Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about sin. One of the big lies passed around the Church is that sin is no fun. On the contrary, sin can be a blast. Unless you’ve committed an act of fornication, gotten really stoned or drunk, or beaten the snot out of someone just for kicks, you just don’t know what I mean. Sin offers a type of transcendence to this life, a rush of exhilaration and pleasure.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d also like to say that sin can kill not only your body but your soul. Once the pleasure wears off, there is the relentless quest for more and more sin to satisfy that urge, but the urge is never satisfied. Sinners are horribly discontent, and that discontentment makes us sin all the more.
By its very nature, discontentment is contrary to real faith, and all sin, at its core, is a violation of love. Murder, theft, and adultery are all born out of a desire for something other than what we have, and the damage from that discontentment often goes beyond the initial person we offend. Sin has a ripple effect, hurting a person’s family, friends, and even the community at large. Even worse, all of it offends God personally. Sin and love do not mix.
As I get older, sin has less and less attraction for me because it destroys my ability to love God, and only this experience of love lets us build a life worth living. While I did spare them the sordid details, I let my children know that my earlier years were steeped in transgression. I tried to impart to them that they could be “better than Daddy” because I spent twenty years messing up my life, and God had to straighten me out before he could do very much with me.
When my daughter Janie was about seven, I asked her if she understood what I meant by all that, and she explained back to me that sin was like putting knots in your shoe laces. You have to work hard just to get them unlaced. Then you have to put them on and lace them up again before you can even go anywhere. I thought that was a pretty profound little spiritual metaphor, and I suspect she possessed more spiritual insight back then than I did when I was three times her age.