Almost Always…

The fear of the LORD leads to
   Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.  —Proverbs 19:23

The fool says in his heart,
       "There is no God."  —Psalm

Note: a number of blogs and web sites have commented on this study.  It is important for parents to understand the movement
of our culture towards a relativistic view of sin.

USA Today, on March 19th,
reported on the state of sin in  America.
In an article titled “Has the notion of sin been lost?” the Nations’ Newspaper explores what people
think about sin. The article highlights a study done by Ellison Research about
sin. For purposes of the study, sin is defined as “something that is almost
always considered wrong, particularly from a religious or moral
perspective." We will examine this definition in a moment. First, here are
some acts that Americans classify as sin. Next to each “sin” is the percentage
of those surveyed who agreed that the action really is sin.


• Adultery: 81%

• Racism: 74%

• Using "hard" drugs, such as cocaine, LSD: 65%

• Not saying anything if a cashier gives you too much change:

• Having an abortion: 56%

• Homosexual activity or sex: 52%

• Not reporting some income on your tax returns: 52%

• Reading or watching pornography: 50% 

• Gossip: 47%

• Swearing: 46%

• Sex before marriage: 45%

• Homosexual thoughts: 44%

• Sexual thoughts about someone you are not married to: 43%

• Doing things as a consumer that harm the environment: 41%

• Smoking marijuana: 41%

• Getting drunk: 41%

• Gambling: 30%

• Not attending church or religious services regularly: 18%

• Drinking any alcohol: 14%

Taken as a whole, it is striking to see “sin” discussed in
terms of human qualification. There
appears to be no awareness of God and his holiness in this list of sins. Apparently,
the fear of God is not relevant to sin.

Why is this important? It is
important because this article reflects our culture; it highlights for us the
influence of the enemy on our world. Consider the definition of sin used in
this article: something that is almost
always considered wrong, particularly from a religious or moral perspective.
wrong by whom? This definition reveals deference to man rather than reverence
for God. God does not give us categories like “almost always wrong.” The Bible
does not define sin by taking opinion polls. On the contrary, the Bible gives
us unequivocal, explicit statements about the way things are. Proverbs says
that the fear of God leads to life and contentment. What simple, clear wisdom! Our
culture craves contentment with an oxymoronic passion.

Parents, your children are
active participants in a culture that understands sin as described above! How will you define sin for them? How will
you help them recognize sin when they see it?

Defining sin with the statement
that it is something that is almost always wrong is actually foolishness. Instructing a Child’s Heart gives this
insight: “The Bible’s definition of
foolishness is concise. ‘The fool says in his heart, there is no God.’ If there
is no God, I am autonomous – a law unto myself. There is no consideration in
life more profound than,  ‘What will
please me?’” (112)

Ultimately this is the problem. “Almost
always” leaves plenty of room for what will please me. Chapter 9 of Instructing a Child’s Heart is entitled “Wisdom
and Foolishness.” The USA Today article lets you know what our culture thinks
is sin. Sin is defined in relativistic terms that can change with the whims of
man. This chapter lets you know what God thinks is sin in the lives of your
children. The section entitled “The Pursuits of Foolishness” lists specific types of sins and the
impact of these sins upon your children. Use this section to help you answer
the questions below.

  • How will you prepare your children to address this issue (and many more)?
  • How is the fear of God influencing the things you do every day?
Shepherd Press