Summary: When we allow ourselves to be inundated with sin we grow callous to its affects and to God's holiness.
“Sin City,” Genesis 19:1-29
I spent the eighth grade living in Butte, Montana. When I moved there from California most of the kids I eventually met assumed that I was a surfer because I was from California. Of course, this is a little bit like assuming that everyone from Montana is a lumberjack. I was out of place. I was from a large city in the Central Valley of California. I had never actually surfed even one time. I was in the heart of the Rocky Mountains living with only my father and grandfather, in a small town that I knew nothing about. There was a small group of boys from my grade who all lived in my neighborhood. I had met them walking in the neighborhood one afternoon. It seemed likely that I would make friends with them. I moved to Butte in late summer. School would start soon and not knowing anyone, I was hopeful about the possibility of their friendship. On the first day of school I made my way to the bus stop. It was only a few blocks away. When I arrived there I noticed a girl who was about my age standing off in the distance. She didn’t talk to anyone and was very shy. I didn’t think too much of it until we boarded the bus and sat down. Not only did she sit by herself but she did so because there were several kids who would make a fuss if she decided to sit near them. This went on day after day, for perhaps the first week and a half of the school year. I watched as this girl got picked on by these boys about her hair, her clothes from her very limited wardrobe (she wore the same outfit several days in a row), and whatever else they decided to zero in on with their cruel taunts and hateful laughter. One day I had enough. One of the boys had taken Anna’s hat off of her head and put on another boy. He squirmed to get it off as though it were somewhere contaminated. It was not the actions of these boys that angered me the most. It was my realization that I had been watching, allowing, this to take place without a as much as a word of discouragement to the boys picking on this girl.I would later find out that Anna came from a very poor family and that her father had a sever chemical dependency problem. I had hoped to make friends of these boys. I didn’t know anyone at school yet. I had been living as though I believed that their friendship was more important than what was right. That day I severed the tie with these thoughtless boys before it had a chance to grow. Very much to the surprise of these boys, I stood up to the three of them on the bus that day. I took the hat from the squirming boy. I handed it to Anna. I then told these three or four boys that they weren’t going to pick on her any more. I further described in some detail what I would do to them if they did. I am very grateful that they chose not to test my threats as I was not nearly as brave or strong a young man as I boasted to them of being! I never saw them pick on her at the bus stop or on the bus anymore that school year. I became casual friends with one of the boys later. The shock of that event may have been enough to remind them of the good training that they had received at home perhaps they didn’t want to test this unknown “surfer” from California! Whatever the case was, that experience has always stuck with me as an example of the fact that occasionally, often in fact, we find ourselves surrounded by circumstances that we did not create but that demand a response.
I wanted the friendship of these boys but the truth is that the immediately practical option of looking blindly upon the plight of this girl was not the right thing to do.
To look blindly upon sin causes us to grow callous to its true character.
It turned out that I actually had the power to stop the injustice all along. In a very plain sense, had I don’t nothing to stop it, my passivity would If I had not acted that day, early in the experience, how long would it have taken until I had grown blind to it? Would it have been weeks before I no longer noticed?
Would it have been months before I didn’t care? Would I have eventually grown so insensitive to the situation that, for the sake of their company, I would have joined those boys?