Whatever Became of Sin?

“Whatever Became of Sin?” is an intriguing title of a book worth noting. The author is not a right wing evangelical. Rather it is Karl Menninger, M.D., founder of the prestigious Menninger Clinic (psychiatric) and the Menninger Foundation.
 Menninger is a prophet and a good one. He warns us of a social sickness in our midst and diagnoses it well. There is  a long standing problem however. People since the Old Testament era tend not to believe even the best of prophets. At best they are ignored.
 Menninger quotes Dr. Daniel J. Boorstin, director of the National Museum of Science and Technology at the Smithsonian Institution regarding our current malaise: “…we have lost our sense of history….lost our traditional respect for the wisdom of ancestors and the culture of kindred nations….we haunt ourselves with the illusory ideal of some “whole nation’ which had a deep and outspoken “faith’ in its “values.’”
 In attempting to answer how this deterioration has occurred he says one word is missing from our analysis and that is “sin.”
 It is still very present and influential but unidentified. In answer to the title of his book he says sin is still prominently responsible for our situation but we have renamed and often dignified it. We no longer call it sin.
 A classic example is the circumstances involving the girl in the case of Governor Spitzer of New York. Such a person was formerly called a whore. They are sometimes called hookers. The name was derived from the group of women who followed General Hooker’s forces in the Civil War. Now they are referred to as call girls or preferably escorts.
 Menninger makes a connection between sin, guilt, and not only social ills but psychological sickness. The name of the act has changed but the consequence is still the same.
 A foreign observer of our society describes our values as being like a display window of a store in which someone has secretly gotten into at night and changed all the price tags. The valuable items have been made to appear cheap and he cheap ones given value. Our values have been inverted. The “faith” and “values” spoken of by Boorstin have been denigrated.
 Who is to blame? Menninger says the responsible person is identified by the central letter in the word “sin.” No one sins today. We appear to have officially stopped sinning about twenty-five years ago.
 The clinical mind of Dr. Menninger connects sin and guilt. He postulates that regardless of what sin is called on a personal basis it still erodes one’s emotional and psychological being. On a national scale it corrupts culture and leads to moral decay.
 Imagine a prominent political figure doing as President Lincoln did and calling on the nation “to confess our sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.”
 An Old Testament prophet said if people will do that God will “forgive their sins and heal their land.” What a novel concept! God? What ever happened to Him? Oh, yes, He has been replaced by karma, luck, good fortune, fate, and Mother Nature.