In this post I briefly pointed out that all sins on the Barna list could be lumped under the single umbrella of ‘self-indulgence’. And what with one of the biggest self-indulgence holidays coming up (next to Christmas, that is), I thought I’d expand a bit on what I was talking about.
If you look at the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) you can see that they all address this idea of self-indulgence in mankind. Man would make and worship whatever god he chose provided that god could be manipulated in order to indulge man’s desires, whatever they might be. Man would rather watch football or go golfing on a Sunday than sit for an hour or so in church. Children would rather indulge their own desires than obey their parents. Murder is self-indulgent in that it satisfies some desire in the murderer, whether it’s to silence a witness against, for revenge of some wrong, or for some power-kick. Adultery is self-indulgent, and I don’t think I have to explain why. Theft gives the thief something he desired yet did not want to acquire legally. Lying is self-indulgent whether it’s in order to get someone else in trouble or to cover your own misdeeds. Coveting is self-indulgent, and, as with adultery, I don’t think I have to explain why.
Now some people may argue that pride is the umbrella-sin – that everything that is sinful is based on the pride of the sinner. In fact, it’s been said that the sin for which Satan was cast from heaven was pride. But what is pride, other than indulgence of self? I think everyone – if they’d admit it – has been guilty of pride at one or two or two hundred times in their lives; in fact, it’s pride and self-indulgence which keep us from admitting our sinfulness. We indulge ourselves in believing that we’re not sinners, that we’re essentially good people, that if and when we sin it’s not our fault, and, in fact, that sin doesn’t really even exist. I can’t be sinful, we hear, because I give to the poor/help little old ladies across the street/fished the neighbor’s cat out of a tree/mow lawns for the elderly/etc., etc.
Do I hear a note of pride in that? Are you proud that you can’t be a sinner because you do all those good things? Is your self indulged by telling us that you’re a good person because you’ve done all those good things?