I humbly believe that one of the reasons that Christians are often sneered at is because of how some of them make use of the word ‘sin’. In fact, I have seen Christians judge other Christians on their ‘sins’ while still other Christians judge those Christians who judge and then sin themselves. Even I cringe when I hear the word ‘sin’ use as a weapon to judge others. I confess, I went through a period where I found it difficult to even call myself a Christian. I didn’t want those who weren’t Christians to come to some conclusions about what I was about based on their experience with Christians of the judging kind.
To be fair, pretty much everybody judges sometimes. If you don’t believe me think of the times you may have been leafing through a magazine looking at photos and saying to yourself,
‘Wow, she let herself go!’
‘Are they using ugly models now?’
Or how about the judging of cultures such as,
‘Eskimos eat whale blubber? Gross!’
The important thing I feel is that non-judgementalism is a skill that needs to be practised while inhabiting an attitude of love. If one has an active relationship with God, this should become easy.
The good news is that not all Christians are frigid in their acceptance of people or have misconceptions of what sin is. However, I think we all need to be aware of our attitudes consistently so we don’t fall back into the spirit of judgmentalism which includes the judging of ourselves which can be detrimental in so many ways.
What Sin Isn’t
So let’s look at what sin isn’t. Sin is not two people in a committed relationship who love each other and decide to live together without legalizing it with a marriage document. Sin is not same sex partnerships. Sin is not going against your parent’s wishes to become a doctor because you strongly feel you were born to be an artist. Sin is not about what food you eat. Sin is not being too shy or too flamboyant. Sin isn’t whether you drink or smoke. Sin isn’t how you spend your money. I can go on but I feel it is important to clarify by discussing…
What Sin Is
Sin is an attitude of the heart. Sin is also about hurting others or ourselves. We can understand the attitudes of our own hearts if we try but it is difficult to detect the attitude in someone else’s. All the above examples of what sin isn’t can in fact be sin depending on what the root attitude is. For example with the couple living together or the same sex partnership , one may be in love and committed to the relationship while the other may be a user. The daughter of the parents who want her to be a doctor may choose to go to Art college not because that is who she is but just because she wants to rebel. Deliberately eating meat in front of a Vegetarian in a revolting way to annoy them is a sin. Being shy because you have decided you don’t like people and don’t want anything to do with others can be a sin. Being flamboyant because you are attention seeking and don’t care about the feelings of others is a sin. Drinking excessively when you know you often become violent when you do is a sin, etc.
We cannot be sure of the attitudes of others. A flamboyant person may not be attention seeking but just trying to hide their insecurity. We need to bear in mind that we all sin and we all have good intentions sometimes. We especially need to bear in mind that a person may be doing something wrong without realizing it because their life’s experiences have led them on the road to have different conclusions on things. It is our job to love and accept others unconditionally. When we judge others in a negative way, it is hurting ourselves and the other person therefore we are in fact sinning. There is a place for admonishing but that comes only with wisdom and a strong relationship foundation and openness within both parties.