Photo by David Henry

Growing up listening to old-school preachers, I thought “sin” was a two-syllable word. I saw these larger-than-life figures with swept-back hair, fire in their eyes, pointing their fingers, and with bits of spittle in the corners of their mouths, shouting with their southern accents: “Si-in!”

Calvin Coolidge was a man of few words. One Sunday, his sick wife had to stay home while Calvin went to church. So she asked him, “Calvin, what did the preacher talk about?”

He answered, “Sin.”

Not satisfied with his abbreviated answer, she asked again, “What did he say about it?”

Calvin merely replied, “He was against it.”

I haven’t heard many sermons about sin lately, but perhaps that is because I have to listen to myself preach. It’s January, and I am planning my sermon series for the coming year. I want to emphasize the Gospel: Jesus saves! But I’m afraid most people would wonder: “Saves from what?” Sin and death, of course, but sin isn’t a topic you hear discussed in daily life. You might hear someone talk about the “sin tax” (taxes on tobacco and alcohol) or “sinfully rich desserts,” but, sadly, people don’t discuss the moral concept of sin.

Sin is all around us – in public and in private – but the discussion has been reframed as “character flaws,” “failures,” and “peccadillos.” It’s no wonder concepts such as “honor,” “character,” and “respect” have also fallen on hard times.

I believe it is time to start talking about sin – however, you pronounce it – again.

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