All of us fall short at times of being the people we want to be or who God wants us to be. We call that sin. Let’s talk about how we handled our failings as Latter-day Saints and how we handle sin as we transition into a new kind of Christian faith.
How we dealt with sin in Mormonism
In the LDS culture, sin is not something to be very open and honest about. The purpose of life is to become perfect, or as close as possible, in order to receive the highest glory in heaven. So when a person does sin, it’s not acknowledged directly as sin, but something wrong or bad that you need to correct. True repentance means never committing that sin again. Sometimes a person might confide in a family member or talk to the bishop, but would not talk openly about it with friends.
[Related Topic: Christians Frontin’ – Learning to Be Real with People]
The stigma of sin
Sin is seen in the LDS community as shameful. A person shouldn’t have any wrongful desires or want to do anything that goes against the Church. Admitting you haven’t lived up to that standard is embarrassing, so the tendency is to hide any problem. A person might want to be right with God, hold their callings and attend the temple. If they want to be honest and confess, they go to the bishop. His job is to help that person get on track again, which can be a lengthy process. So it’s more likely that a person will deny a problem and shove it under the rug than own up to it.
How evangelical Christians look at sin differently
In Mormonism, the weight of failure and righteousness is on the person, and it’s an incredibly heavy weight. In the Christian church, all the focus is on Jesus, what he has done in us and how he continues to work and move in our lives. We know we’re all sinners. We talk about that openly at church. It’s not something to be ashamed of. Rather, when we stumble in sin, that can draw us closer to God and to others – if we handle it right.
[Related Topic: How Should I Handle My Sin?]
How evangelical Christians handle sin differently
In Mormonism, the tendency is to try to cover up any failings, or to deny that they exist or are a real problem. In a biblical Christian faith, we are encouraged to own up to our sin right away and get help. We can talk about it with friends, a small group leader, or a pastor. Rather than hiding it, we have reason to draw it out and put it on the table – so we can overcome it. In Mormonism, many people feel punished. In our new faith, we feel supported. We can get help because we can be open about our struggles. People can come alongside and encourage us to live up to the ideals of our heart. In Mormonism, people can often feel fearful of repercussions of sin, and of people’s judgmental attitude. Now, while it is scary to open up, and there is a legitimate sense of shame before God because of sin, the love and support we can receive from each other is incredible.
[Related Topic: Guilt and Repentance]
There are Christian churches that exhibit some of the unhealthy marks of shame and condemnation. But in a healthy Christian church, you can trust people with your confession. It won’t be punitive or judgmental, but people will come alongside you to help you become who you want to be. So keep extending trust to the people in your faith community, a bit at a time. Your experience will most likely be different than it was in Mormonism.
[Related Topic: Do I Need to Confess to Others?]
[Related Topic: How to Respond when Someone Sins]