Whose sin is the worst sin?

News people are sadly accustomed to even the most overwhelming tragedy. We become calloused and cynical, to the point where the darkest of humor becomes our refuge, the tie that bonds us to each other and binds us away from the human community.

But there was no laughter of even the most cynical sort as I walked off the elevator at dawn the morning after one particular murder. The Sun’s newsroom overlooked the parking lot of a local hangout, and that’s where the previous evening’s events had begun.

According to what our reporter learned, a young woman at the bar had been invited to join two young men in their car for a toke or two of marijuana. She had been so comfortable with them that she’d left her purse at the bar—maybe with a friend, I forget now. The toke turned into a trip to their apartment, whether against her will is unclear. But the multiple rapes were undoubtedly not her idea. Nor was the binding, or the drop into the river, a section of which we could also see from the office. According to the police, the two men watched her struggle against her bonds, observed as she drowned and died.

Then, they went out to breakfast.

Animals! was the consensus in the newsroom. Death was too good for them.

“Like you,” God reminded me. Jesus told his followers that God’s standards are higher than any parent, coach, minister, or teacher has ever laid on any of us.

“You think you’re good because you haven’t murdered anyone?” he asks. “Well, have you ever been angry with anyone? Because as far as I’m concerned, it’s the same thing.”

Which means death is too good for me—and probably for you, too.

My newsroom colleagues thought that was a pretty wacked-out point-of-view.

By the way, I knew the chaplain at the jail, so I heard a little more of the murderers’ story. One of them became a Christian. The other hung himself in despair.

The choices are that stark. Life or death. Which will you choose?

Copyright © Carlene Hill Byron, 2010

2 Responses to Whose sin is the worst sin?

  1. Matt Kantrowitz says:

    I am corresponding now with a man who I knew when I was Chaplain at Maine State Prison. He had been out for a few years, but is back in prison facing 37 years to life for kidnapping , terrorizing, and rape. And yet he says he wants to give his life back to Jesus. I have to put aside my horror and revulsion toward his crimes in order to help him get back to God. Remembering that I’m a sinner too will certainly help me do that.

    • It is so hard to remember that compared to God’s perfection, my irritability looks like this man’s convicted crimes. Kind of like viewing the difference between the top of Everest and the bottom of Death Valley from the moon. You can’t see it. We like to remember how close God is as our parent, and prefer to forget how far God is from us in perfection.

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