So…uhm…why’d you decide to read this post? Did the title make you think I’d be blogging about something controversial with a conservative or even liberal point of view? Did you think I was going to talk about something which George Takei (Pronounced Tah-Kay, rhymes with…may…ohhhh myyy) is a proponent of? Now you’re probably wondering then what exact direction I’m heading with this post if it doesn’t have anything to do with…well, that?
Don’t’cha think that there’s something titillating about a reference to Sodom and Gomorrah? All that destruction. All that fire and brimstone falling from the sky? And all because of, what?, something sinful?Oh we like something sinful. We like it when someone else has their sin exposed to the word. And, even though we say we don’t and it’s not true, we rank the sins of this world from very visible and sensational to the little white lies that everybody does. And of course, everyone else’s sin is worse than your own. That’s just how it is.
Even if you don’t know the story from Genesis 18-19, you still know it has something to do with something in the news a lot lately.
In Genesis 18, God says to Abraham that he is going down to Sodom and Gomorrah because of how greatly evil and messed up they were and was going to destroy it. Abraham pleaded with God to turn away his anger if he could find just 50 righteous men. Then Abraham haggled with God to just find 10 righteous men. Only righteous dude to be found was Lot, Abraham’s nephew.
God sends two angels to Sodom and Gomorrah to get Lot out of dodge. All the men came pounding on Lot’s door demanding the angels come out to, well, have sex with (Genesis 19:5). They got pretty violent. Suffice it to say, Lot escaped, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had sulfur from the sky rain down on them and became the epitome of evil through the generations. Throughout the Old Testament, the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah is told in the light of how great sins can be how how not to be like. And people point to these two towns showing how they are not like them at all.
But the story doesn’t stop there.
Abraham’s decedents became the great nation of Israel. Generations passed and they were given instructions on how to live in gratitude for God. They were to be a light to the nations, a priestly nation, ministering to the other peoples in the land. And that wasn’t happening.
In Ezekiel 16, God not only compares how badly Israel has acted to Sodom and Gomorrah, but He says that they’re even worse than they, parading it around unashamedly.
In Amos 4, God describes how the people have gone after other gods, done wrong to other people, and therefore will treat them like Sodom and Gomorrah.
In Isaiah 3, God speaks about how the people are oppressing the poor, oppressing one another, fighting against each other. He says that they are acting just like Sodom and Gomorrah.
In Lamentations 4, the prophet Jeremiah speaks of how the people of Jerusalem were heartless, they were living high up while others were oppressed and therefore God did worse to them than he did to Sodom and Gomorrah.
These are but a few areas in the Old Testament that look at how the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was more than just, well, what happened in Genesis 19:5. There was oppression of the poor, there was heartlessness, there was abandoning God, there was adultery, there was being doing mean.
And so, today, even if we do talk about sin, we like to rank them. Even when we say that all sins are the same before God, we still like to rank them. Sexual sins are the best. They are way up there. Those are the worse. Fudging on your DMV form so not to pay 50 bucks more on registering your car, everybody does that.
We like to list other peoples’ sins, especially if they are famous or in leadership. We whisper about the sins of others. We even discuss, sometimes passionately, if certain things truly are a sin or not. Sometimes we say that we’re not God, why should we condemn someone else of their sin? We point out the great sins of others, but then play down the little sins that we actually have because we’re not really as bad as they are.
For years I’ve always heard the saying “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Recently I heard a twist on that “Love the sinner, hate your own sin.” That’s even better, right? It’s more inclusive. It opens up the way for all us broken people to come together. The thing is, is if we already see other peoples’ sins as worse than our own, then hating our own sin ain’t all that hard because we don’t think we do a bad job to begin with. So it really is a win-win all around.
I’m over 800 words now. How should I end this. I could come with a concluding paragraph betraying my belief, since this really is my blog, right? Not gonna do that. This is now up to you.
I will still say “Love the sinner, hate the sin” because saying “love the sinner, hate your own sin” plays down the importance of it all. It minimizes the fact that in the end, sin is not just a heart condition, but a relationship condition. A broken relationship with God. We need to come to God through Jesus, regardless of how messed up, broken, etc we are. And then, there is wholeness and completeness in God. And then go, live a life of gratitude for God, leaving our old life, and traveling together supporting one another walking with Jesus towards the final destination through the gates of glory.