Whatever Became of Sin?

by Tom Wacaster

Karl Menninger published a book by the same title, which I have borrowed for this week’s article. Having focused his reader’s attention on the rather obvious decline in western civilization and the deplorable condition in which we now find ourselves, he opens the third chapter of that book with these pointed comments:

In all the laments and reproaches made by our seers and prophets, one misses any mention of “sin,” a word which used to be a veritable watchword of the prophets. It was a word once in everyone’s mind, but now rarely if ever heard. Does that mean that no sin is involved in all our troubles—sin with an “I” in the middle? Is no one any longer guilty of anything? Guilty perhaps of a sin that could be repented and repaired or atoned for? Is it only that someone may be stupid or sick or criminal—or asleep? Wrong things are being done, we know; tares are being sown in the wheat field at night. But is no one responsible, no one answerable for these acts? Anxiety and depression we all acknowledge, and even vague guilt feelings; but has no one committed sins? Where, indeed, did sin go? What became of it? (Menninger, 13).

The problem with much of our sin-sick society is the fact that they just don’t give any thought to that three-letter word S-I-N. If anyone tries to address sin in our society and define and describe it for what it is, he is quickly labeled judgmental and unloving. How long has it been since you heard any of our national leaders speak of the sin problem we have in our country? Did you know that in the early 50’s the Congress voted to require the President to proclaim one day a year to be recognized as a day of prayer? Truman began it in 1952, and the following year President Eisenhower borrowed some of the words from Abraham Lincoln for his first proclamation. Here is what Eisenhower said: “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon” (emphasis mine, TW). Interestingly neither President Eisenhower, nor any President since that time, has ever used the same words or anything akin to them. According to an article in Theology Today (October 1972), such words were “not compatible with the Commander-In-Chief’s vision of a proud and confident people.” I guess that means as a nation we quit sinning more than a half century ago!?! Quite the contrary. Under the guise of social freedom we have extended our rights as a nation to embrace deviant behavior and the slaughter of innocent babes in the womb while ignoring any possibility that what we are doing is displeasing to the God of heaven.

This is an age of license.  Morally, we are losing the battle to the humanists.  Some schools and neighborhoods are already out of control.  Because we live in a “free land,” some have taken that to mean we are free to do whatever we desire – no limits, and no holds barred. But are we not reaping the harvest of seeds planted decades, if not centuries ago? God has provided the avenue to freedom in Christ. But rather than respect the limits of that freedom, we have taken it upon ourselves to worship and serve God as we see fit. Do you doubt that? Then ask someone, anyone, why they attend a particular religious sect, and listen carefully to the answer. “Well, I like the people.” “I like the preacher.” “The music is uplifting.” “The location is convenient.” Seldom (if ever) will you hear someone say, “I like that congregation because God has authorized all that is said and done among these people.” If you ask someone why they like all the rigmarole in church music, with guitars, drums, and percussion instruments, more often than not you will hear these four words: “Because I like it.” The restraints in worship set forth in God’s word have largely been ignored, from Catholicism right up through and including Protestantism. Our liberty has been redefined to mean we can do anything that God does not strictly forbid in His word. Were we to use the same sort of thinking in matters earthly, you could drive any speed you desired simply because there is no sign posted that says, “thou shalt not drive 90 or 100.” And once we took the liberties in matters pertaining to worship, it was, and is, an easy step to take the same kind of liberties regarding God’s moral laws. We have turned liberty into license. With the so-called legalization of homosexual marriages, the bar has been lifted one more notch and exactly how far man will now go with this newfound “right” is anybody’s guess.

I suppose every age has its advancements in technology, communication, transportation and science, but perhaps there has never been a generation that has witnessed as many changes as has ours (unless it be the industrial revolution). I can still remember when a computer was something you saw on television on some science fiction show, and a “window” was what mom had us clean every Spring so as to allow more summer sun into our homes.  A “ram” was the cousin of a goat, “meg” was the little girl who lived down the street, and an “application” was something you filled out when you applied for a new job. Some words have taken on entirely different meanings than they had when I was growing up. For example, a “program” was a TV show, a “cursor” was someone who used profanity, and “memory” was something that you lost with age, not space on a computer. With the modern age has come at least two inventions that have dramatically impacted our communication capabilities. One of these is the television, the other the computer. The new “digital” television is becoming increasingly popular, with pictures so sharp it has been billed as the biggest change in viewing quality since we moved from black and white to color.

The irony of it all is the undeniable truth that while we are making gigantic strides in accessing knowledge, we are losing ground when it comes to the quality of material that we are able to access. As the late Paul Harvey once said, “TV turns the sky into a sewer.” A recent study has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the entertainment industry in general, and the television industry in specific is an “influence” rather than a “mirror” of society. According to that survey conducted by Public Opinion magazine, 65% of television’s creative community admitted that TV was a major influence on social behavior. Of the “cream of the crop” among television’s “most experienced and respected members,” 93% said they seldom ever, or never, attended religious services. The devil got his claws into the television industry some four decades ago and has not let go yet, nor does it look like he will do so anytime in the near future.

And now comes our modern age of personal computers, and our unlimited and unrestricted access to the “superhighway.” So far it is “no holds barred,” and while we argue with ourselves over what constitutes censorship, or how to define pornography, young and innocent minds are being overwhelmed by the evil side of that promising means of communication. Some years ago, I had an occasion to visit with a sister in Christ who was then facing the sunset years of her life. Preceded in death by her husband of more than 60 years, Mary would soon depart this life to be with her Lord. As we visited and reflected upon the years of wisdom and experience now behind her, she commented, “Tom, you would not believe the changes I have seen in my lifetime, and most of them are not for the good.” Yes, sister Casey, I would believe the changes. I have seen enough in my lifetime to make me hang my head and blush at the sins of our beloved America. At times it almost seems to overwhelm me. It would be easy to become discouraged at it all. And then I think:  The only thing that has really changed is man’s capacity and not his propensity to sin. Modern technology simply provides the avenues by which sinful man can exercise his evil desires. There may be more opportunities for sin, but as Solomon reminded us, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *