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All about sin. What is it, how does it work, what does it do—whatever your questions are

What about crimes that are not addressed in the Bible?

Postby Newbie » Thu Apr 03, 2014 3:50 pm

If sin is a transgression against God's law, then where does that leave all the crimes that are not addressed by Scripture? As far as I know there are no divine laws against a multitude of "sins", e.g., polluting a river or insider trading. Does this mean you can keep the commandments but ignore the canon of man-made laws? How exactly do you reconcile the idea of sin with bad behavior not addressed by Scripture?
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Re: What about crimes that are not addressed in the Bible?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:15 pm

You really can't expect that the Bible would name every possible sin by every possible person in every possible place. I will say that your definition of sin is far more restrictive than what's in the Bible. The Bible uses lots of different concepts to describe sin. In some, sin is defined by its causes (ignorance, error, inattention); in some it's defined by its nature (missing the mark, transgression, impiety, rebellion, treachery, perversion, abomination); in some it's defined by its consequence (trouble, restlessness, evil, badness, guilt). Sin can be any lack of conformity, whether active or passive, to the moral law of God, which is also (in theory) the moral law of humankind. Sin is anything that violates the righteous nature of God. As such, it's more or less a catch-all term for anything that's wrong.

Specific to your examples, God told us to to take care of the environment in Gen. 1.26 and 28.

As far as the laws of the government, Heb. 13.17 says we should obey those in authority over us, as does Rom. 13.1ff. The point is that while all power ultimately belongs to God, he delegates the exercise of governmental power to human beings, for the purpose of maintaining the moral order, and that we should "give to Caesar what is Caesar's", so to speak. State authorities should get what is due to them. He's making a moral statement, not a metaphysical one. He's not talking about the nature of all political reality, which as we all know, can be quite full of corruption. It's not saying that every government there is was put in place by God, but that God is the one who instituted government for the benefit of all people. That doesn't mean God approves of everything a government does, or that he assumes responsibility for what they do. What it does mean is that God expects a government to governs according to moral law, and for people to submit to the laws they make.

That makes insider trading a sin. It's against the law because it's an unfair (unjust) practice based on privileged information in order to enrich oneself unfairly and, essentially, to steal from others.
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Re: What about crimes that are not addressed in the Bible?

Postby Packs a Whallop » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:34 pm

The laws are uneven and country-dependent. So is it a sin where it's illegal and not a sin where it's legal?
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Re: What about crimes that are not addressed in the Bible?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:52 pm

That's really a great question, and it gets into pretty tricky business, because many laws are unjust and are there to favor the rich and powerful. We all know that one of the primary uses of political power is to give oneself and one's allies an advantage, and to create mechanisms to keep the power you have and get more of it, not to mention keep the money you have and get more of it. When it comes right down to it, there is a lot of evil in human government, even in the best-case scenarios.

When Paul was writing Romans 13, Nero was in power in Rome. The Roman government considered itself not just "useful as an extension of God's rule of justice," but divine in and of itself. The State was corrupt, weak, abusive, and extraordinarily powerful. Nevertheless, Paul supports the idea of willing, rational duty. A believer really can't subscribe to the immoral edicts of a corrupt government, but sometimes in the practicality of matters, no one can fight against everything. In some places we comply, and in others we defy, as our conscience leads us. Sometimes a law makes something illegal, such as marijuana use, and then a week later it's legal. So is it not a sin to smoke it, then, where it was a "sin" a week earlier? In a sense, no, because it's not against the law anymore. That, however, doesn't make it a wise choice or even a moral one, because the government can't necessarily be counted on to always make the moral choice in the formation of laws. So Christians have to way all moral choices (including obeying the laws or not) under the overarching standards of God's character and the morality that is based in his nature. Sometimes, also, Christians are going to disagree about such things (Rom. 13.8-15.13), and sometimes those disagreements are to be expected and tolerated. So is it a sin where it's illegal and not a sin where it's legal? Perhaps, but not necessarily, because many factors must be weighed to make a moral and godly decisions. It's rarely an issue of simple black-and-white.

Remember also that the "introductory" statement of Romans 13 is found in the last verse of Romans 12: "Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Often principles of attitude and behavior are more useful than lists of rules, so that Christians can rationally think things through, seek the Spirit that is in them, read the Word, pray, and make the wisest choice possible.
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Re: What about crimes that are not addressed in the Bible?

Postby gmw803 » Fri Jun 06, 2014 11:13 am

Why do we have any problem with an activity that is sin on one side of a fence, but not sin on the other? You and I are next-door neighbors. You don't smoke, but you permit your guests to smoke. I don't want anyone smoking in my house. Is my guest within the will of God because God would allow the same freedoms on both sides of the fence?

But if you believe that smoking is a sin whether you have permission or not. You and I are travelling together, and it straddles Sunday morning. We find a corner with two churches, and we cannot agree which to go to. There is a communion service in each church. The church you chose welcomes all Christians to partake. The church I chose restricts participation to members. Where is the paradox?


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