Saturday, November 9, 2013

Your Sin is [No] Greater Than My Sin

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5
Guilty. I completely left out the verse on "the measure by which you judge is the measure by which you shall be judged" bit. It isn't that I don't think it is important. Quite frankly, it could have lent itself very well to what I am about to write. My trouble is that in the current climate I truly believe people misunderstand the connotation of judgment here and we end up with our "I'm okay, you're okay" argument. Really, it's more like "Ouch! There's a log in my eye! Oh crap, there's a splinter in yours!" 

That's the trouble though, isn't it? We end up so often on one of two extremes. Either anything goes and to judge someone's actions makes you a meanie-pants hater, or you really are a meanie-pants hater who is a hypocrite in pointing out everyone else's sins and ignoring your own. Yes, I know. You can tell I am surrounded by toddlers with such erudite language as "meanie-pants hater." 

The fact of Christian life is this: our sin does not define us. As soon-to-be St. John Paul II reminded us in Toronto at World Youth Day in 2002, "We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son."

So, why in the world do we allow perceived failure or weakness to define others? I know. I get it. Some vocal segments out there are telling us sin is not sin. Do you think you know which segment I'm referring to here? Good for you. I don't, because there are so many of them. The trouble in making assumptions here is that there are just as many loudmouths talking about why abortion is okay, why same-sex marriage is okay, why greed is okay, why xenophobia is okay, why the death penalty in this day and age is okay, why a multitude of other things are okay (or not okay). In our fallen nature, aren't we all engaged with the devil in a bit of the deception game in trying to justify our sin so it no longer becomes sin? 

That's why when the whole marriage equality business began I wrote Love Must Come First. We are not defined by our sin. We are not the sum of our actions or our beliefs. We are people, with souls, created in the image and likeness of God. We are fallen. All of us are fallen. I've said this before - it is utterly unfair that the world is engaged in a heated debate about an issue that puts the spotlight on someone else's sinful nature based on an attribute that is simply more publicly seen. My sinful nature goes unnoticed in some ways because the world is not in a debate about it. Utterly unfair. 

I understand that as a people of faith we must put forth the Gospel and the moral teachings. I understand that it is natural to have to react to what we are being presented with at the current moment. This is why I have said so often that we must stop reacting to the world around us and begin to be proactive about our message of hope and salvation. It is our message, not in response to the world around us, not in response to Henny Penny telling us the sky is falling. It is our message handed down to us through the ages from the source of our hope and salvation, Jesus Christ. 

My sin is no less than your sin. If I intentionally choose anger (cough road rage cough), Jesus tells me I have killed (anger = murder, remember?). It's just not as "sexy" as sex. Yes, there are those things that are intrinsically evil. Yes, we have to fight against evil. However, we must learn to love each other in that fight. We must learn to call out what is good, what of the imprint of God exists and encourage that. Who wants to listen to us after we have told them they are evil, or their choices are evil, especially in a world that more rapidly doesn't even acknowledge the existence of evil? 

We have to be transparent about our own struggles if we are ever to walk with someone else who is suffering. We have to acknowledge that we're not really on the narrow road ourselves if we want to help someone else back to the right road with us. We are all sinners. Every last one of us. We have to stop comparing our sins and somehow always coming up shorter in that department than everyone else (or thinking we are too sinful for God's grace, but we can save that for another day). We each have hard struggles in our lives, or we aren't really doing it right. No one on the way to meet Jesus at Calvary is without a cross. No one. 

Why all this ranting, you ask? Well, I wanted to share a video from a lesbian about coming out and some of her realizations that I think provoke a lot of thought. I hesitated to share this because I knew it would offend some people. I decided to share it anyway because I think we have a lot to learn from one another, and what I loved about the video was that the ultimate lesson here was to begin to see each other as people and not arguments. 

I have many close friends, some whom happen to be gay (they are not my "gay friends"). Much like my friends who are not gay, some abide by Church teachings on chastity, some do not, and some, well, some may not even believe in God. Regardless, while we clearly disagree on some matters of politics, philosophy and morals, my life is enriched by each of them, and I have no doubt that our Lord loves them very much, some days maybe even more than He loves me. So, while I assure you that I believe all the Church has to teach on faith and morals, I also assure you that I remain steadfast in my belief, much like St. Paul, that love must come first. We have to start seeing each other as struggling souls worthy of redemption, regardless of our struggle.

I invite you to watch the video below shedding any discomfort you may have with the initial topic. I think you will find that despite its potential to be controversial, she shares some very deep insights about the nature of life before heaven.

I would love to read your thoughts on the matter. As always, please keep comments respectful or they will not be published. Grazie!

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