All unrighteousness is sin (1 Jn 5:17). God’s eyes are upon our ways. No one can hide their iniquities from him (Job 34:21-22). The fool has said in his heart there’s no God, and does abominable wrongs (Ps 53:1). Wickedness burns like fire devouring the briers and thorns that kindle the thickets in the forest (Isa 9:18). The wages of sin is death, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23). People who are guilty in one point of God’s laws are guilty in all (Jas. 2:10).
Sydney J. Harris (1917–1986), a journalist for the Chicago Daily News, later the Chicago Sun–Times, said, “Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.” For some sinning is a sort of fulfillment. They don’t have to obey any laws and feel free to act any way they wish, even if it’s wrong. But change in Christ is reassuring and uplifting.
This simple statement is often a dilemma for some people. An author and second lady of the United States, Tipper Gore (b. 1948) wrote, “The dilemma for society is how to preserve personal and family values in a nation of diverse tastes.” Diverse tastes aren’t a problem. It’s about knowing what’s right from wrong. This calls for moral leadership to influence us correctly.
At times society is faced with paradoxes. Some of these situations can be corrected, but others remain a problem. A German-born actress and singer Marlene Dietrich (1901–1992) remarked, “A king, realizing his incompetence, can either delegate or abdicate his duties. A father can do neither. If only sons can see the paradox, they would understand the dilemma.” Once a father, always a father, there can be no abdication here. Surely a father could run from his responsibilities, but he would always be responsible as the father. Whether this is a sin or not, depends on what people believe his role to be.
What about those issues people don’t feel like bringing up? Could these ever be sinful? It depends on what they are. James Levin (b. 19943), conductor and pianist said, “The invisible dilemma is that men face the very real problem that they don’t feel comfortable bringing these issues up and they tend not to be acknowledged at work.” Issues do take various forms. Some of these are insignificant, while others have to be dealt with to be resolved. If these aren’t, they tend to undermine our welfare, and lead to fractured relationships.
Nature of Issues
Some issues might be “big” like abortion that people may not fully understand. Pro-life activist and founder Randall Terry (b. 1959) wrote, “We want every human being in the womb to be safe, not have these babies be killed to solve some dilemma.” Pro-choice advocates may counter by saying, “It depends what dilemma we’re talking about.” But our main consideration should be, “Are our views and actions concerning these problems sinful?” These issues call for prayer and discernment.
In our world people may even see a dilemma between spiritual truths with those that are empirical. E.O. Wilson (b. 1929), a biologist, naturalist and author said, “The essence of humanity’s spiritual dilemma is that we evolved genetically to accept one truth and discovered another. Is there a way to erase the dilemma, to resolve the contradictions between the transcendentalists and the empirical world views?” Yet they are theologians who argue that these differing truths complement each other. Such an observation leads us to conclude our decision making may well be based on discernment.