Paul wrote, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
We don’t have God’s power or might or authority. We can’t create a universe out of nothingness. We can’t transcend time and space. We can’t create life or consciousness, only pass them along.
Chiding human beings for not being as glorious as God is mean spirited at best, hypocritical at worse.
Unless Paul wasn’t writing about God’s power or might or authority at all.
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
How can we possibly do that?!?!?
Well, let’s start by looking at those verses not in isolation, but in context.
Jesus is delivering the Sermon on the Mount; the verses immediately preceding “be…perfect” are these:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Jesus is not talking about power, Jesus is talking about love.
Love: The one thing humans can do as perfectly as God if they choose to.
Paul, when he writes of humans failing and coming short of the glory of God, is writing about that: Not humans breaking cultural taboos and traditions, but failing to love one another.
If you love others, you won’t kill them unjustly. If you love others, you won’t steal from them. If you love others, you won’t betray them. If you love others, you won’t lie to cause them trouble. If you love others, you won’t want to take what they have.
If you have to be told not to do these things, you are not perfect in love as God is.
If you avoid these things only because you fear punishment, you are not perfect in love as God is.
If you avoid these things because you seek a reward, you are not perfect in love as God is.
If you even have to think about these things, you are not perfect in love as God is.
When you love others, your instinct is to see what is best for them, what will make them happy and able to find peace.
When you love others, you can only find your own peace and happiness when you know others are free to find their peace and happiness.
Sin is not watching certain forms of entertainment or wearing certain clothes or smoking certain plants or ingesting certain compounds or eating certain foods or saying certain words or not following certain rituals.
At worse, those are just symptoms of sin.
I’ll tell you what sin is: Sin is the opposite of love.
Sin is attitude, not action.
Action can do great harm, of course, but unless the attitude motivating the action is sinful, the act itself is not.
And if the attitude is sinful, no action is necessary.
This is what Jesus was getting at when he taught about lusting in one’s heart being the same thing as adultery, or calling one’s brother a fool being the same thing as murdering him.
He wasn’t equating noticing a person’s attractiveness with sin; you can look at pretty people all day long and not sin.
Sin comes in when one stops merely appreciating the other person’s beauty and instead begins thinking of how to satisfy their desires with that person regardless of how it might hurt someone else.
If you are single and the other person is single, you’re free to see if it might be possible to build a relationship with them. If either of you is in a committed relationship and yet you still pursue them, your attitude is one of supreme disregard to the mate who is being betrayed.
That’s not love.