Blaming Everything on “Sin”

Today we find a confusing letter blaming the Virginia Tech massacre on sin. This letter by Bill Van Duyn was published today under the heading, “Society: Address the problem of sin.”

The horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech is yet another example of what this country and our world have come to, and it is going to get worse. The news media need to start helping our country wake up to what's going on. It is sin. Say it: S-I-N! How long has it been since you heard anyone say it out loud? It's politically incorrect.

Our sin burden is huge and growing. It effectively negates the benefits of advances in knowledge and technology. It is civilization in reverse. Think about how various things were when you were a child and how they are now, especially in the areas of security, trust and respect.

When I was a boy in Florida in the late 1940s and early 1950s, we had low taxes and no welfare system, yet society was pretty well off in the ways that count most. Much of our tax burden now goes to pay for our sin burden in so many ways. Our sin burden explains why it takes two or three jobs to keep a family going.

In Mandarin in 1949, my brother and I could flag down the Greyhound bus in the morning and take it to downtown by ourselves. We would see a movie and get our hair cut for 60 cents at Crowd's barber shop on Bay Street. We would walk all over town wherever our fancy would take us, then catch the evening Greyhound bus home again. When I was a young man, you could walk into any church at any time through an unlocked front door. I remember the day in the late 1970s when the doors of our church in Orange Park had to be locked for the first time.

It's not too late. But, if we won't address our sin problem, there's no need to bother ourselves with problems like global warming.

First, the author lacks geographical and historical perspective. School violence has occurred in such countries as Canada, Australia, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Lebanon, Yemen, Argentina, Thailand, China and Japan. They have also occurred for many decades. The worst incident occurred in 1927, long before all of the events mentioned in the letter.

Second, the reason that mentioning sin in public fora is “politically incorrect” is that we live in modern, multicultural and largely secular society. Many of us don't believe that sin, defined as an offense against a supernatural deity, even exists and there is no list of actions which theists can agree are sinful. It varies from religion to religion, from sect to sect, from person to person.

Third, the author seems to equate sin with crime. If he doesn't feel safe going downtown alone or leaving his doors unlocked, that is because he fears crime, not sin in general. He is afraid of muggers and murderers, not fornicators or religious skeptics.

Forth, what exactly is a “sin burden”? Assuming this means the costs of crime, I really doubt whether crime rates are the reason for major financial difficulties. Violent crime is at all-time historical lows. It just receives a lot of coverage in the press. If the author felt safer when he was younger, that's because the city was much smaller and smaller cities usually have less crime.

Fifth, the belief that “sin” poses a greater threat to human civilization than global warming depresses me. People have always believed that society was crumbling and that everything was better when they were younger. The ancient Greeks complained about their youth not respecting their elders and not caring about their traditions, yet somehow Greek civilization is still alive and well more than two millennia later. Global warming, on the other hand, is the result of industrialization and is a real threat to our way of life. And it's not as though we can only be concerned about only one issue.

Finally, the author completely fails to mention any specific proposals to “address our sin problem.” Does he think we should force people to pray or attend religious services? Teach the Bible in schools? Fund churches? I have two words for you, buddy: establishment clause.


No comments: