So, then, if sin is not relative and if it's true that we have a common standard for living well together (that may or may not be based on our understanding of sin), then what are we to make of an idea like the Amish riding in a car with an English when the Amish believe it best in God's eyes that they don't drive cars?
Isn't this really just letting someone else do our sinning for us and tagging along for the ride?
As I started to think about this post, I couldn't help but think of Adam and Eve. Remember their story? They are wandering in the garden, and the serpent comes along and tells Eve about this amazing fruit that she knows she's not supposed to eat. She picks some, eats it, and gives it to Adam, who also eats it. Then, when God comes along and asks what happened, Eve says it was the serpent and Adam says it was Eve and everyone is basically saying, I didn't sin; someone else sinned, and I just happened to be there and it rubbed off on me.
I didn't drive the car, God. The English was already driving it, and I just got in and went for a ride.
In our secular law, we have statutes that say that it doesn't matter. If you are sitting in a car parked on the street and your buddy runs into a house real quick and shoots the homeowner, you can be charged with murder. Just by being there. If you are hanging out on a street corner and your friend goes and robs the gas station real quick, guess what. You can be charged with the robbery. Because you were there.
I don't think God is impressed when we try to find loopholes in the doctrine of sin. And hear me - I feel like I need to say this again: this isn't an indictment of the Amish. We're not really talking about them. We're talking about us. Because we do the same thing.
We put ourselves in situations that we say we would never walk into on our own. Maybe in our regular life, we don't drink alcohol. But then the team from work decides to hit the bar after hours, and we join them. All of a sudden, we're not just drinking; we're drunk. We are doing things we know in our normal life we would never do.
Then, we come home full of remorse, and we start to tell God that we didn't really do that. It just happened because these other persons took us some place we would never go on our own. We aren't drunks. We don't have a problem with alcohol. It was just a thing that was totally out of our control.
But it wasn't. We went to the bar. We put ourselves there. It was no one's fault but our own. Still, we say that we "had" to go because our reputation at work or our eligibility for a promotion or whatever depended on it.
And therein lies our other justification: it was "necessary."
Back to the Amish, just for example. They don't believe they should have telephones, but some of them have telephones in case of emergency. They don't believe they should have telephones or be connected to the world in certain ways, but some of them have taken to carrying cell phones because it is important for the way they conduct business in the English world.
In other words, they have said they "have to" have phones in some situations.
But if they were living consistently with what they say they believe, they wouldn't really be able to justify this. They don't really need phones. In case of emergency, they could simply deal with the consequences of the emergency and trust God no matter what happens, but they want the comfort of knowing they can call a rescuing human if they need to. It might slow down their business to not be able to be contacted except by showing up at their house, but they did this for centuries - the cell phone is not a necessary tool of conducting business in the English world; it just expedites the process. In other words, they've convinced themselves that "convenience" is "necessary."
Haven't we all?
We do this all the time. "It's not what I wanted to do, God, and I know it's not what You would have wanted me to do, but I 'had' to. That's just the way this world works."
Friend, it's only the way the world works if you buy into it. Believe it or not, this world doesn't work any way that we don't allow it to - or convince it to. If we decide that's not how our world works, then...it isn't. And we find a different way to do things in the world. And guess what...it still works. It might not be as easy, and it might not be as convenient, but it still works.
We need to stop being children of our first man father and mother. We have to stop saying someone or something else made us do it. They didn't. We chose it, and then we tried to justify it. And there is just no justification for doing something we know is not pleasing to God.
Even if we're not the ones driving the car.