A few years ago, I wrote here about how our culture at large tends to marginalize the concept of sin by softening the terminology used to describe it. Sins become “mistakes” or “errors in judgment,” leaving the perpetrator a little less guilty in his or her own eyes.
Sadly, this societal trend has crept into the church as well. If you’re an evangelical Christian, you’ve no doubt heard a phrase like this, “I’m struggling with ____.” Within that blank is any number and manner of sins. These days, it seems, a person doesn’t sin anymore so much as they struggle with sin.
A person who lusts becomes a person who is “struggling with lust.” Someone who is proud becomes someone who is “struggling with pride.” A person who views sexually explicit material becomes one who is “struggling with pornography,” and so on and so forth.
Look closely at what has happened here: uncomfortable with facing head-on the ramifications of saying “I sinned,” the sinner chooses a different route. The guilt of having committed the sin is seemingly alleviated by couching it in the language of struggle.
There are two severe problems with this practice. The first is that Christians should be struggling with sin. It should characterize every Christian that they struggle with pornography, greed, or pride. Since few others seem to fight against these vices, Christians should be on the front lines. Struggling with sin should not be seen as something to get away from.
The second problem is that the soft edge seemingly given by these euphemisms is a lie. Restating the problem of sin doesn’t make it go away. The cross of Christ is the only remedy for sin, and to ease our guilt by wordplay is a fruitless self deception.
“If we confess our sins,” the Scriptures tell us, Christ “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We should do just that — confess it for what it is and accept his forgiveness. The sin should end and the struggle should go on.