Abomination. That’s one of those big, ominous-sounding words that many Christians love to use. Sometimes, it seems, calling something “sin” isn’t emphatic enough; words like “abomination” are employed to drive home God’s displeasure with said sin. Often, the word is used to point that same displeasure toward the person caught in or practicing that particular sin.
What strikes me is the way some Christians tend to single out only those abominations that offend their personal sensibilities, while giving a pass to anyone guilty of other God-called sins.
Take, for example, the sin of lying. I don’t know many Christians who argue that lying is acceptable; yet I have seldom heard folks call it an abomination. Lying seems to be a normal part of our existence. We see blatant lying from the business world to Washington to the schoolyard to the home.
But have we considered that God calls lying an abomination? In Proverbs 6, there is a list of things that the writer says God hates, things that are an abomination to him. We look at that list and believe that those things surely ought to be avoided. Of the seven things listed, two of them are: “a lying tongue” and “a false witness who utters lies.” If we believe this passage, then we must conclude that God despises lying. Jesus was plain that our penchant for lying is a result of our relationship with Satan, the father of deception (John 8).
When we lie, we act like the devil. It is no wonder that God is sickened by those who spread untruths. So why do we decide that it is acceptable to be dishonest? We allow ourselves to lie, despite the clear teaching of Proverbs 12.22: “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.” (There’s our word again). Yet we attack those whose abominable actions we deem worse than our own.
Perhaps the problem lies in something Jesus addressed in Matthew 7.1-5. Too often, we find it easy to spot the sin in others while overlooking our own. I know my sin. I can identify that which displeases God in my life. But if I can call out someone else’s sin, it makes my sin not seem so bad. I may be an untruthful person, clearly an abomination. But if I can find a “bigger” abomination in you, my lying suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
But the wages of sin – all sin – is death (Romans 6.23). And ignored sin is no less deadly. Aside from the potential eternal consequences, Jesus said that it would be impossible to give aid to a struggling sinner without first dealing with my sin.
Sin and its consequences have wreaked havoc among humanity. Yes, my sin is an abomination. It’s despicable to God. But the beauty and the magnitude of the grace of God are seen in the fact that sin can be taken away with the blood of Jesus, who died for sinners (Romans 5.8), for all sinners, no matter their abomination.
Tim Parish is the preaching minister at Maple Hill Church of Christ. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.