Thursday, May 13, 2010

Taking sin seriously

The divine word does not impose constraints, make demands, and level requirements. Rather it simply frees. The Gospel forbids nothing, it merely liberates us for lives of true fullness.

Of course to many this will seem woefully inadequate. Is this not simply a cover for moral libertinism? Does not all this fanciful talk of “opened opportunities” merely mask a maneuver that seeks to use “freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence” (Gal 5:13)?

Actually, no not all. In fact this resurrection-centered understanding of the nature of the Gospel’s morality is the only way I can possibly imagine to take sin seriously. This notion insists that all sin is never a matter of some “thing” I can do that I ought not to do. Rather sin is always and everywhere a falling into slavery. The Gospel does not, therefore “forbid” us to sin — what real sense would it make to say that we are “forbidden” to enslave ourselves, mutilate ourselves, denigrate ourselves? — rather the Gospel frees us from sin.

The problem with the traditionally “serious” way of talking about sin and ethics is that it ends up simultaneously not taking sin seriously and making it far too interesting. If we view sin simply as bad, but nearly always seductive and at least fleetingly pleasurable things we ought not to do, we at once make sin interesting and rather un-serious. If however we take the logic of the Gospel seriously we must understand sin always and only as slavery, as domination, denigration, and futility. We are not “forbidden” to be enslaved, we are freed from our slavery. We are not “commanded” to no longer dominate and denigrate ourselves and one another, we are freed from that infantile and dreadful compulsion.

This, it seems to me is the only way to really take sin seriously and to recognize how uninteresting it is. Sin is simply the slaveries we subject ourselves and one anther to. It is a world of striving, suffering, and death. God doesn’t come to us with commands not to do such things, God in Christ breaks the power of these forces and frees us from them. The Gospel closes down no true opportunity for anything interesting, rather it always on only opens opportunities and creates new possibilities. It is always and only a liberation. Nothing more, nothing less. Anything else simply doesn’t take sin seriously.

--Halden Doerge
Source: here

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