I apologize to everyone for not writing anything recently. After Holy Week and Easter my wife and I went on vacation for a week and now I’m preparing to go on a Via de Cristo retreat weekend for men. Next week will be normal–maybe. BTW, just what is normal?
Anyway, when we were on vacation we visited a church in Myrtle Beach where we were blessed with the pure proclamation of the Gospel and the rightly administered Sacrament. The pastor of this congregation had an interesting message and I took several ideas away and have pondered them since then. I’m going to share one of them with you now.
Have you ever wondered why it seems so easy to sin? Certainly sin is what we are all best at–it is part of our nature, built into the genes if you will. St. Paul, in the Epistle to the Romans (and to us) notes that sin is in reality a power–a power that brings us so very often into the place where we do not do what we want, but what we do not what–that very thing is what we do. As has been said many times, we are all sinners.
But those of us who are Christians ought to be able to avoid sinning, at least a little bit. Or at least it seems we should. After all, are we not indwelt with the Holy Spirit and do we not now love the Law, which before served only to condemn us? But still we fall over and over again.
Well, part of the reason is because we so very much like to get really close to the sins that tempt us. We like to get just up to the line, far enough to feel sins breath on our cheeks, its warmth just over the line. We want to get close, but then back off. It’s kind of game for us. Certainly one example of that would be a man who likes to look at provocative pictures of pretty girls–maybe in the Sports Illustrated “swimwear” edition. But that man might find that looking a picture of a nearly naked girl is just enough enticement to get him to start looking at porn on the internet.
In the interest of gender inclusiveness, let’s look at what some women might do. There was a book out a few years ago, and then a movie called 50 Shades of Gray. And before that there was the popular TV series Sex and the City. Both of these were written for women to “enjoy” vicarious adultery, just as most pornography is created so men can be adulterous.
We like to go right up to the line, but when we get there what we far too often find is that the line isn’t real. There’s nothing separating us from the sin that entices us–whether it’s sex or money or gossip or gluttony or whatever is the bauble you want to hold–just for a moment.
If we are going to resist sin, we must resist going to the line. We must avoid the situations and the places where we can be enticed to sin. Those are going to vary from person to person, but the line is often the real danger. Maybe Johnny Cash walked the line–but you and I need to avoid it as much as possible.