The Forbidden S Word

Some words are still forbidden in our western culture. A select few are bleeped from live shows, thanks to modern technology, because they are still considered inappropriate for the general populace. Certainly “adults” use those words, but they aren’t considered right for polite society.

Still other words get people fired. Anything caught on mike that might be construed as a racial slur is grounds for dismissal. Terms demeaning women or homosexuals are creeping into that same category.

Then there are the words no one will say, not publicly anyway. And no, sex is not one of them. Quite the opposite. When once sex was considered private, something not to be discussed in mixed company, now sex and all its parts are fair game, not only for discussion but for comedic source material.

So what is this forbidden S word, if not sex?


No one wants to talk about sin in public. You won’t hear sin come up on Dr. Phil or David Letterman or Saturday Night Live.

Saying that someone sins is considered judgmental, the worst kind of accusation today. Someone who is judgmental is intolerant, which is tantamount to saying he is a perpetrator of hate crimes.

Yet sin does the greatest damage to a soul, a family, a business, a community, a government. Its consequences are deep, hurtful, and lasting. Lasting. As in, eternal. Apart from the forgiveness of Christ, sin damages whatever it touches.

It’s behind terrorism, behind sex trafficking, pedophilia, first degree murder, corporate greed, government corruption, HIV/AIDS, welfare fraud — in other words, it’s behind all the problems society wants to eradicate.

But nobody wants to talk about it.

Not even Christians.

When we do, we are deemed unloving, accused of being gleeful when we point the finger at sinful behavior, and even of rejoicing at the idea that people will be condemned to hell.

How ironic. Today it’s considered more loving to let people walk off a cliff in blissful ignorance than it is to shout out warnings for them to stop and turn around.

But the culture in Jeremiah’s day was no different. When he started pronouncing the warnings God charged him with, saying that Babylon would come and capture Judah, he was accused of treason. His life was threatened on more than one occasion, and eventually he was arrested.

People even came to him and said, What are you hearing from God? When he told them, they said he was making it up. At one point a group of them accused his assistant of getting Jeremiah to say negative prophecies against them.

The real issue wasn’t Jeremiah. It was God and His word. Those people did not want to submit to God’s authority. They wanted to go their own way.

At one point, Jeremiah told them, from God, to surrender to the Babylonian king. If they would wave the white flag, they would go into captivity but they would not die.

They refused, and a year and a half later when they were under siege and were starving to the point of eating their own dung, of cannibalizing their dead, they still did not bow to God’s direction.

Their defeat was total.

The king who would not follow the word the Lord delivered by Jeremiah, witnessed the murder of all his sons, and then his own eyes were blinded. He ended his days in a Babylonian dungeon.

All the nobles, priests, officials, scribes, anyone of standing who had not been killed were carried away into exile. Shockingly, the total number of people taken was only 4,600.

Over 600,000 people had migrated from Egypt during the exodus, but instead of growing and prospering, their number peaked out in David’s rule and then began to decline.

But to drop as low as less than 5,000? Did they never think to ask God what was wrong? Did they never consider that perhaps the prophets were right?

Or had they stopped listening to the prophets? Was sin already a dirty word, and they no longer talked about such things openly? And if anyone dared to be so bold as to stand on the street and tell people to repent, perhaps those walking by would avert their eyes and hurry toward home.

After all, who would use the forbidden S word in public? For shame!

Published in: on April 12, 2012 at 6:01 pm  Comments (14)  
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  1. So good, Becky. Truth.


  2. Jeremiah lived in the time before the Holy Spirit, Rebecca. Comparing us To Jeremiah is like comparing people who have the Internet to people who only had Pony Express.

    I believe in sin. I believe that all have sinned and do sin.

    But I also believe–no. I also KNOW that Jesus is _very_ explicit when telling those of us who live in the Age Of The Indwelling how we are to approach the world.

    In the Age of the Prophets God used men like Jeremiah and Elijah to convict people of sin. Now that Jesus paid the price and closed the gap between God and humanity, the Holy Spirit–God–can dwell among us. And that spirit can convict directly.

    We are to go into all the world and preach the Good News, that Jesus triumphed over death and paid the wages of sin for us all. Once people are brought to God, the Holy Spirit takes the role of conviction. I trust that God is big enough to do that.


