There is a long tradition in the Church that speaks of Seven Deadly Sins. When I learned them, my instructor suggested the acronym PEASASGL: Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, and Lust. Though there is no one place in Scripture that puts these seven sins together, Paul comes close in Romans 1.
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”Romans 1:21–32, ESV
Paul did not worry about what people thought. I was concerned first and foremost with what God thought, and he was not afraid to express it. It is not hard to spot all seven of these sins in our world today. They have been with us from the beginning. However, that does not excuse their presence. “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” We should not be surprised by the evil men do and the evil they devise.
My question is, when did the Church decide to stop calling these things sin and join in approving those who practice them? When did the Church stop preaching about PEASAGL? I have no answer. The apostles did not hesitate to identify false teachers and heretics in the Church. When was the last time you heard the voice of the Church in harmony declare something as heresy?
I grant you that we should be cautious about using the term heresy. Many things have been called heresy that are not, and many things that are heresy that are not called heresy. The reformers called the teachings of the Roman Church heresy and the Church called the reformers heretics. We should be even more careful about using the word heretic. Were both wrong? That’s a whole other discussion. My point is that there are some things the Church Universal agrees as essential to faith (the Apostles’ Creed), and they used to agree on PEASAGL.
I say used to because sin is something we order for dessert, not something we do contrary to God’s holy will. I believe that some of the problem is due to the fact that though we are declared righteous in Christ, we all still commit sin. Yet, I believe that there has been another change in the world. We have cast off reason for emotion. What feels right is right. Such a thought is itself the sin of pride. It is the original sin.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”Isaiah 1:18, ESV
The day we became more concerned about other’s feelings than truth is the day that sin won. Yes, people’s feelings do matter. God’s Truth matters more, and this is why Paul wrote what he did in Romans 1. Today, the Church chooses which parts of Scripture to observe and which parts to cast off. That whole part about God giving those who deny him over to unnatural passions sticks out to me. Notice that denial has to do with truth, and passions have to do with feelings. Paul defines unnatural passions as homosexuality. Isn’t it interesting how the glorification of homosexuality today is through Pride parades and Pride gatherings? Pride is often called the chief sin because all other sin begins with and flows out of pride.
So, not only are these people proud to be sinners, they flaunt their sin publicly. But it goes a step further. Those who disagree with them and celebrate their sin are labeled as phobic of one sort or another. There is no discussion about the matter. Name-calling, another emotional response, is how it is defended. All the while, God is calling out, “Come, let us reason together.”
Then, the Church, the body of Christ in the world, decides that homosexuality is ok because those parts of God’s word are judged to be archaic and culturally irrelevant. Of course, humans judge it to be so because culture determines who God is, what God says, and what God means. Indeed, an all-loving god would not deny us our passions! Nowhere does God tell us to be disciplined, obey Christ’s commands, and be holy even as he is holy. The Church has become sinful. It is a holy thing to do to welcome those who practice such deviant things into our midst. It is there they can learn what God’s love really is. As Isaiah reports God’s message, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
If we don’t preach about sin, we have nothing to offer the world. We preach sin because sinners can be cleansed and made whole through the blood of Jesus Christ. But, that’s ok. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. The reality is that we all don’t want our feelings hurt. So much so that we are willing to allow God’s beautiful creatures to spend eternity in a hell where their feelings will never stop hurting.