By: Tabitha Garnica
|Sin is a choice|
“For everyone has sinned; we fall short of God’s glorious standard.” ~ Romans 3:23
Something that has always troubled me about sins such as lust, anger, and jealousy is that they seem very difficult to control. How can I stop myself from being angry if that is how I feel? A feeling like anger can occur in an instant, the same as embarrassment, surprise, and fear.
During a meeting at my Catholic Campus Ministry, a priest came to answer questions about our faith, and he shed some light on the subject which really opened my eyes. He spoke about the difference between sin and truth. Sometimes feelings plague us, and they are simply the truth, and saying that we feel any differently would be lying. We must be able to differentiate between the two so that we know not to be too hard on ourselves, without rationalizing our sins.
For example, God tells us not to lust, and not to covet our neighbor’s wife. However, the truth is, God made me biologically programmed to find men attractive, just as men are programmed to find women attractive. If I see a man and find him attractive, it is simply the truth, and saying that I am not attracted to him would be a falsehood. God made me a sexual being. So when does this truth become sin? If I start imagining what it would be like to have sex with a man, or if I actually start planning to have sex with him, truth has become sin. We are not supposed to dwell on our sexual desires, or become slaves to them. God calls us to live as sexual beings, with enough control to keep ourselves pure until marriage, both physically and mentally.
Similarly, jealousy can be seen in the same way. If someone has something that I wish were mine, I am jealous. It is a fact that I want something that someone else has. But, once I start being hostile to that person, or plan to steal it away from them, it has become sin. For the sin is not in the initial feeling, but whether or not we chose to act on that feeling. God does not ask us to hide our true feelings. When someone hurts me, I feel angry. It would be irrational for me to expect those feelings to disappear in a flash. However, the sin is in not choosing to overcome anger, and dwelling on it instead.
This is where forgiveness comes in. God calls us to forgive unconditionally just as he forgives us. Does this mean if someone hurts us we are not supposed to feel anger or pain? The truth is we are emotional human beings. Forgiveness does not mean we are no longer hurt. It means we are willing to look past that pain and keep loving. When we use our anger to inflict our own personal punishments onto others, we are not forgiving. When we wish harm onto others, we are not forgiving. Yet, when we feel pain from their actions, it is still possible to forgive. God calls us to be able to differentiate actions from people. If we feel angry towards an action committed against us, we must avoid being hostile to the person who committed the action.
God made us as emotional human beings. He does not expect us to suppress our feelings in an instant. However, we are called to rise above our sinful thoughts and desires. We are called to love others without expecting anything in return. We are meant to feel anger, lust, jealousy, and hurt. However, God calls us to use these feelings to get closer to him rather than to lead us into sin. We must be able to love despite possible anger, we must be able to reserve our lust for our spouse, and we must be able to forgive not because we feel no pain, but in spite of it. May God help us resist temptation and live peacefully with our human emotions.
Copyright (c) Tabitha Garnica 2013 All Rights Reserved
- Jesus Comforting