Our Silence About Animal Abuse Promotes Abuse of Humans
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Our Silence About Animal Abuse Promotes Abuse of Humans
Comments by Michael Shaw - 30 Aug 2003

Hi Gregory and Others,

( I apologize... this is a bit long. It is only about 1/5 of a series of talks I gave at our church a few years back... and based on a discussion that I had intended to have with Maynard on another list but never got the chance to)

Gregory, you say that you side with James as to what sin is... Interestingly, I usually side with James as well, but not in this case... I take sin to mean "to miss the mark". To miss the mark can happen either intentionally or un-intentionally. Again, I side with Plato in believing that no one knowingly or willingly does evil, but rather we all think we are doing good. As such, one would only sin on purpose if one felt justified in doing so.... This does not mean they are right.... And, they may have heard the still small voice inside telling them it was wrong, but if they feel that there are logical reasons ( due to their situation ) for sinning, then at that particular point in time, they will sin. Yet, to them it is not a sin. They believe that they are overriding a law to serve a higher purpose... Like going to the Dentist. While pain is usually something we like to avoid, in the case of the dentist, the pain serves a higher purpose.

What I am saying, Gregory, is that I believe their are two types of sins: The first is intentional and the second is non-intentional but they are both sins... If we look at scripture we will see that this is the case.

What is Sin?

As usual, there seems to be contradictions in the bible as to what Sin is. Paul seems to be at odds with others as to what constitutes a Sin. For example; Paul says: ".... whatever is not of faith is sin." (last part of Romans 14:23 KJV) Where as the author of 1st Johns says: "...For Sin is the transgression of the law." (1st John 3:4 KJV)

So, who is right, Paul or John? Perhaps we should explore Sin a little closer.

James, the brother of Jesus, tells us,

"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (James 14:23 KJV) [note: this seems to imply that only knowingly doing wrong is a sin, however, Lev. 4 contradicts this and speaks of unintentional sins.] At first reading this passage does not confirm either of the two passages previously mentioned, however, if we read the entire book of James, we will find that his theology is more in harmony with that of the author of 1st John and not that of Paul. Where as Paul thinks Sin is not having Faith, James says that Faith is fine, however, not doing the Law is Sin, for, James says:

"...faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." (James 2:17 KJV)

"... by ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." (James 1:22 KJV)

"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10 KJV)

Referring to people who say that FAITH alone is righteousness, in other words, those who JUST BELIEVE, James says the following:

"Thou believest that there is one God: thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." (James 2:19)

James is saying that, though it is good to believe, belief alone is not enough... In fact, James seems to indicate that there is not much difference between a "faith believer" and a "devil". Indeed, James points out that the devils not only believe, but also tremble. It is hard to say, but it would appear that, according to James, the devil's trembling at the knowledge of God, puts the "devil" higher than a human who simply has "faith".

James is not arguing that one does not need FAITH, rather, he is pointing out, that FAITH without works is "absolutely nothing", it is dead!

James gives two examples: (1) "If a brother or a sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So, faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2:15-17 NAB) (2) "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect." (James 2:21&22 KJV)

As we have just seen, WORKS is what is important. With out WORKS, faith is dead and it is WORKS that make faith perfect. THUS, at this point, I would argue that, according to James, as with John; "SIN is not doing WORKS" whereas, according to Paul; SIN is not having FAITH." But, is there more from Paul that could clarify this? Yes!

Paul or Pauline Christianity did not teach Pure FAITH ALONE. In 1st Timothy, (not actually thought to be written by Paul, but at least in the Pauline tradition, we read: "But if any provideth not for his own, especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (1st Timothy 5:8) The real problem is one of cognition. Paul seems to have a problem with the word LAW. To Paul, it would seem that the word LAW is a designation of the Old Mosaic LAW only. Paul wants to polarize the New Way of Living in Christ over and against the Old Mosaic LAW. For certainly Paul does not want us to Sin or go against the LAW, for he says: "What then? Should we sin because we are not under LAW but under GRACE? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you "obey", either SIN, which leads to DEATH, or of OBEDIENCE, which leads to RIGHTEOUSNESS?" (You see, Paul does not make sense here. He says we should choose to be Obedient to Obedience. He seems unable to come up with an alternative word for LAW. The truth is, Paul wants us to behave correctly, he just seems, in this passage, to have a problem realizing that the Law teaches us how to do this.)

From this, I would suggest that the modern notion by some Christian churches that GRACE by FAITH has replaced WORKS, is wrong. Rather than Grace replacing Works, a new amended and spiritual set of Works or Commandments has been given us. For Paul says: "For I delight in the LAW of God after the inward man." (Rom. 7:23) "For we know the LAW is SPIRITUAL." (Rom. 7:14) "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be SPIRITUALLY minded is life and peace." (Rom.8:1) Here we see Paul has finally used the word LAW for which he says we should obey, but he has qualified it as "Spiritual Law" so as not to be confused with the "Old Mosaic Law".

