What is so bad about sins of escape? After all, they provide relief from a stressful life and they don’t hurt anybody but ourselves (so we are prone to think). What is the big deal about finding solace in alcohol, pornography, or some mindless video game (I am not implying these are morally equal activities)? If they help me get done the other things that need to be done, why does God care?
Before we answer the moral question, let’s examine the intrapersonal dynamic that exists in these activities (i.e., what is going on inside of us). Life is hard. We turn to something we believe can make life better. We are seeking to unburden our soul with the activity in which we engage. We build a relationship with this activity in which we begin to view it as “reliable” and “understanding” in a way that nothing else in life is.
In light of this reflection, consider I Peter 5:17:
“[Cast] all your anxieties on him [God], because he cares for you.”
Can you begin to see how sins of escape are a betrayal of the relationship God desires with each one of us? We are doing with our sin what God is inviting us to do with him.
That is why James 4:5 says,
“Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’?”
God becomes jealous for two reasons:
- These sins of escape replace God’s role as comforter (John 14:26) and refuge (Psalm 46).
- God knows that these sins of escape cannot fulfill their promise and will hurt his beloved.
God is not jealous because we are breaking some arbitrary rule he created, but because we are breaking relationship with him. When we commit sins of escape we are giving away what God considers precious to things are dangerous, vile, or inconsequential.
Consider the good husband who considers it an honor and privilege to care for his wife when life is hard for her. How would he feel if she sought the support of unhealthy friends because she thought he didn’t care, wouldn’t understand, was unwilling to listen, or was less capable of helping than these unhealthy friends?
The most compelling appeal this husband could make would not be to the 10 Commandments or I Corinthians 15:33 (NIV) – “Bad company corrupts good character.” The most compelling appeal would be his character – “I committed to love you in good times and in bad. This is when my role as your husband should be most relevant.”
Similarly, we should realize our sins of escape offend God in the same manner. They misrepresent God as uncaring, unable to understand, and incapable of helping. By minimizing God these sins make themselves seem all the more “essential.” Soon anyone who tries to “help” is seen as “just not understanding.”
So as you finish reading this post, I would invite you to consider three questions.
- What is your sin of escape? We all have at least one we are prone towards. Many are not inherently wrong beyond the fact that they short-circuit our relationship with God.
- What would it look like to turn to God with the stresses you normally escape from? The answer should begin with prayer and continue on to your answer to question #3.
- What legitimate pleasures does God offer? Like a good husband doesn’t want to be his wife’s only friend, God is not possessively jealous. What are the relationships and activities that God wants you to have to relieve the stresses of life? Also consider the things he wants you to cut from your schedule to relieve stress and enjoy life.
Remember the key phrase of why we pray to God instead of our sin, “because he cares for you (I Peter 5:17b).”
If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Spiritual Disciplines” post which address other facets of this subject.