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  • Writer's pictureMichael Holme

Sin begets sin

Updated: Mar 31

It's curious that Chapter 8 of St John's gospel has been featured in this blog before. In its 34th verse, Jesus answered, "I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave to sin." (CEB)

I've witnessed how one thing leads to another, and how the normalisation of any particular illegal or antisocial behaviour makes them increasingly easy to start copying too. In the last couple of years, the "jumping" of red road traffic lights, has become so common that more cars jump them than not in my area. Littering and fly tipping is something that begins with a "seed", or literally a scrap of rubbish, but it then follows an exponential path. Sadly, knife crime in the UK shares a similar function of growth.

Most people are sheep-like, both in picking up bad habits from others, but worse still, by allowing them to become innate, in the unchecked way, that fashions in the broadest sense manifest. And patently, the same mechanisms are stimulated by marketing gurus, fashion designers, and all exploitative minds. More recently two very brief and unhelpful mantras have evolved and spread in this manner. Neither featured much in my own 1980s youth and undergraduate years. One is "be kind", which I've already blogged about, and the other is "not my problem". I think wide propagation of the latter one will clearly damage any society.

My point here, is that I think Jesus was suggesting that the longer you spend on a path, positive or negative, then the harder it is to get off it, regardless of the nature of the paths. Other examples are gambling, drug and alcohol addictions; and frankly, endless pointless habits (read on).

The word "sin" is not so helpful and can certainly point us to "The Ten Commandments", or "The Seven Deadly..." Personally, I think we should be more path aware in general. Sins can be viewed as behaviours that follow deceptive and snowballing routes. They might be bad for ourselves, others, animals, and/or the wider natural world. They needn't be seriously criminal. And for example, antisocial actions like fly tipping, might truly have started with the attitude of dropping minor litter on footpaths, or chocolate bar wrappers out of car windows. Maybe it's not their problem to take it home, after all, in a dreadful capitalistic country, with perhaps millions of less than fair financial exchanges occurring daily; I don't know, by the hour even; who cares? We're all at it. Everyone is bent... ; ho hum...

In Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, a recurring and pointless "sin" against self is happening. For suffers, daily unnecessary checks and/or behaviours can become a serious handicap. But they started somewhere, before the "sin begotten sin" mechanism took over. Reiterating then, I think the deceptive and snowballing nature of this particular path, is more important to realise than the knowing of right from wrong alone. Not many fail to know the difference between right and wrong, despite how they act. Some people, including C.S. Lewis, think this same knowledge is automatically with us at birth, and we therefore don't need to be taught it. They add that it is a proof of the existence of God. Of course, I personally would need to say, "what do you mean, God?", but I do see their point.

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