What happens when light is shone on the darkness?
What happens to the shadows when they are revealed?
What of the things done in darkness?
What of the power of offense?
What happens when sin is revealed?
Does it change or do we?
And which is redemption?
Are the acts redeemed?
Or the actors?
I’ve often wondered what to make of the notion that sin thrives in darkness, and when brought to the light it loses its power and dies. How does this work? In part, I agree with so many moral watchdogs that the debauchery portrayed on film and television or the internet glorifies it, but I then wonder if that portrayal has the ability to convict as well.
Or, does it only remove the power of conviction from it? Do we become so accustomed to seeing brutal violence that we think it an appropriate way to settle a dispute? Do we become so used to seeing people engaged in illicit sex acts that we are moved to behave in the same manner without consideration of the consequences?
Part of this question arises from witnessing the reaction of many to the internet’s ability to share information on a scale never imagined before: We now know what goes on in the darkened corners of society and the world. And we are appalled (some of us, anyway). But does this revelation redeem, or condemn?
While I may seem to be asking this rhetorically, I am actually not. Is the knowledge of sin that which condemns or redeems? “For by the law came the knowledge of sin.” “…then you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil.” Innocence, in a sense, can be confused with ignorance. Is the law sin? The first passage comes from Romans 3:20, and the second comes from Genesis 3:5. Sin originated from the desire to be like God, and in that sense to be like God was to know what was good and what was evil. If we follow this logic, then we come to another question: Is an act evil before we know it is?
Now, before we get too far down this path, Romans addresses this earlier than chapter 3, when it states that inherent to all humanity is the knowledge of sin. But this is because of sin. Sin begets more sin. So without the knowledge of sin, is there sin? Before we knew of a practice and disapproved of it, was it still evil? Or, if we approve of a practice, does it then become good?
There are, of course, ways of determining the sinfulness of an action: does it create in the actor love, or hate? Does it isolate, or include? Does it bring the person to God, or close them off from God? Does it resonate consonantly with the bible or dissonantly? But we are unable to determine the relation of the act to these tests unless we observe and understand the acts and actors. And this should lead us to humility and inquiry before conclusions are made that carry such dramatic weight as the label of “sin.”