Sin is Irrational

Sin doesn’t make sense, not in the smallest sense.

Adam and Eve were well aware of the results of their sin and yet they did it willfully. They had been told that the wages of sin is death (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 6:23). And they also understood that they would be under God’s wrath when they sinned (hence they hid from him). And so if you asked the man and his wife, “Why?” they would have appealed to their appetite, but not to their sense of logic or reasoning. Logic and reason were completely against the sin of taking the fruit that had been forbidden.

 

It is human for us to want to make sense out of the worst of human actions. Almost every time there is a public shooting, pundits begin to ask: why did he do it? People start to hope that some holy grail diary will be found that will just say everything: how they planned it, what they hoped to accomplish, and most importantly: why?

If we cannot find a reason for why they did this thing, but the evil was especially heinous we will often conclude that the person was “sick” or “disturbed.” Why do we do this? Is it because deep down we think that sin can be made sense of? It isn’t that mental health problems aren’t real, but even average people with not a modicum of medical experience will begin to give evaluations of this person. They will say things like “that person is sick,” or “what a psychopath” or “this person is obviously crazy.” There are lots of reasons for this sort of response, but I think foremost among them is a desire to separate this person from us – from our own group. There is a comfort in declaring someone else “sick.” We like to think that we would never do such a thing or that if we did it is because something broke inside of us that normally works.

But of course, all of these analyses presume something: that there are times when sin makes sense, or sin can be made sense of. There is this underlying assumption that if we only knew everything, this shooting would make sense, or we would know why this or that person left their spouse and children. The presumption is that this big stuff doesn’t make sense, but maybe the “little” sins can be made sense of – at least we can understand why someone would do those, right?

But even the “smallest” sins don’t make sense, and this is what we need to get into our heads. Sin doesn’t make sense, not in the smallest sense. If you go back to Adam and Eve and you were to look at their situation, the decision to eat the apple was just as “sick” as the wife who leaves her family so she can do meth in the trailer park with an abusive man. That first sin – “small” by our own standards today – makes as much sense as a guy shooting up a movie theatre full of people.

If sin really made sense as a cost-benefit value proposition, it would be reasonable for us to ask “why?” every time that it happens. If you had asked that woman who left her husband, in a clear-headed moment whether she thought it was a good idea to do the drug meth she would hopefully have said “no.” And if you had asked her if she wanted to lose her family she would hopefully have said “no.” And if you had asked her if she would like to never see her children again so that she could live in a meth-induced catatonic stupor while her body wasted away, she would surely have said, “Never!” If you had asked her, “do you wish to be under the wrath of Almighty God” and she were to answer rationally and truthfully she would have said, “Please no! I would never want that!” As we all would – if sin were rational

Adam and Eve were well aware of the results of their sin and yet they did it willfully. They had been told that the wages of sin is death (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 6:23). And they also understood that they would be under God’s wrath when they sinned (hence they hid from him). And so if you asked the man and his wife, “Why?” they would have appealed to their appetite, but not to their sense of logic or reasoning. Logic and reason were completely against the sin of taking the fruit that had been forbidden.

Death and separation from God are still the consequences of sin, and yet we still do it. The wrath of God against sin hasn’t gone away. It still doesn’t make sense for our belly to be our god instead of Yahweh, and yet on a daily basis we continue to make irrational decisions that are personally destructive and which incur the wrath of God. But we still do it, don’t we?

No, sin cannot be made sense of. Sin is literally irrational.

Adam Parker is a recent graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS. This article appeared on Bring the Books and is used with permission.