It is certainly true that many Christians have distorted or unbalanced views of God. But just as dangerous to our spiritual health is the “spin” the world puts on sin. The first lie is the idea of heroic sin. This lie has many permutations, but it basically asserts that breaking God’s law is a brave act of defiance against a tyrant. This spin on sin was very popular with Byron and Shelley and their romantic imitators. This romantic spin on sin has lived on in certain rock-and-roll celebrations of sex, drugs, and rebellion against authority.
Another spin is that rules were made to be broken. In Milton’s Paradise Lost Satan tries to convince Eve that God made the rule against eating of the tree of knowledge so that Eve could have an opportunity to show her independence through disobedience. The breaking of the rule, Satan argues, is something God desires and a step in her development. This idea of sin as a step into maturity and wisdom still floats around today. It is especially tempting to kids raised in the church who are made to feel ignorant and stupid because they have not yet explored all the dark corners of sin and depravity.
Perhaps one of the saddest spins on sin is one given by some unthinking Christians. It is the flipped-coin version that presents the law of God as just an arbitrary set of rules. It’s like God flipped a coin and decided some things were wrong. Legalists present sin as the violation of arbitrary rules because they approach the Scripture as a list of rules rather than a revelation of the love and holiness of God. They present God’s law as an expression of his need to assert his authority rather than as an expression of his love for man. It is easy to break a rule when the rule has no point.
In his Letters to Malcolm, C. S. Lewis argues that we should see sin as vandalism. Sin like vandalism isn’t creative, doesn’t build anything, and doesn’t offer anything new. It only mars and distorts the good things God has given. The sexual union between a man and woman, the true oneness of body and heart without the loss of identity, is possibly one of the greatest natural gifts given by God. It also is a picture of the ultimate oneness of the bride (the church) and the bridegroom (Christ). So it makes sense that Satan is always and forever marring, destroying, and distorting the holy beauty of the sexual relationship.
We break the windows of God’s creation and act like we were brave, we spray paint obscenities on the walls of the world and declare ourselves creative, and like a wave we break our hearts against the solid rock of God’s love and boast in our strength. But like a rock, God’s law remains—it remains an expression of his love for us. God hates sin because he loves us. Because God made us, only he knows what will bring us joy, peace, and holy purpose. We can trust God’s law because he made us; we can trust his love because Christ gave his life for us. Ultimately, we sin not against a law or rule, we sin against Jesus who on the cross looked at sinners and said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” When we sin, we sin against love.