Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Understanding sin

The transcript of Day C149 of the Australian Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses To Child Sexual Abuse records this from former Archbishop Peter Jensen:

The second thing that was believed was that if a
person perpetrated this, it was likely to be a lapse and
not something that they would do all the time. We again
know that this is utterly false.

Jensen’s comment is robust in terms of sexual abuse perpetrators generally.  In context it is in respect abuse received by a person known as [BYC] by a church leader.

Now, I find the comment absolutely perplexing.  It is perplexing that a sinner may simply “lapse”.  “Lapsing” is somehow preferred to “something they would do all the time”.  Alcoholics Anonymous know that people don’t simply “lapse”.  

It is time perhaps for a quick lesson on sin.  I learnt all I know about sin, ironically, at Sydney Anglican churches.

Sin is simply falling short of God.  The sin, while it may damage an individual or individuals, is firstly against God.  Whether a person lapses (presumed here to be a one-off occurrence) or repeats their behaviour it is all sin.  There is no black sin or white sin; just sin.  There is no good sin or bad sin; just sin.  There is no hot sin or cold sin; just sin.  There is no 'half-pregnant' sin; just sin.  Sin is sin whichever way you look at it.

“Lapsing” is a convenient notion as presumably one can have many lapses yet not quite got to a point where they are doing bad all the time.  This statement, for instance, is nonsensical: 

I perpetually lapse in the inclusion of sit-ups in my fitness
 routine, but don’t fail to do sit-ups all the time.  

In this linked article the author does not hesitate to call for a "one-strike policy".

Unlike Jensen, I’ll choose not to believe that there is latitude between lapsing and something that a person would do all the time.  The true character of sin, and of the heart of man, does not afford such latitude.


To be sure: In the balance of the transcript Jensen identifies with many things he was taught  through meeting victims that would have changed what he believed.

No comments:

Post a Comment