Paul has said that God's LAWS are SPIRITUAL and the keeping of God's LAWS or to be SPIRITUAL is life and peace. It would appear that according to Paul, God did not do away with the LAW. What does Jesus say?

Jesus says, "Think not that I am come to destroy the LAW, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the LAW, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19)

Jesus is saying quite clearly that he has not come to destroy the LAW (Old Mosaic Law), but, rather, he has come to FULFILL the LAW or make it SPIRITUAL.

Scripture makes it quite clear that Jesus did FULFILL THE LAW.

Jesus says: "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." (John 17:4) Jesus says here that his mission was to teach or bring about God's desire to humanity, which all Christians know, culminates in the New Spiritual Law of the Cross. We see this in Paul's ( Pauline tradition ) letter to the Hebrews....

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)

The fulfilling of the LAW was the mission Jesus.

Many churches erroneously teach that Jesus' fulfillment of the LAW on the Cross did away with the LAW. Rather, it would appear from James, John and Paul, that Jesus came to fulfill the LAW by purging it from the Old Mosaic Format and putting it into a kinder and more loving Spiritual Format or Christian Format.

Finally, what does Jesus have to say on all this?

Jesus says: "Not every one that saith unto me, 'Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21) Hence, Jesus says, if we want to get to heaven we must not SIN! No doubt, to break the New Spiritual Law is SIN, for even Paul says: "He that despised Moses' LAW died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite the Spirit of Grace." (Hebrews 10:28 & 29)

Thus, to me, the conclusion seems to be: SIN is the NOT DOING of Good Works or the DOING of something that goes against the Law... whether it be intentional or not... The result of Sin is Death. Thus, Salvation saves us from the results of Sin which is death. Since we have already sinned, it can not save us from doing our previous sins, but it can save us from the consequence of those sins and make it as though we had not sinned in the first place.

The consequence of SIN is DEATH. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:12 & 6:23) "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1st Cor. 22: 15&16)

It would seem from the above that the first SIN was that of ADAM, however, Paul states in another passage, that it was EVE and NOT ADAM. Should we be looking for a female Saviour? "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." (1st Timothy 2:14) Also, "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." (2nd Cor. 11:3). This second passage in 2nd Cor. is not as clear as that in 1st Timothy, however, Timothy can stand on its own and have Eve as the sourse of death through sin... So, it would appear that we have passages that condemn both Adam and Eve..

Faith it would seem, according to the Bible, is simply a stepping stone to WORKS. If we have faith that what God commands of us is right, then we, if we truly believe, will proceed to carry out these commands of God. This is how I read the above passages in total, however, I think this is only part of the picture, but I don't have time to go into the details at this point.

We seem to have concluded that SIN is disobedience to God, whether intentional or not. Now, I would like to posit that SIN is EVIL. For proof of this position I offer the following Biblical proof texts:

"...but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:14) I believe that this passage points ou that, sin is the active manifestation of the evil urge "yetzer ha rah" and as such is indeed EVIL.

"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires..." (Romans 6:12)

The following are my personal conclusions regarding what Sin is, according to my interpretation of scripture:


(B) SIN is the Acted or Manifested EVIL URGE, be it in thought (1st John 3:15), word (Matthew 5:22) or deed (Romans 1:32). As such, SIN is EVIL in itself. (C) The consequence of SIN is DEATH.

Word analysis of SIN: The Greek word in the New Testament for SIN is "hamartano" and its variants; "hamartema" and "hamartia". All of these mean to MISS THE MARK. The Greek Philosophers equated this term with ignorance. In other words we missed the mark because we were ignorant of how to hit the mark. Socrates, through Plato's various writings, goes into this idea of ignorance in such books as the Protagoras.

Gregory, most importantly, if the Greek word for Sin is "hamartano" and such a word means to miss the mark and was equated with ignorance, then such Sin is done un-intentionally.

Haec conclusio foecunda est in corollariis.

Gregory... The above definition of sin is not an exhausted study, nor did I go into great detail as to the definition of SIN, however, it should suffice for my argument that sin is un-intentional and thus, all people eating meat are sinning.

Gregory or others; Do you agree with the conclusion and the definition of Sin that I have presented? If you "do not" agree, please explain how we can better understand what sin is.

I would like to look at this in more depth, as I believe such a study helps us know, not only what sin is, but why we sin.... Thus, if you disagree with my definitions or proof texts, I would be interested in your take on things.... Do let me know..

Perhaps later I will share with you my thoughts on why we sin.

Thank You.

Adiuva me, Domine, inquirentem... Amen,

Michael Shaw

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