Parables & Parallels
12/4/12 at 01:16 PM 10 Comments

Trouble in Paradise: The Danger of "Maturing" Sin

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"and sin, when it is full grown, leads to death." James 1:15

Although scripture asserts that the wages of sin “is death,” many people appear to get off scott free. We certainly see much of our society engaging in ‘sinful’ behaviors, only to blissfully meander through life supposedly unscathed. Sure, you can harbor the inner self-righteous hope that they’ll get theirs in the end, but is that any way to see another person made in God’s image? Yet as a believer, practicing restraint from many of society’s greatest pleasures, have you ever wondered, “What gives?” Solomon struggled with this many millennia ago, but what about today? We’ve sanctioned many sinful behaviors, actions that are now governmentally legal, but are still not approved by God and His mandates. Is the concept of sin growing irrelevant if those engaging in it never seem to experience sin’s wage? To answer that question, I will ask a different question.

Would you say that a two year old male child has reached his full human potential? The answer is, "of course not;" a two year is constantly maturing into what he was designed to eventually become. The baby does not stay two forever, but constantly grows and matures into a full grown adult. Now let's suppose that you are a rather fit individual with an above average amount of strength. Though the two year old may grow up to be a 325 pound NFL linebacker at maturity, is it not highly probable that at the age of two you would still be able to control the child? Certainly you would, even as this individual reached the beginning of his teen years it is still likely that your personal fortitude and strength could subdue the young man. But what about 10 years later when he begins bench pressing 500 plus pounds and leg pressing half a ton?

So what happened, how did the little child who was so easily subdued, suddenly become the behemoth capable of rendering indescribable pain on your fit torso? The child went through the natural process of maturity. During that process he gained strength, size and stamina. Eventually this child overthrew your ability to control him. In the same way, sin masquerades as a little infant, easily controllable by its adopter. Notice the control that secular humanism appears to warrant over sinful pleasure:

"Short of harming others or compelling them to do likewise, individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their life-styles as they desire."
Humanist Manifesto II

But as sin is embraced it begins to grow into, not its final state, but its mature state: death. As sin continues to mature it becomes less and less controllable, and eventually the action no longer even resembles pleasure. Hollywood often portrays these downward spirals in films such as Blow, Traffic, Less than Zero, Leaving Las Vegas, 24 Grams, When A Man Loves A Woman, and countless others while never grasping that the end result is not an outcome but the intent. Addiction in any form becomes merely a required motion, one that no longer produces pleasure but instead momentarily anescetizes the pain that has been previously generated from the action itself. But just as the two year old baby, without warning, becomes the linebacker with strength enough to subdue you, mankind does not control at what moment sin matures into death.

But death doesn’t have to be so final here, little deaths can occur from the first time one engages in sin, such as the death of brain mass through drug usage, the death of self respect after a desired sexual encounter turns south, the death of a family relationship when daddy chooses one quick and hidden night of passion on a business trip, the death self control as nicotine overtakes the curious smoker, the list goes on and on. Death occurs whether we are aware of it or not. Ultimate death is the full maturity of sin, but like our linebacker, even as a young man in college or even high school it is likely that he could still overtake you in a fight, even if he hasn’t reached full maturity. And when sin matures, its consequences are often far more devastating than just the death of the individual. Let me give a hypothetical scenario.


Suppose a particular resort chain were to focus its media marketing predominantly on its free spiritedness toward sexual behavior and expression. By choosing to globally market in such a manner, these resorts would no doubt flourish with throngs of sexually promiscuous and pleasure-centered individuals. That is the demographic they chose as their core target audience. With its profitable demographic secured, the resort would encourage freedom of sexuality through its events, games and nightlife.

But suppose a finding were to surface that during the last five years 30% of those having contracted AIDS in the U.S. had visited this particular resort chain, and of that cohort, although having numerous partners prior to and after their resort visit, 75% had contracted the disease only after their visits? Perhaps the study began to pick up some media steam, and a large weekly global magazine decided to publish an article describing these findings under a headline reading, "AIDS Resort?"

Now, the hotel staff and management and its corporate executives could attempt to distance themselves from any blame, citing a strict "safer sex" policy and providing a steady supply of condoms in every resort bedroom. But after a story such as this floods the national and international media, what happens to the tourism numbers at the resort? Moreover, the resort has been indelibly branded with a label that its PR team can’t fully wear off. Even if the resort choses to redirect its marketing toward wholesome family fun, could the resort fully shake its inflicting and detrimental moniker?

Free-spirited sexuality was the quick and immediate marketing draw. But objective and immutable biological destruction from a maturing sinful behavior became the catalyst to the resort's (and its patrons) demise. Moreover, those employed at the resort would also suffer serious recourse, for there would be no more jobs if there were no more resort. It is also likely that the employees would find new employment a difficult proposition, for what other local establishment would hire these past employees, knowing that their own customer base might be highly offended to learn that their ten year old's arts and crafts class lesson was being conducted by the former activities director at "AIDS Resort?" So the potential overall and continual damage for the previous employees is staggering, the parent corporation has suffered major losses, and numerous former guests are permanent patrons of AIDS clinics, hospitals and morgues, all because of the “sinful” money making decision of the corporation’s executive team.

This says nothing about the innocent townspeople in the resort area, having fed and raised their families on the money collected from selling their wares to resort patrons. What do you suppose happens to them and their desire to live prosperous and peaceful lives? Where does our humanist quote fit in now?

"Short of harming others or compelling them to do likewise, individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their life-styles as they desire."
Humanist Manifesto II

Does this take away from the spiritual side of sin’s damage? Absolutely not, but it helps us better understand God’s love and compassion for His greatest creation, humanity. We see His love, not in the restriction of actions but in His liberation from outcomes (read Deuteronomy 28 in this light). God desires that none should perish, not just spiritually, but in all aspects of their lives, both here on this earth and in the life (or death) to come.

Sin masquerades as an infant, only to decimate and destroy when it reaches its intended maturity. We’ve made little headway by berating people for playing with the infant. Maybe its time to start lovingly observing, illuminating and addressing sin in its mature state.

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