Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fifty Shades of Gray: The Sin Rationale

Lately, I keep hearing about this book series Fifty Shades of… whatever. There are three titles in the “Fifty” series.

I know there has been some controversy over the content. I’ve heard that it’s everything from “adult in nature” to outright “softcore porn” (is there really such a thing?). Regardless, I get the idea that it’s quite graphic and quite mature in nature and it’s definitely not appropriate reading for minors, in particular.

Well…for any of us, for that matter.

But despite the hoopla, the books are soaring in popularity. There are a LOT of people buying these books. Like, millions. And that’s a whole different blog entry…:)

In light of all this, it makes me wonder…where is the line? Not just in the material we read, but beyond that. Where is the line for our lives? For our desires? For our intent? Do we exist in our own fifty shades of gray?

Where is the line between a sin and a “not sin”? Or in our culture, today, IS there even a line at all? Or is it more of a zone? Our own “gray zone”. An area that fades evenly and gradually from the total blackness of sin to the complete white of holiness.

And if so, is God OK with that?

Well, let’s just get right to that last one. How does God feel about the “sin rationale”? About “relative sin”…sin that varies in severity depending on the circumstance?

Sorry to be harsh, but the truth is, sin, from God’s POV, is an absolute. It either is or it isn’t. There is no in-between. Something is either a sin or it isn’t.

But sin doesn’t want to be limited by that. Sin wants to have room to breathe and evolve. And we (people in general) are cool with that, because when we sin, we like to have a little room to try to justify it.

No? Look at Adam and Eve.

There they are. Garden of Eden. God says don’t touch this tree. They do it anyway. Bam. Major turning in the story. Now…at this point, we can define Adam and Eve’s actions as “a sin”. Wouldn’t you say? They disobeyed God, right? But what happens next is indicative of our nature as a sinful people. We can sum it up in one word. “But”.

“But God, the woman did it.”

“But God, we were hungry.”

“But God, You made the tree.” (Careful, now.)

“But God. But God. But God…”

The sin rationale is something we struggle with, daily. We live under the curse of wanting to explain our sins. To justify them. We think we have just cause for our actions. Reasons for our behavior. We have our own fifty shades of gray that say “But God, this is why I did it. Doesn’t that matter? Doesn’t that change things?”

So what is God’s perspective on shades of gray and the sin rationale?

Well, throughout the Bible, we see that God (or Jesus) is very clear about His intent and purpose. He is very defined in His vision. You never read about God saying to Moses “I know I told you I’d lead you, but there was this thing, at this place, with a guy…” He never needs to explain why He didn’t do something He previously said He would do. You never read of Him having to justify changing his mind.

For me, the most telling passage of scripture comes in The Revelation (Rev 3:15-16), when Jesus says to the church at Laodicea, “I know your deeds, and you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But because you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth.”


God doesn’t deal in lukewarm, does He? Or shades of gray, fifty or otherwise.

So in closing, my question comes, “So now what?”

If the sin rationale is in our nature, and if that’s the nature of Sin, and if Satan realizes this and knows how to use it against us…how can we possibly defeat it? How can we resist the urge to deal in shades of gray? Are we doomed to fail?

Yes. We are. In and of ourselves, at least.

But thank God, in His infinite wisdom, He gave us the Holy Spirit who can work in and through us to break the curse of the sin rationale and move beyond the illusion of sin that is gray. In the infinitely complex world of shades of gray, we spend all of our time looking for the right shade for the right moment for the right reason. Make it easy on yourself…

Life is so much more colorful, in black and white.


PRAYER: Lord, I realize that I’ve been dealing in shades of gray when it comes to not only my sin, but in my relationship with You. Help me. Take away the gray. Bring me, through the power of Your Holy Spirit, into a life where You are my God, absolutely, no in-between, no rationales, no shades of gray. Amen.

SCRIPTURES: Revelation 3:15-16, Matthew 5:37, James 5:12, James 1:17

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