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The S Word

We all sin. To avoid using the "s" word, we may call it by other less penetrating names; politically correct names. But sin by any other name remains what it is, sin. It is not uncommon for man to blame external causes and conditions for our troubles and sicknesses, while all the time the real trouble is sin.

One of the greatest problems we face today is that of controlling the absurd, the insane in human nature which tend to defy complete control. We observe this in acts of violence, extreme aggression, mass hysteria, and mob brutality. As capital crime violence mount, we seem to think severe legal penalties will eradicate or tame the problems. So we strengthen our police force, lengthen regulations, and extend jail sentences. But there is something peculiar under the sun. Even after we have tightened up, the results are still the same.

Who can deny that our world is suffering from a severe spiritual illness? We are living in the midst of economic paralysis and social disorder. Underneath the surface, there is sin: the sin of greed, power, contempt for human beings, and the denial of brotherhood. Our spiritual sickness can only be cured by a spiritual restoration. Peace treaties have not worked for long in the past and we have no reason to believe they will be any more effective in the future. There must be an agreement with God, with the moral and spiritual realities. We have sinned. We have made alcohol more important than blood, shoes more important than people, national prestige more important than human welfare and personal agendas more important than childrens' rights.

I submit, we are dealing with something that cannot be permanently changed. We are dealing with sin. Guess what? Jails are not big enough to contain sin. There are neither enough nor powerful enough arsenals in the world to kill sin. The demons running our streets cannot be controlled by the supreme court judges or any other judge. The pathology running rampart among us cannot be controlled by police with pistols on their hip.

Sin within is manifested without; it darkens human life and saddens human history. Until we learn the unique gift of God in Jesus Christ, there will always be restlessness. Until we recognize who Jesus is, we will not be able to cure the threat. Someone once said that if we fail to retreat from sin, we will advance in it. Sin is an offense against an infinite God and will have immeasurable consequences, unless we turn to God for strength to resist.

Yet, deep within ourselves, we know that the god we have deluded ourselves into believing in is not the true God. Sometimes in the quiet of the night or in the midst of prayer, we know that we have caricatured God. Regardless of how we live, in the deepest recess of our minds, we know that what we sow, we do reap. We know that whatever kind of bread we cast upon the waters will return to us. We know that there is an unbending moral law which men and nations of men do not ultimately escape. We know that God's justice and wrath and condemnation move increasingly upon our soft and sin accommodating ways. We see our excuses, rationalizations, and alibis for what they are: sin cover-ups. In these fleeting moments, we remember our wasted hours, our cowardice and our deafness to human pain-and we know that judgment day is real and that every day is judgment day, even today.

Rev. Saundra L. Washington, D.D., is an ordained clergywoman, social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach. Her new book, Out of Deep Waters: A Grief Healing Workbook, will be available soon.

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