Fictional Depictions of Sin Part 1 – Prescription

It is not a sin to be tempted by sin.

Adrian Rogers

I’ve always been curious about this question: how do Christians react with the depictions of sin seen in both historical and fictional accounts of event? Do we completely avoid them and “flee from sin”, so to speak, or can we learn something from observing such detrimental phenomenon?

A lot of my personal stake in this question arose simply as a matter of upbringing. The culture of Baptist and Evangelical morality meant that, for the most part, we should avoid novels, movies, and video games with any kind of untoward content. As children of the living God, it remains our duty to draw away from such things, lest we confuse our new life with our old, dead one. Because of this, alternative media arose to help the believer on their new path; they could enjoy the fruits of humanity’s advancements while still drawing closer to God. At least, that’s the idea behind Christian media and contemporary Christian music. I owned more than my fair share of “Christian” CDs that allowed Christians the pleasure of rapcore (yes, back in the day, people liked rapcore!) with a Christ-fueled tinge. None of this felt weird to me since I didn’t much know about anything outside the bubble…except video games!

In a way, this makes perfect sense that Christians strive to be sinless like Christ; on the other hand, that attempt seems wholly unrealistic in light of sin’s continual presence in the life of the believer. Does this help your children understand sin? Sort of! Does these attempts to create derivative works with lyrical changes, offensive content culling, or otherwise really show the creative juices of the imago Dei? I would wager a big fat “no”. If Christians should be anything, “creative” would be the first word that comes to mind, and yet filling the mind with the shelter of home can often lead to a fear of the unknown.

Most of this shows the process of Biblical interpretation – why do we emphasize Christ’s sinless nature while also seeming to deny the horrible sins and acts caused by innumerable people in the Bible’s vast array of faces? How can a holy book contain so much sin and death as a contrast if we were meant to avoid it entirely in our own lives? Do we confront sin to see ourselves more clearly? Those are the questions I want to ask.

Prescription

God’s Word, obviously, says one definitively negative thing about sin after another, and also displays the consequences and problems with sin as a whole. If you want to take it back to Genesis, then it also shows sin’s origins in human existence, not God’s, and God subsequently set a plan into motion for humanity’s salvation. Even so, the uses of the word in actual Scripture remain wide and vast, referring to a number of different concepts in the same general vein. In general, though, it’s safe to say that sin involves missing a mark, going off the correct path, or transgressing God’s pre-established law. God gives us a standard of acceptable and un-acceptable behavior, and sin defines the other side of the line; it shows us exactly where we should not go. At the same time, God does not give us a pre-defined set of rules to follow – otherwise, that would be the Law – but lets us live in the freedom of grace. None of this provides hard and fast answers for every situation, but it does allow us to learn our lessons more vividly through experience, prayers, and otherwise.

New Testament theology explains further through 1 John 3:

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

Honestly, that’s incredibly straightforward, and pretty much establishes all the things I’ve said earlier. Of course, on the other hand, this set of verses makes a pretty clear distinction between observation and practice. Those who practice sin deserve punishment; those that don’t, don’t. Christians should not sin, because sin does not come from God. Pretty simple stuff, right? 1 John 5 says the same thing in different words:

16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.

All sin leads to death. The unsaved are dead in sin. Christians do not sin because they’re alive in Christ. Therefore, Christians should not sin. All of this seems pretty straightforward, all thing considered. Christians should flee from sin at any opportunity, and refuse to commit it even in their own better interests. Christ did not die to give you and I free license to commit any illicit action; rather, God’s grace lets us learn and proceed forward without the burden and debt of sin (since, as we know, it was already paid by Christ).

Part 2 

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.