the case that if you had truly given your life to God, then you would be living your life for God” (Xander)

    I think it’s fairly obvious they were in disagreement. From the background of Acts 15 and Galatians 2 – we see Paul at odds with the Jerusalem Council (which includes James). Then in many of his letters he rips on the people that promote a gospel that hybrids Judaism conversion with Gentile conversion (ie: circumcision). It’s fair to say Paul had his problems with the Jerusalem Council that was substantiantly close with Judaism. That’s the background.

    Paul and James use the exact same scripture – and arrive at different outcomes.

    “and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:23-24)

    James is pretty straightforward – via the Abraham example – man is justified by works (and pay close attention to the wording) ‘and not by faith alone’.

    “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:2-5)

    Paul mentions outright works has nothing to do with the equation (lest someone should boast). With Paul ‘faith {alone} is credited as righteousness’.

    That’s the same passage and idea being used, but two different outcomes according to 2 different authors. Sure we can reconcile them and make them read like they are addendums to one another, but they are in different letters to different regions and it is possible James is trying to cover for Paul’s lacking on this teaching.

  6. “You can honestly say that back then, it was only done for a religious practice?” (Xander)

    I cannot (in all honesty). I can say it was likely ‘misunderstood’.

    But I have to work with what we have in the modern 21st century. Judaism is no longer ‘condemning’ this action on the basis that the law cannot be kept by certain individuals because of their sexual oreintation (by creation). It is in unfair to have a law that condemns people for something they had no ‘choice’ in.

    I have to wonder if God is as ‘fair’? Sure Leviticus says these things, but to be honest, it had no clue what modern homosexuality is (the word did not exist then) – so what exactly they mean is ambigious (to some degree). Reason I know that is true is because women (lesbians) are exempt from each prohibition on intercourse between the sexes (fact). Now that’s not exactly a fair representation about homosexuality as we know it in the 21 st Century. But has God created these people ‘gay’?

    “Society tells me that homosexuality is natural and normal, but I disagree.”

    That’s true you do, because God hates sin correct? And being gay is a sin, they just shouldn’t have been born that way.

    “Society by its conduct says that it is ok for children under the age of 14 to have sex, but I disagree” (Xander)

    By conduct, maybe…by law, no.

    “I don’t agree with slavery, but the Bible told us how to own slaves if we felt inclined to follow society and the treatment of those slaves” (Xander)

    Really? You back the bible on this code no matter what? Some things don’t fall away and wither with time – like humans being equal to ‘property’? I personally am sickened to my stomach that you would support slavery – which is only the case if you ARE the slave owner…never thought you and your family might be the slaves did you? I will take the stand slavery is wrong, has always been wrong, and I’ll base that solely on the Exodus event (prior to the giving of the law).

    “Where society conflicts with God, we choose God. When they are in agreement, God raises the standard in which we are to act” (Xander)

    I agree, but this is not the Christianity I see around me – is this the Christianity you see around you? I see a Christianity fighting to keep status quo and basically always has. When slavery was to end, they wanted it kept. When segregation was to end, they wanted it kept. When unjust wars happened, they supported the country regardless. Basically when time change Christianity is one of the only organizations stuck in the mud.

  7. Xander

    “Now if you cannot see that as an obvious change of a passage, which it plainly is, I am not sure you will notice one when it is presented.” (soceityvs)

    They are different. Here is what Scofield says about it:

    “The rule, applicable to all modifications of the modifications of the form of quotations in the New Testament from the Old Testament writings, is that the divine Author of both Testaments is perfectly free, in using an earlier statement, to recast the mere literary form of it. The variant form will be found invariably to give the deeper meaning of the earlier statement. ”

    “”I think it’s fairly obvious they were in disagreement. From the background of Acts 15 and Galatians 2 – we see Paul at odds with the Jerusalem Council (which includes James). Then in many of his letters he rips on the people that promote a gospel that hybrids Judaism conversion with Gentile conversion (ie: circumcision). It’s fair to say Paul had his problems with the Jerusalem Council that was substantiantly close with Judaism. That’s the background.” (soceityvs)

    Actually, James is the one that sided with Paul and wrote the ruling on what Gentiles needed to do. If there was a conflict, it would have been between Peter and Paul.

    “James is pretty straightforward – via the Abraham example – man is justified by works (and pay close attention to the wording) ‘and not by faith alone’.”

    Back up to v 22

    You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”–and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
    (Jas 2:22-24)

    Faith and works are active together, but faith proceeds works. Paul said that works will not save you. You can not do enough good things for salvation, which is what Judaism is based on. Faith in Jesus alone will save you. Your works are derived from that faith.

