Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Whatever Happened to Sin?

I have been a bit fascinated by a new study by Ellison Research that shows that a majority of Americans surveyed believe in a concept of sin, but differ widely on what activities actually can be defined as sinful. For the purposes of the study, sin was defined as "something that is almost always considered wrong, particularly from a religious or moral perspective".

So 87% of Americans believe in the concept of sin, and there were 30 behaviors that were listed for those taking the survey to give a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" regarding whether they believe that behavior (or lack of behavior) was sinful. Only 7 out of 30 were described as sinful by a majority of those taking the survey. Among those making the cut were adultery (81%), racism (74%), using hard drugs (are you kidding? - 65%), having an abortion (56%), and homosexual activity or sex (52%).

The surprise comes as we look at some of the items that were classifed as sinful by 50% or less of those surveyed - reading or watching pornography (50%), sex before marriage (45%), getting drunk (41%), and gambling (30%). You can find the results at

I think as we look at the whole notion of sin, we see that while there still may be a sense of right and wrong generally in our culture about some things, but what defines right and wrong is often up to the person. As Christians, we can have moral clarity as a result of the teachings of the Scriptures - we have a bearing for our lives. And as Christians, we can bring the world an antidote to the problem of sin through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

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