JUNE 4, 2007
Dumb Sin Anyone?
By Pastor George Van Alstine
We have a friend who likes to get a group of us together once in a while to go to his favorite Chinatown restaurant. He sent an e-mail a few weeks ago suggesting we all join him for dim sum.*
Now, everyone probably has a word or phrase they have trouble saying or writing. âDim sumâ? is one of mine. I get the âiâ? and the âuâ? mixed up, and canât get it through my head that both syllables end with an âm,â? so the words usually come out wrong when I say them.
I began to answer the e-mail, âWeâd be glad to get together for dum sin.â? I realized my mistake and quickly corrected it. But then the idea I had accidently discovered intrigued me enough so that I returned to my original version, even adding a âbâ? to the first syllableââdumb sin.â?
Yes, thereâd been a lot of dumb sin in my life, and it wasnât very appetizing. Some people think they know how to sin cleverly, but my sin has always tended to be on the dumb side, not very well-executed and without much of a pleasure payoff.
Over the past few weeks, every time I thought about our coming meal in Chinatown, the idea of dumb sin would re-enter my mind. Gradually, I saw in the phrase another meaning. Sometimes we hear a distinction made between âsins of maliceâ? and âsins of ignorance.â? Sins of ignorance are somehow seen as more innocent and excusable than those that are premeditated, planned and calculated.
But my understanding of what the Bible teaches is that all sin is equally out-of-harmony with Godâs will. Whether we consciously intend it or not, sin is morally corrupting and separates us from God. Knowing the price we will inevitably pay in guilt, shame and suffering, we must honestly conclude that all sin is truly dumb.
So dumb sin is the only kind there is. It is both morally wrong and ignorant at the same time. We are not sheep who have innocently wandered from the Shepherdâs care; we are goats who run the other way when we hear his loving call. And thatâs dumb!
Today we finally had our dim sum get together in Chinatown. It was great. Iâm glad I got all the theological questions settled before we headed to LAâotherwise, I couldnât have enjoyed the dim sum. I might have had dumb-sindigestion.
*âDim sumâ? is a popular way of eating small, tasty Chinese treats, ranging from pastries with meats or seafood to sweet desserts, in a leisurely brunch or lunch.