I spoke with a woman recently who said she was struggling to find a faith. Nodding toward her husband, who was tending to their toddler, she said, “He’s a Christian, but I’m having a difficult time with it.”
Her ability to carve out a faith, she explained, was inextricably related to her job. She works in Law Enforcement.
“I don’t get that ‘All sin is the same’,” she said. “If the people who believe that had met the people I have, they’d be struggling, too. My sin is not the same as the man who raped babies for 10 years.”
I don’t know the woman well, so I can’t attest to whether her sins are different than those of a man who has raped babies for 10 years, but I do understand her dilemma.
While I believe that we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God, and I confess that I sin on a daily basis – some days I sin on a minute by minute basis – not all sin is equal. Some sins are more malignant than others.
There was a news report out this week of a gal who left her two toddlers for 15 hours in a car in Texas heat. Those babies died. Her neglect led to the death of her children. That angers me to no end, but in no way does my anger equate to the sin of killing two children.
Have you ever been so angry you wished another person dead? There are times the sin of anger can lead a person to commit murder but being angry enough to wish another dead is not the same as the sin of actually killing another person. The sins are not equal. One sin leads to a dead body. The other just leads to a troubled spirit.
Oh, I know Jimmy Carter said that to lust in his heart for another woman was the same has committing adultery, but is it? Bless his heart, Jimmy Carter is a good, good man. Who among us thinks that Jimmy Carter finding other women attractive is the same wrongdoing as Donald Trump bragging about grabbing women by their vaginas? Or that Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women is the same wrongdoing as Bill Clinton engaging in illicit sexual activity in the Oval Office? Those sins are not equal in the amount of damage they inflict upon others.
All sin makes us fall short of the Glory of God, but that’s the breadth and width in which sin is the same.
All sin but not all sin is equal.
Which is the greater sin: To hate a person for the evil they inflict upon others? Or to defend the evil a person does as the mysterious ways of God?
Sin has consequences. The greater the sin the more widespread the consequences.
These are the things I wanted to say to that woman cop. I wanted to tell her it is possible to have faith and hate another human being. It is possible to have faith and to not be part of a community that believes God handpicks evildoers to carry out some warped will of His. I wanted to tell her that it is possible to have a faith and still believe that killing a child by leaving them in a hot car in Texas for 15 hours is a greater sin than abortion. I wanted to tell her that while God forgives all who repent from their sins – whatever the sin – God will not look favorably on those who rape babies. Or those who blame God for the wrongdoings of evil leaders that they themselves elected to office.
I wanted to tell her that the only faith worth having is the one you struggle with.
Anything else isn’t faith at all – it’s an allegiance.
Faith requires you to think.
Allegiance requires that you rely on others to do your thinking for you.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of the forthcoming CHRISTIAN BEND: A Novel (Mercer University Press).