Posted by: ritagone | April 18, 2012

Something I Know About Sin

Every once in a while, you hear or read a news item that reaffirms the biblical teaching that man is sinful, terribly, awfully sinful (as if we need that reaffirmed).  This past week, there was such a story for me.  I think each one of us is struck by different stories differently, and I can’t tell you why this one rendered me speechless and amazed at how depraved and debauched humans can actually be.

It’s the story of a woman who falsely claimed to have cancer so that people would send her money.

As if that’s not bad enough, she faked cancer so that people would contribute to her wedding and reception costs.  And to her honeymoon, which wound up being in Aruba!

What she wanted more than anything was a lavish wedding reception and honeymoon.  She got it.  Her local newspaper ran a story of her “dying” wish, which helped raise more donations.  The clever lady even supplied a doctor’s letter as proof of her illness, but the doctor – who was real – denied having ever seen her as a patient.

When her new husband found out about the deceit, he divorced her and turned her into the authorities.  He moved across the country to a state as far from where this took place as possible, eager to forget the disaster that was this marriage built on fraud and deception.

In some ways, obviously, it’s not the worst story ever told.  No one lost their life, after all.  A lot of innocent people who wanted to do what was right lost some money, but then, they might have lost that money in some other way.  A man was duped.  Surely married couples dupe one another all the time, don’t they?  So why did this story disturb me so?  I’m not sure, to be honest.

I know that part of it was using an illness to defraud people of their money, relying on their compassion in the expectation that they will donate toward what is after all an extremely selfish and shallow cause.  She wanted to have a stunning wedding ceremony and lavish reception afterwards?  Well, who doesn’t?  She wanted to go on a spectacular honeymoon?  Don’t we all?  Yet most of us don’t fabricate a terminal illness – complete with doctor’s note – to pull it off.

Something about the audacity of it just plain disturbs me.  I don’t know what happened to this woman.  The incident took place well over a year ago, so I wonder if she is now languishing somewhere in the prison system, painting decorative designs on license plates or washing clothes in the steamy laundry room?  If so, there’s probably a huge waste of creativity and ingenuity going on.  Imagine if she would have channeled that design and ambition into something good, where might it have led?  A cure for cancer?  The end to war?

But then again, that’s what sin is, isn’t it?  A huge waste.  Not only is sin a combination of bad qualities, but it’s a distortion of good things as well.  It’s creativity and audacity gone bad.  It’s taking the best of what we are and polluting it to the point that it becomes unrecognizable.

And that’s the saddest part of all.

This woman threw away the best of herself and a man who loved her… for Aruba?

I’m reminded of the great scene in “A Man For All Seasons” when Thomas More confronts young Richard Rich, his betrayer, who has agreed to testify falsely against More in return for the position of Attorney General of Wales.  Quoting Scripture, More faces Rich and says, “Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world…but for Wales?”

And yet…sin makes us give our soul for even less than Wales or Aruba, and that’s the scary, sad part of it.  Satan must laugh uproariously when he conquers and destroys all that we are and could be for the enticement of so little.

No wonder it’s easy with this story to see that, to quote my husband, “sin makes you stupid.”

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