Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Social Sins v. Individual Sins, Take II

For abortion or capital execution, the weight of the burden does fall upon one person – the person that made the final decision to follow through with a certain act.

That act, however, did not exist within a vacuum – something, perhaps a series of somethings, pushed that individual into an action that they either thought was rational or okay given the circumstances. This – the social world in which we all live – is the source of what we call social sin, or the prevailing social forces that leads someone into a sinful behavior.

Baptists might say that such forces are causing people “to stumble” or to stray from their walk with God. But these forces are much more than mere individuals affecting one another – they are powerful social mechanisms that affect both the conscious and the subconscious, the public and the private persona. Christians, if they are to follow Jesus, must combat sin in both realms.

But back to the abortion example. Here’s some examples of social sins that oftentimes push individuals towards sinful behavior:

- Failure to educate people (especially young people) about birth control options, including but not limited to abstinence.

- Failure to educate people about all of the responsibility of raising and rearing a child.

- Failure to educate pregnant women about the available option of adoption.

- Inability to provide for the economic well-being of mothers and families, including health care, forcing them to believe that they cannot support another child.

- A Popular culture that teaches young people the lie that everyone is having sex but them.

These social sins contribute to the abortion decision. The social sins are also sins for which individual Christians must hold themselves partly responsible: we Christians tolerate and sustain the society which produces them.

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