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“The word ‘sin,’ which seems to have disappeared, was a proud word. It was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word. It described a central point in every civilized human being’s life plan and life style. But the word went away. It has almost disappeared—the word, along with the notion. Why? Doesn’t anyone sin anymore? Doesn’t anyone believe in sin?”1 Such were the words of psychiatrist Karl Menninger in 1973. Menniger’s provocatively titled book, Whatever Became of Sin, drew attention to the sociological push to remove the word sin from the vocabulary of our culture. Now, 46 years later, Menniger’s sociological forecast has become a tragic reality.
A number of years ago, Piers Morgan interviewed Kirk Cameron. In that interview, Morgan pressured Cameron to state his views on gay marriage—something upon which our society had not yet capitulated. Morgan then asked Cameron directly, “Would you tell [your kids] that gay marriage is a sin?” Instead of answering the question directly, Cameron spoke of the unnaturalness and the harmfulness of gay marriage. When I first saw this interview when it aired, I thought to myself, “I really wish that Cameron would turn the table on Morgan and asked him to define sin.” After all, we only hear the word sin on television or in movies today when someone is mocking the concept in the Christian worldview or trying to snare a Christian on a moral issue. If someone wants to corner a believer on calling an unethical act sin, then we should answer them according to their folly and get them to admit their presuppositions about what the Scripture calls sin. Sadly, it seems that the only times we hear about sin in our culture is when one groups wishes to demonize another group for believing some particular act is...
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