We seem to be OK saying we are sinners, but we don't we admit to specific sins.
Is it as interesting to you as it is to me that we struggle to admit our sins? We seem to be OK with saying we are sinners, but we often do not admit that we have sinned in a specific way. We are reluctant, even if we get caught red-handed and especially if the sin is personally embarrassing or socially unacceptable.
A recent book by Todd D. Hunter, Our Favorite Sins: The Sins We Commit and How You Can Quit, precipitated a new Barna Group research project, “Temptations and America’s Favorite Sins.”
Those labeled as “old” temptations in the study are the kind of sins that we are accustomed to and therefore pretty much numb to: overeating (55 percent), overspending (44 percent), gossiping (26 percent), jealousy (24 percent), pornography (18 percent), lying or cheating (12 percent), abusing alcohol or drugs (11 percent) and sexual impropriety (9 percent). The percentages in brackets indicate the number of us who will admit to struggling with that sin.
Does it look to you like the more serious the sin in the eyes of others, the less we are willing to admit to struggling with it? When a large percentage of our fellow Americans are overeating and overweight, strugglers are in good company, and it is easier to admit the self-indulgence. Because admitting to lying or cheating results in being labeled a liar and precipitates the possibility of real judgment and punishment, it is less likely we will go there.
Another concern I have is the degree to which sins that are socially acceptable are equally fine with us in the church. Do we mirror the society that we live in when it comes to calling out sin?
The study also aimed to find out whether some temptations are particularly Western. Three were identified: procrastination, worrying and laziness. Interesting. We are among the most blessed and prosperous people on the planet. We have more than we need of most everything, and so we major on deferring to the future what needs doing, often until we have dropped the ball. It seems the more stuff we have the more we worry about whether we will be able to keep it and whether it really is enough. And in the face of our plenty, we are inclined to take our ease rather than to be faithfully industrious and productive.
Two “new” temptations were pointed out. Of those surveyed, 44 percent admitted to spending too much time on media and 11 percent to “going off” on someone via text or email. Surely this is not happening among those of us who are Jesus followers!
A recent study reported in Leadership Journal suggests that a lot of us are vulnerable to “nomophobia,” the fear of being without a cell phone. Those addicted to their phones are checking them 34 times a day. Sixty-six percent of people fear being without their cell phones; among 18- to 24-year-olds it is 77 percent. Fifty-five percent of women would rather leave home without makeup, and 11 percent would rather leave home without pants.
This gets ridiculous, but the point is made. Where does this addiction fit into the list? Though I’m not proud of it, I’m pretty sure I check my phone 34 times a day. But so do you, so I’m OK with letting you in on that addiction.
What if we, as followers of Jesus, who asks that our yes means yes and our no means no, would get more transparent about our temptations and our sins. Grace would need to abound, and I for one would be good with that.
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