The Socially Acceptable Sins

REV. T.F. TENNEY

It seems as if we are prone in our Pentecostal society to totem-pole sin. At the top, we might put homosexuality or adultery, And then, at the bottom, pride. I dare say God would reverse the order. Pride seems to be a socially acceptable sin. I’ve never known of anyone to be disfellowshipped for pride. And yet, one prideful thought turned an archangel into a devil. Pride existed in heaven before Satan was Satan.
I wrote an article one time on The Sin For Which No One Was Ever Disfellowshipped -Discourtesy. 1 Peter 3:8 said, “Finally, be courteous.” It seems that discourtesy, though explicitly denounced in the Bible is a socially acceptable sin.

It is not that our Pentecostal subculture has surrendered to sin. It Just seems to be that we cannot properly identify in totality what it really is. When we try to identify sins, we usually end up speaking of those
foul, obnoxious iniquities of the flesh. They should be denounced. These would be called socially unacceptable sins.

But there’s another category. What about greed? What about pride? What about a lack of unity? What about a slandering tongue? What about back-biting? They exist but they are seldom really dealt with. They’re just excused with little ditties such as, “Well, that’s just his nature,” or “She has a sharp tongue,” or “They’re not greedy, they’re just frugal.” Bah humbug! They are sin whether we sanction it or not.

Admittedly, there are socially unacceptable sins – drinking, cursing, drug abuse, sexual promiscuity. These sins will almost always lead to church discipline.

Eugene Habecker made this observation, “We have transformed our sin I list into a much shorter organizational list of do’s and don’ts though many items on it are more cultural concerns than Biblical absolutes. If people do the do’ s and don’t do the don’ts, they end up feeling pretty good about themselves. Unfortunately, for these people, the Bible doesn’t differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable sins.
Disobedience in God’s eye is sin no matter if we try to relegate it to some lesser status.” How true that is!

What does the Book of Proverbs say? “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth
wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19). James even goes so far as to say, ‘If we know to do good and don’t do it.” There is a sin of neglect-simply not doing good when you know to do good.

If a man robbed a bank and it was known, I can assure you he wouldn’t be singing in the choir next Sunday night. However, non-payment of tithes seems to be overlooked when the Bible is plain to say if you don’t pay your tithes you are robbing God. Well, suppose the bank robber justified himself? “I needed this to pay my bills,” or “I don’t like the way the bank handles money anyhow” or “The bank’s run by a bunch of
crooks so I may as well I get some.” I don’t care what the rationale was, he would be disciplined in the local church and jailed by the police. I’ve heard some rather strange excuses for not paying tithes. “I don’t like what the church does with my money,” and “I don’t like the preacher,” and “They have enough already.” I don’t believe God accepts any of this.

There’s just no need for us to discuss socially acceptable and socially unacceptable sins. To God, sin is sin. It is black, it is hideous, it separates in relationship, it needs repentance and forgiveness. Revelation 22 tells us that whoremongers and murderers are without the Holy city. It also tells us that “whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” is in the same category.

Oh, Lord, save me from myself and from sin – even so-called socially acceptable sins!

THE ABOVE MATREIAL WAS PUBLISHED IN THE WISCONSIN DISTRICT NEWS IN FEBRUARY, 1995, AND WAS WRITTEN BY T.F. TENNEY. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY AND RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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