I was chatting with an old classmate of mine recently, and I asked him what he was doing for the holidays. He said that he was reliving the good old days of first (freshman) year; he was drinking well into the wee hours of the morning nearly every other day. I rebuked him. I said to him, now is the time for us to live responsibly. That we were at a critical time in our development, and so we couldn’t squander it away in alcohol.
When we were freshmen, we lived irresponsibly. We would get drunk every Friday night to Saturday morning, then some more from Saturday night to Sunday morning. And maybe it was fine then, but it certainly isn’t anymore. Well, my life got a little more complicated just after the first year of medical school. First, I started feeling the weight of my academics more severely, then even religious guilt reared its ugly head.
You see, I was essentially living a double life; living differently with my friends at the university, which was a long distance from home; than the way I lived with my friends at home, none of whom went to my university. I was irreligious and liberal with my friends at the university, and quite religious and conservative with my friends at home. And I did this first as an experiment with a different lifestyle; but after a year, I was done with it.
Two things were going on here, irresponsibility and sin. I was both irresponsible and sinful. And now that I am twenty-five, I am more responsible. Sinful still, but responsible. I don’t get drunk quite as often, I sleep less, and I spend my time and money more responsibly. I bring this up because I have noticed quite too often that well-meaning people fail to make that distinction between what’s responsible and what’s sinful. They often mistake what is sinful for what is irresponsible and so make the erroneous conclusion that all sinful people, like myself, are irresponsible.
I come across this testimony a bit too frequently, by a person that gave their life to Christ (converted to Christianity), and it often goes like this. The person was living both sinfully and irresponsibly, and so their life was a mess. Then they had an epiphany and gave their lives to Christ. After their rehabilitation, their lives changed for the better. And all of this wouldn’t have been possible if they hadn’t converted to Christianity. After all, only God could bring about that change in a person’s life.
Duh, of course, their lives got better. They were living irresponsibly and now they are not. That doesn’t mean, however, that sin in moderation will inevitability lead you down the same path of distraction that these people were on. Getting drunk once in a while, fornication and a little dishonesty now and then, while they are all sins, do not have incredible potential to bring you misfortune. Sometimes one may be unlucky when they sin, but that’s all, bad luck. Not divine forces conspiring against you, just a bad hand.
It is when sin is done in excess that it becomes incredibly destructive. In fact, even good things done in excess can have the same destructive effects. For example, it is a thing in some Christian sects for people to pray overnight. They may go on from 9 pm to 6 am. While this is fine every now and then, say once a month, doing so weekly seems a bit irresponsible. Not to mention the numerous meetings that include but are not limited to; the Sunday service, lunch break fellowships, and mid-week services. And while I get that churches have all these meetings for the convenience of their diverse membership, some redundant youth are taking out all their time in unemployment to attend as many of these as they can. How irresponsible of them!
There is a challenge here, and I blame our upbringing for it. We were not given good reasons for good behavior in childhood. Many times, this is all we were told, bad people go to hell and have a lot of misfortune while good people go to heaven and enjoy God’s blessings. Which is total BS because nobody knows for sure what happens in the afterlife, if at all there is an afterlife, and bad people often don’t pay for their sins in this life. So why do good?
Because it is the responsible thing to do. I find the law of the land very helpful here. Unlike the Bible, and probably any other holy book, our actions or inactions are not either sinful or not but rather arguably good or bad. Drinking alcohol before the legal age is bad because one is not considered discerning enough to drink responsibly. And the most important thing about sex is that whoever is involved is consenting to it. And as a minor, you can’t really consent to it. You don’t have the understanding and emotional capacity to have sex. Not that that ever stopped teenagers from having sex, but neither did threats of misfortune and hell.
Anyway, this is my point all along. You may have been living both sinfully and irresponsibly as a Christian, but now you can live sinfully and responsibly. Your irresponsibility may have led you to much destruction, but turning your life around does not require you to stop sinning. Not that you shouldn’t stop sinning; you should if you want to, but you don’t have to. You do not have to be religious to live responsibly. You can be irreligious and lead a responsible lifestyle. After all, not all sin is irresponsible.
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