  3. Really good post. I mean, I was reading this thinking this is one of your best posts.

    Katherine, I’m so surprised over your take on this. Paul certainly preached against sin a lot, as did Peter, James, Jude, and, and, and….are there any NT writers who didn’t say that men were sinners in need of repentance? The wrath of God is coming upon men because they have…sinned. And we have specific lists of the sins. Would you tell Paul he was trying to take the place of the Holy Spirit?


  4. However, Katherine, and I’m not arguing that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, Paul points out that the giftings of the Spirit include prophecy, tongues and the interpretation of tongues, words of knowledge, etc. The Lord is still using present day prophets to correct, rebuke, warn, and prophesy to any and all who will listen. The Spirit appoints and fills those appointed with His words for His purpose. The office of the prophet has not been eliminated.


  5. Becky, I like your use of the experience of God’s people before the exile. There are parallels with our own day, a day of closing our ears to the Lord’s Word. This is the human way always, without His loving intervention. He must open our ears for us, and we must pray for Him to do this.


  6. I thought you were going to talk about a whole different S word— the one Harry Truman used to say before his missus made him say ‘manure’ instead.

    But as for your S word— sin is death, and not just spiritually. Folks need to have the courage to say so.


  7. Hi, Katherine, thanks for interacting with the thoughts in this post. I wasn’t specifically thinking of Christians pointing out sin to other Christians, but I do believe that’s something God calls us to. He tells us in His word to speak the truth in love.

    As Sally points out, the New Testament writers all included warning, admonition, reproach, rebuke, didactic counsel directing believers away from sin.

    I certainly agree that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin, however. But I don’t think He’s limited in how He can do that. Whether He takes the direct Word of God and pierces someone’s heart with the truth, or a song, a blog post, a novel, a person’s Godly life, a sermon, a private conversation, a magazine article, a TV program, etc. is really up to Him.

    I just don’t see anywhere in Scriptures that Christians are to remain silent about Mankind’s true condition and need of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf to restore the lost relationship with God which our sin enacted.

    You mentioned that we are to make disciples, and clearly this is what God assigned us to do. I think part of that responsibility is being truthful about life and Mankind’s destiny. “How can they know unless they hear?”



  8. Sally, Nicole, thanks for the encouragement and for passing along your thoughts on the subject.

    Nicole, even for those (and there are some) who don’t think there are prophets in this day and age, it’s reasonable to believe that the Christian has an obligation to talk about sin. We know the Holy Spirit still uses His Word, so anyone who illuminates Scripture or points to it or reiterates it would seem to be speaking the truth. Of course we are to do so in love, and that’s where some people who come across as if they think they can browbeat people into heaven are in error.

    But my point is, believing in the present day ministry of prophecy certainly does negate the idea that only the Holy Spirit and not other Christians can speak into other people’s lives about the issue of sin, but I think others who understand the spiritual roles differently can still make a case to do so as well.



  9. Hm, in response to Katharine’s comment:

    How on earth are we to share the good news of Jesus paying the wages of sin if the world doesn’t KNOW what sin is any longer?

    Great post, Becky! 🙂


  10. Marie, you said, There are parallels with our own day, a day of closing our ears to the Lord’s Word. We’re told ALL scripture is inspired and profitable, so I’m like you — I see parallels all the time. I don’t see that God gave America the promises He gave to Israel or anything like that, but when He said His people were to worship Him and Him alone, but they turned their back on Him and refused to listen to the prophets He sent to warn them, I think, And He sent us the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, so we are in the same boat — we have the truth and should be obeying.

    Thanks for your thoughts.



  11. Nissa, I thought I might be throwing a curve with the title. 😉

    You’re absolutely right that we do need the courage to tell people what the Bible says about sin and the death it brings. It’s not a popular thing to do these days, but that makes it more important that we step up and speak up.



  12. Rebekah, thanks for the comment. I agree with you — if Mankind thinks sin is a societal problem, not an individual problem, then our efforts should be spent trying to change society rather than presenting the truth about a Savior who gave His life as a ransom to provide forgiveness of sin. The only way Christ’s work of redemption makes sense is if there is something we need to be redeemed from. People actually don’t believe that today. They don’t believe they are lost or hell-bound or sinful, so why would they need Christ? Some present him as a good role model, not a Savior. It’s a big difference.



  13. I promise promise promise to come back and clarify my thoughts. But right now I’ve had 5 1/2 hours sleep in 5 days. I just can’t think straight. Pardon my delay in responding and please don’t think I disregard the conversation.


  14. and in 1 Corinthians 10 we see that people of the OT were given as examples to us, because they drank from the rock, who is Christ. We are strongly warned to look at them and learn.


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