Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beautiful Sin


I'm a writer. Pretty much always have been. Whether or not I ever become an author doesn't necessarily matter... I have to write, and I do. Even more than a writer, I'm a reader - that's why I started writing: I wanted to read the stories in my head. :) 

Most of all, though, I just plain love stories. Reading them, writing them, watching them, listening to them... I am the stories that have become part of me. They say the books you read and the friends you have are the two things that will most affect who you are in five years, and I would have to agree. 

And that, of course, brings some trouble with it. Because there are a lot of bad stories, stories about bad people, and bad stories about bad people lying around. 
When I was younger, pretty much every book fell short of my standard of perfection. I wanted perfect heroes and heroines, clean books with nothing that would make me uncomfortable in the least... and I rarely found them. There was always that one line that annoyed me, that one action of the main character that made me sigh with disappointment. 
Unrealistic expectations, yes... but they made me fall more in love with the only One who really is Perfect, and I became more and more awed by Him as I saw how utterly unlike anyone else He was. 

And then I got older... and discovered the color gray... and actually began to appreciate people like the apostle Peter, who had always kind of disgusted me before. He wasn't perfect, you see... but, newsflash, neither was I. Mercy suddenly became a whole lot more important to me... and I began to realize that I had the ability to see anyone's point of view, even if I had to stand on my head to do so. I could get where they were coming from, even if it was directly opposite everything I believed - I could at least understand why they believed what they did, even I couldn't agree with them less.

I was growing up. Stories that had once irritated me now fascinated me - I didn't want unrealistic characters, I wanted real ones. I wanted to see God's grace splashed across the page, redemption in action, forgiveness and mercy illustrated, because the Word who came down from heaven and became Flesh is the most incredible, awesome story of them all. 
sin has to look like this...

But with understanding and compassion comes danger. What about when you completely understand the villain... and redemption never comes? Or the darkness is explored so thoroughly that light is not given a chance to shine? What about when evil is shown as attractive? 

or this, apparently... ;)




As a writer, this can be strange. I don't have many ugly, scarred, creepy villains in my own stories... some are simply utterly unattractive, but some are beautiful. Are sympathetic. Are easy to understand. 
Satan himself can appear an angel of light - small wonder those who serve him can appear so also. If sin showed up as a horror with whip and chains, we'd run for our lives. 
and not like this, for us to find it sympathetic...
(*cough* I was going to use a picture of Heath Ledger's Joker... but I didn't want to give myself nightmares. :P) ***




Sin, especially for Christians, has to be something attractive. A little lie to make someone feel better... a moment of silence when we should speak up, so we don't make someone uncomfortable... or an epic story that exalts something other than God, but is suuuuuch an awesome story it has to be read or watched. You know what tempts you most.










Sin, which brings death to the soul, is yet sweet to the taste. The more we sin the more perverted becomes our taste, the more clamorous for further indulgence. But these stolen waters of sinful pleasure are not always sweet. Pleasant though they may be at the first, they will become bitter indeed. The power of sin lies in its pleasure. - Anonymous

Yeah. 

And now finally what I've been thinking about lately. It's one thing to understand someone caught in sin, to love them as we are commanded to... it's another to find their sin less than sinful. 

Sin is what put Jesus Christ on the cross. 

There is nothing to be compared to the ugliness of that. The moment I forget that sin is so dreadful, so utterly horrible, that Perfect Holiness had to die to cleanse me from it, the moment I find anything the least bit attractive about the abomination that is sin... in that moment I am discounting what Jesus did. I am lessoning His sacrifice, am liking that which causes Him pain. 

Christ gave himself for our sins, to make atonement for us: this the justice of God required, and to this he freely submitted. Here is to be observed the infinite greatness of the price bestowed, and then it will appear plainly, that the power of sin is so great, that it could by no means be put away except the Son of God be given for it. He that considers these things well, understands that sin is a thing the most horrible that can be expressed; which ought to move us, and make us afraid indeed. - Matthew Henry 

If there is beauty in evil, it is there in spite of evil, not because of it. God is beautiful - we are made in His image and we, the angels, and the universe in which He put us, are all beautiful. 
Sin is that which destroys the beauty He has created. To find that sin anything other than absolutely repellant is the first step towards sinning.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you... if you don't resist him? Well... can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can we think to favor even a little that which so abominable to our Holy Creator that His own Son had to die before reconciliation between us could occur - and not be scarred by it?

Hate it! Don't tolerate sin, not even for an instant! Look at where it leads, and let yourself recoil from it in horror! Because it is horrible, wretched, disgusting, and awful. 


But I can't stop there. To quote someone who put it much more clearly than I could,  

I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must... hate the sin but not the sinner. For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life-namely myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again. 
– C.S. Lewis

So I repeat - hate sin. But don't just flee from it. Make it flee from you. 
I know Paul told Timothy to flee youthful lusts... but in context, he was telling him to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, all things found in rather the opposite direction. And obviously, if you find yourself in a place in your life where you shouldn't be, remove yourself from temptation and start pursuing those things which glorify God. 

But at the same time, when there are others hanging in the balance... well, others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Resist the devil. In the Old Testament, God says, I will make you to this people a fenced brazen wall: and they shall fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you: for I am with you to save you and to deliver you. In the New Testament, He says, Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Whether on the offensive or the defensive, we cannot lose, because He's already won. So fight!

Love those around you, no matter what sin they love... remembering that real love rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. So if my focus is on God and His love, if my heart is seeking Him above all things... I will hate with a perfect hatred that which separates those God loves from Himself. If my eyes are open and I am seeing where a seemingly 'innocent'-but-actual-sin leads... I will see no beauty in it but that beauty which is about to be ruined, a beauty that I want saved.

There's so much hideousness in this war—I've got to go and help wipe it out of the world. I'm going to fight for the beauty of life, Rilla-my-Rilla—that is my duty. ~ Rilla of Ingleside

The beauty of Christ, who is our life - it is our duty to fight for for that.
Sometimes we forget to love... sometimes we forget to hate. Sometimes I think we forget that hatred and love go hand-in-hand. Our hatred for sin must rise in direct proportion to our love for God and His people, for sin is what prevents their reconciliation! 

Yes, love beauty, I think wherever you find it... for the Holiness of God is beautiful. But don't let yourself be deceived by bitterness hidden by beauty, by ugliness masked for a time, by fire that waits to burn you. Because it will burn you, and there is nothing beautiful about it in the end, nothing at all.  



  
*** General disclaimer: Though I have a general idea of who each of these characters whose images I found via google search are, I am not wholly familiar with them all, nor have I watched all of their stories. :P  

3 thoughts shared:

Jessica Greyson said...

Perfectly lovely and beautiful Kate! Thank you sooo much for sharing!!!

Miss Melody Muffin said...

Same here! Stories, of every kind, I love them!

Lady Morgana! Loki! Good choices for beautiful evil. (Ok, that sentence sounds odd to me...) :)

I LOVE that quote from Rilla!!! It is one of my favorites.

Can I just say a loud AMEN to this entire post!! You hit the nail firmly, squarely and completely on the head!!! Spot on, Katherine!!!

Vicki said...

This was a very thought-provoking post, Katherine ... I was actually thinking along those lines the other day, that I spend a lot of time seeing things from other people's perspectives now, too. Thank you for the timely reminder not to let myself overlook their - or my - sin just because I like the person who perpetrates it.

Oh ... on a much less serious note, I've tagged you over at my blog, too. :-)

Love,
Vicki

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