[gtranslate] The Hidden Effects of Sin - Eglise Catholique Saint James (Saint Jacques)

The Hidden Effects of Sin

The Hidden Effects of Sin

Why shouldn’t we sin?  What are the consequences of sin?  Chiefly, the main effect of sin is separation from God, the rupture of our relationship with Him.  God loves us and created us for intimate union with Him.  He gave us a way of life that strengthens our relationship with Him and finally leads to eternal happiness – morality.  Sin, by its nature, is any act contrary to our nature and which thus leads us away from God.  Sins are acts which, by their nature, make us incompatible for relationship with God. 

Human relationships are no different.  There are certain types of acts which destroy relationships, regardless of our intentions in doing them.  Adultery ruins the marital relationship by its nature.  Spreading lies about someone makes it impossible to have genuine intimacy with that person.  Thankfully, mercy and grace are more powerful than our sins. 

So, we know that the main effect of sin is separation from God.  But, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us are not spiritually mature enough (not holy enough) for this to be sufficient motivation for us to avoid sin.  Separation from God seems like such an abstract and spiritual idea with no relevance to my daily life full of struggles. 

This is where sin’s secondary effects come into play.  In addition to separation from God, sin also corrupts our lives and relationships with others.  Spreading lies about someone is a sin and separates us from God, but it also separates us from others in our communities.  Most obviously the person about whom we lie, but also others.  If we are known to be liars and gossipers, many people will not trust us, even if we have never hurt them by lies or gossiping.  All sin, as acts contrary to our nature and purpose for life, makes us unhappy in the long run.  A good, and sufficient, reason not to sin is to avoid the natural consequences of sin – the loneliness and lack of fulfillment which it causes. 

But sin is so perverse and corruptive, that it has consequences that we cannot predict.  When they rebelled against God, Adam and Eve knew that their relationship with Him would be ruptured, so they hid from Him.  But did they expect that their relationship with each other would be ruptured too?  In Genesis 3, the punishments that God gives to Adam and Eve for their sin are often interpreted as just God informing them about the natural consequences of their acts.  But the punishments are focused on the breaking of Adam and Eve’s shameless relationship.  Even further, their relationship with the rest of creation was broken.  Due to their rebellion against God, the soil will not yield fruit unfought, and childbirth will be extremely painful and dangerous. 

A good example in our current society of the hidden, tertiary effects of sin can be found in the connection between divorce and the environment.  A surprising effect of divorce is damage to the environment.  In divorce, the main issues are the tearing apart of a family and the breaking of marriage vows.  Well-known effects of divorce include the damage done to the children, and the higher chance of failure in any future relationships in which the divorcees engage.  But a forgotten, or unnoticed, tertiary effect of divorce is the damage it does to the environment.  Divorce takes a given number of people, a particular family, and nearly doubles the number of resources they consume. 

This same set of people will now need two homes with complete furnishings and their own sets of utility bills: water, heating, air conditioning, electricity, etc.  They now need two grocery bills.  If there are children involved, they often need two sets of clothes, toys, and educational materials.  A consequence of divorce is environmental harm from excessive consumption. 

As Christians we are supposed to practice stewardship of the environment.  Pope Francis has helpfully highlighted this during his pontificate.  The chief sin against the environment is not failing to recycle but consuming excessively.  Divorce nearly doubles what people consume.  This reveals to us the hidden effects of sin.  Our sins hurt our relationship with God, with others, and corrupts ourselves.  But there are often hidden consequences of sin that we typically fail to see. 

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash