Saturday, April 25, 2009

Try out the sliding-sin scale today!

I see in a lot of places the idea that God doesn't really measure "levels" of sin. All sin is equal in the eyes of God, whether it be stealing a candy bar or wiping out an entire country. Both crimes get the maximum sentence, which is death/hell/a combination of the two/something else not all that pleasant. There isn't really a sense of a punishment that is proportionate to the crime. Rather, all crimes are equally bad.

Very often, the idea that all crimes equal the same maximum punishment is seen as okay, and a just thing, and who are we to question God?

I touched on this in the comments of my last post, but if that principle -- all crimes are equal -- are applied to actual people, would we really enjoy being around those types of people?

Then let's try applying that to a society. Say we lived in a country where capital punishment was given to those who stole candy bars. Capital punishment was given to those who committed adultery. And capital punishment was given to serial killers.

And that's just with actions we all agree are crimes (though the second one falls under a moral crime). What about someone who says something unkind to another person, and capital punishment is also applied there. Or someone who hates another, and thus must also be put to death. Or one of the favorite scenarios I see Kirk Cameron using -- if you've ever told a lie, you've broken one of the Ten Commandments, and thus deserve to go to hell.

Would anyone find that type of society just? Or compassionate? Or merciful? Instead, wouldn't we find that society to be on the tyrannical side? A society that gives no leeway for the imperfections of human nature?

Under no circumstances would anyone call that society good. We would say that living in that manner would be perhaps tantamount to torture, because everyone would be so worried about being imperfect that they'd never just be allowed to live.

The workarounds I see for this are that I can't judge God by man's reasoning, I must use God's reasoning. The problem is that as soon as God is described as good, or just, we need some way of defining those words. Otherwise, any description of God becomes meaningless.

Another workaround for this could be that we have to make allowances for the sinful nature of man. Since we know that no one is going to behave perfectly, we must have a society that operates in that fashion, so that people are constantly getting killed through capital punishment. If that were the case, then we wouldn't have a society left.

But isn't the fact that we're making allowances for the imperfection of man admitting that a law structure demanding perfection isn't just? That it's almost borderline cruel? If we're applying a standard of justice to this, then a society should organize its laws to require perfection regardless of how sinful said subjects of the society are.