I’ve already blogged on the seeming unfairness of Plaxico Burress’s punishment of 2 years in prison for carrying a loaded unlicensed weapon. Most people who feel this punishment doesn’t fit the crime tend to view this crime as only hurting himself, especially since Donte Stallworth got 24 days for actually killing a pedestrian while under the influence. However, Burress’ crime was not shooting himself but carrying the weapon without permit, and one could argue that he truly did put others in danger-especially because the gun just “went off” (why the safety wasn’t on, I don’t know). Others could just as easily been shot.
Regardless where you end up on this issue-if you even care about the issue-it does remind me of the way many view sin. If sin does hurt someone, it just hurts yourself. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But sin always has communal effects, even those which never “leave” your mouth or body. When I harbor anger, I demonize my enemy and ignore a litany of his/her strengths. I also can’t love my wife well and listen to her because of my anger.
When we lie to each other, we deceive and push our family and friends away. When we lust or engage in pornography, we are one step further in the direction of alienation to our spouse and brothers/sisters in Christ. We value our spouse’s and community’s bodies and intimacy less because of our sin.
Isolation from community and the church, (the sin of “my religion is private” and I don’t need to be a part of a church) sins against others by depriving them of your spiritual gifts, encouragement, and challenge. And you are depriving others of their opportunity to serve you with their gifts.
Ultimately, sin is far more than shooting ourselves in the foot, it’s shooting others as well. It’s more like Stallworth than Burress.