Sin breaks down our ability to live out purpose #2: To live in authentic community (relationships), and to multiply that community by including others.
Perhaps one of the most damning things about sin is the fact that no matter how much we feel it to be a private event and struggle, it never is. Sin–even when committed in the most secretive manner–always effects others, particularly those that love us most. The damage done to the relationship might be because they become aware of a sin that deeply wounds them. But even if loved ones don’t have an awareness of our sin, our sin causes such an inner decay that we cannot relate to them as we should. My sin causes great damage by eroding intimacy in all my relationships, especially the most key–my wife and kids. My sin has deeply altered those relationships. It has always been this way. Sin is never truly private. An individual’s sin always goes communal in its damaging of relationships.
The First Sin
The first sin affected intimacy and affection. Listen to Adam’s tone in terms of his wife. It shifts dramatically post-Fall as he blames God and passes the hot potato of responsibility straightway to Eve.
He [GOD] said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
But that is not the end of the descriptive breaking that sin brings with it.
To the woman he [GOD] said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16-24 mouseover)
And so we see the damning relational aspect of sin. Some commentators state this is a sexual/love desire for her husband. But that explanation does not make sense in our given context. Instead, I take “desire”– hqvwt in Hebrew— to mean that sin brought with it a contest of wills, of power, as Eve now tries to ursurp Adam’s leadership to gain his position. And Adam, instead of kind servant leadership, now leads with a degree of tyranny and despotism.
The Second Sin
Sin’s relational breaking effect continues, as Adam and Eve’s eldest child Cain, becomes enraged that his younger brother’s offering is accepted and his is not. The effects of sin, in this case, lead to the ultimate in relational breakdown–murder.
The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:6-9 ESV)
When I examine my sin, particularly as related to addiction, I clearly see the damage it causes my loved ones. I see it in their pain and sadness. I see it in my physical absence. I hear it in their voicing loneliness while in the midst of my “presence.” I see it in their eyes. This now haunts me (yet I do possess hope in Christ!). In the midst of living in an addictive state, I discounted this fact, self-rationalizing that my sin was contained in some kind of deep, inner compartment that didn’t have to affect my family and friends. This is one of the great myths of sin. Part of the engaging in the beautiful fight is looking clearly in the face the fact that my sin does cause relational damage. It cannot be contained. The antidote is to repent, turning again from our sin to the Gospel that in Christ, living in real, authentic relationship is possible, though no guarantee that this will come without struggle. In the classic twelve step world, this is the 8th step and 9th step. In my personal recovery, I have participated in counseling but never a Christ-centered twelve step program. I now am. I know it will be a painful yet joyful journey for my loved ones and me. Yet I am looking forward to God using it to keep me engaged and victorious in the beautiful fight and to undo the damage I have done to my most important relationships.
Lord, thank you for the hope you offer to undo this breaking and establish your purpose for me to live in healthy, transparent relationships. My flesh resists this, seeking the myth of protecting myself from emotional vulnerability and the urge to believe my sin only affects me. Shine your light clearly on this untruth and its ugliness as the enemy’s weapon. Let Truth prevail. Bring healing and empower me to daily surrender to You and to have this surrendering empower within me the passion and ability to be the husband, father and friend that I should have been. I trust this possible in Christ. Amen.