American culture may have become more enlightened and moved beyond such constricting, old-fashioned ideas like sin and hell, but God hasn’t.
Sin is still serious, hell still exists, and sinners still go there. Or as St. Paul put it, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived…” (1 Corinthians 6.9)
Of course, there’s hope! By God’s grace, we can turn from our sins and find salvation in Jesus Christ.
But first, we need to acknowledge our sins and that we need saving. And once we are given new life in Christ, the Christian life has just begun, and we are called to cooperate with God’s grace to grow in holiness.
Here is a list of a few sins that are widely accepted in our culture as normal, but that we still need to take seriously:
But what if they person never finds out? What if it’s just for convenience? Or what if it’s for a greater good?
Nope, lying is still lying, and it’s still wrong.
Lying is telling a falsehood with the intention of deceiving, and it’s always wrong because it’s an offense against the Truth, which is Christ (John 14.6).
Remember, lying is the native tongue of the Devil, whom Jesus calls “the father of lies.” (John 8.44) And the deuterocanonical book of Wisdom warns: “lying will destroy your soul.” (Wisdom 1.11)
2) Sexual immorality
“Flee from sexual immorality!” (1 Corinthians 6.18)
But can’t we do whatever we want with our bodies? As long as a person consents, anything goes, right?
Wrong. St. Paul says, “Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. […] You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6.18-20)
We can sin against our own bodies. God has made us and our sexuality with dignity, value, and order – all of which should be respected and cherished.
And remember that Christ extended this teaching even to lust in one’s heart: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
“You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20.15)
Stealing is taking something to which you have no right.
That includes copyrighted material: stealing doesn’t become acceptable simply because you’re on the Internet. Everyone knows this, but many of us do it anyway. Yet theft is a grave sin.
Alcohol is a wonderful gift from God. Jesus turned water into wine, and Christian monks used to make the best beer in the world.
But intentionally drinking too much so as to become drunk and lose control is a sin: “Do not be deceived… drunkards… will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6.9-10) “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but,” St. Paul offers us the alternative, “be filled with the Spirit!” (Ephesians 5.18)
Some have called this the forgotten vice.
We obviously need to eat, there’s a time for feasting, and food can be wonderfully enjoyable. But, like alcohol, everything must be enjoyed in moderation. Gluttony is an immoderate love of food, and it can have not only serious consequences for our health, but also our soul.
“Enemies of the cross of Christ… their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3.18-19)
Hah! That’ll get ’em good!
It’ll also get you, too.
Justice is important, and any justice which isn’t served by the government will be rectified by God in the end. But as for us right now, God calls us to a higher plane:
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. […] Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God… To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12.17, 19-21)
Also, keep in mind Jesus’ important teaching about forgiveness: “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6.14-15)
“Oh come on, nobody actually advocates murder!” Are you sure about that?
Murder is the voluntary and direct killing of an innocent human life. Even if the person is young and still developing in her mother’s womb. Even if the person is handicapped. Even if the person is sick and difficult to care for. Even if the person is old and may die soon anyway. Abortion and, increasingly, euthanasia are widely accepted and practiced throughout our society.
Yet murder is an offense against God because humans are made in His image (Genesis 1.27).
So let us all repent of our sins and seek God’s mercy in Christ!