    “That’s the same passage and idea being used, but two different outcomes according to 2 different authors. Sure we can reconcile them and make them read like they are addendums to one another, but they are in different letters to different regions and it is possible James is trying to cover for Paul’s lacking on this teaching.” (societyvs)

    Abraham had the works of offering up Isaac as a sacrifice. He followed through on His faith knowing that God had promised that the blessings would be fulfilled through Isaac. They are not in disagreement. Paul focused on the fact that Abraham has to first trust God before he could do anything that would be righteous. James was addressing a different audience who were not practicing what they preached, similar to today’s Christians.

    the apostle shows the error of those who rested in a bare profession of the Christian faith, as if that would save them, while the temper of their minds and the tenour of their lives were altogether disagreeable to that holy religion which they professed – Henry

    “I cannot (in all honesty). I can say it was likely ‘misunderstood’.” (soceityvs)

    Egypt was conducting marriages between women at the time of the Exodus. That is why Rabbinic tradition included lesbianism as being wrong. It was not just a religious practice.

    It wasn’t written with 21st century views, so the intent does not easily translate to what is currently acceptable. Since it is acceptable now as it was then, I think the unmodified intent, which was written, is correct.
    But I have to work with what we have in the modern 21st century. Judaism is no longer ‘condemning’ this action on the basis that the law cannot be kept by certain individuals because of their sexual oreintation (by creation). It is in unfair to have a law that condemns people for something they had no ‘choice’ in.

    “I have to wonder if God is as ‘fair’? Sure Leviticus says these things, but to be honest, it had no clue what modern homosexuality is (the word did not exist then) – so what exactly they mean is ambigious (to some degree). Reason I know that is true is because women (lesbians) are exempt from each prohibition on intercourse between the sexes (fact). Now that’s not exactly a fair representation about homosexuality as we know it in the 21 st Century. But has God created these people ‘gay’?” (soceityvs)

    Actually, lesbianism was considered unnatural as well according to rabbinic tradition.

    “That’s true you do, because God hates sin correct? And being gay is a sin, they just shouldn’t have been born that way.” (soceityvs)

    Because the Bible says it is unnatural. Sin has been paid for, so that isn’t the issue.

    “Really? You back the bible on this code no matter what? Some things don’t fall away and wither with time – like humans being equal to ‘property’? I personally am sickened to my stomach that you would support slavery – which is only the case if you ARE the slave owner…never thought you and your family might be the slaves did you? I will take the stand slavery is wrong, has always been wrong, and I’ll base that solely on the Exodus event (prior to the giving of the law). ” (soceityvs)

    Come on now. I said I do not agree with it. I do not support it nor would I partake of it. But it is still happening in the world today and I don’t see anyone rushing in to those countries talking about how bad it is. And if I was the slave, the Bible tells me how I should act as the slave. The focus is not on what happens to us in this life. That is the point.

  8. “The variant form will be found invariably to give the deeper meaning of the earlier statement” (Scofield)

    Scofield is wrong, even based on the Greek and Hebrew of both passages. The fact the wording is do dramatically changed also means Scofield must not know the difference between 4 simple words (which are all uniquely different – even in English). I think Scofield is using an excuse/bias to spirituality (the divine Author of both Testaments is perfectly free, in using an earlier statement, to recast the mere literary form of it) to prove his argument. That’s just avoiding the facts at hand and cannot be counted as ‘proof’.

    That passage has been changed and there is nothing more clear cut than that.

    “Faith and works are active together, but faith proceeds works.” (Xander)

    I agree, now show me where Paul actually states this and I’ll agree with you 100%. Fact is, James does say it and Paul stops at faith almost all the time.

    “You can not do enough good things for salvation, which is what Judaism is based on. Faith in Jesus alone will save you. Your works are derived from that faith.” (Xander)

    I get it, faith = works, in fact I would say that is 100% accurate. However, isn’t following the teachings also faith? I see them as inter-connected – so closely – you cannot have one without the other. And this more accurately explains Judaism than ‘earning salvation’ does.

    “Actually, lesbianism was considered unnatural as well according to rabbinic tradition” (Xander)

    I actually read a book by a Jewish Conservative rabbi that was gay (Steven Greenberg) on this issue. It seems the earliest sources do not condemn lesbianism – and the scriptures themselves mention nothing about it one iota. This is quite conclusive from Steven Greenberg’s reasearch. The lesbian thing was added in at a much later date than the scriptures – and even then – there was no law against it.

    Problem with the issue is simple, society accepts gay rights and equality and the church resists it. Now the church is the supposed representation of God on this planet. Therefore, the Christians much believe that being gay is a sin and cannot support it. Meaning, the belief is that God did not create them (gay people) this way. However, if this is not the case – then Christianity is the one clearly in the ‘wrong’…cause how can we argue against what God has created? (Should the pot tell the potter to make me different?)

    “But it is still happening in the world today and I don’t see anyone rushing in to those countries talking about how bad it is” (Xander)

    Then you might need to read more about movements to outlaw slavery in 3rd world countries…it is happening. Many people are talking about how bad it is and it’s kid cousin, child labor. Amnesty international must be doing plenty of work in this area…maybe I need to research this more as well?

    Maybe I was a bit over-dramatic, that being said, I have a severe disgust for slavery.

    “The focus is not on what happens to us in this life. That is the point.” (Xander)

    Then why have a bible with so much teaching for this life exactly? Why not have a shortened version that skips all the thing about this life and only have the passages that ultimately matter – those that effect the next life.

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