Sin Tags

Sin Tags

Author: The Rev. Dr. David Bridges, Priest
February 16, 2022

Much of Christianity is very adept at hanging “sin tags” on people. Our multi-layered religious structures nearly always become a kind of club where there are “insiders” and “outsiders”. The club has rules, and these rules, if broken, allow the club to expel or reject an offending member.

Clubs are generally careful to admit only those persons that look like them, talk like them, and most of all, believe like them. The rules are subject to change, based on the desires and goals of the leaders.

In the 1st Century, it was not the custom for Jews and Samaritans to associate or do business with each other. Jews viewed the Samaritans as “dogs” and the Samaritans viewed the Jews as thinking they were “better” than everyone else.

In The Gospel According to John, chapter 4, verses 1-30, Jesus is walking through Samaria with His disciples and they stop near the Village of Sychar, at Jacob’s Well. The disciples go into the Village to buy food for lunch. Meanwhile a Samaritan woman comes to the well with her water pot.

Jesus asks her for a drink. She is shocked that he spoke to her. During their discussion, Jesus demonstrates that he knows everything about the woman; she has had five husbands and the she is currently living with a man out of wedlock.

The woman is shocked that Jesus knows so much about her. Then the disciples come back and see Jesus talking to “that kind of woman!” The “sin tag” was applied. Notice in this story (John 4), Jesus does not chastise the woman for living with a man out of wedlock. Instead he tells her to go bring her household to see him.

The woman’s life-style was not as important as her life. Likewise, in Joshua chapter 2, we read the story of Rahab the prostitute. God saves her and her family from the destruction of the city of Jericho. Nowhere in the scripture do we read about God, or anyone else, condemning her life-style. Her faith was shown by her actions.

These kind of stories are all through the Bible, but they don’t get the same notoriety as the ones used to condemn people by the religious structures of today. Christians have usually been the people readiest to condemn others based on doctrine rather than factual biblical instructions.

 When Jesus tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:31), he doesn’t qualify the statement by saying, “except those kind of people.” In fact, the major qualification for a believer is to “believe”: “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son so that all who believe in him will never die, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

Since God made the rules; believe, love God, love your neighbor, we are obligated to love all of God’s creation, including “those kind of people.”

Blessings and Peace to You All,
Fr. David+


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