Hard times in church – aren’t they the best? I was about 14, passing the sacrament in my LDS ward, laughing with my friends in front of the whole congregation (big no-no). Why? Oh I don’t know, maybe it was because we were teenagers, trying to do a “holy” thing but really the only thing that was Holy was our love for laughing with friends? I don’t really remember what triggered it, all I remember is the feeling of guilt (due to being scolded by leaders and parents) instead of complete freedom and impartial with joy. Yes, I arrive there is a time and a place for everything but I also can’t help but see why we can’t include comedy in our rites and rituals? Is it because if we indulge in the act of laughter it will produce the infamous act of irreverence that leads to sin (gasp!)?
It reminds me of the famous Tommy Boy line from the master himself, Chris Farley:
Have you watched Spanktravision? Or were you watching this funny comedian, oh what’s his name, Buddy Wackit. Hey, there’s a pretty girl over there, maybe she’s dating one of the Yankees… Richard, who was your favorite Little Rascal? Was it Alfalfa, or was it Spanky, hehehehehehe, sinner.
It’s funny how, if viewed through a comedic lens, some sins are pretty hilarious. I think this perspective can be very healthy when it comes to dealing with sin issues and others. It allows us to step back and have a perspective that takes us out of our baggage that then helps us encounter grace (a free gift of abundant love). I understand that this idea of sin has done a lot of harm to others in terms of one’s own worth and sanity, but I still believe that word plays a part in our reality.
The Bible’s definition of sin is off the mark. This is true to some extent. But, if we dig deeper, I think we could say that sin is “a misperception of oneself in reality” (more on that later). So what is the “brand”? A state of being perfect (in the sense of doing nothing wrong)? Live a perfect life without lying, stealing, cheating, killing and “spanking the monkey” (hehe)? Drum roll please…dumdumdumdumdum…NO! It’s none of that, in my opinion.
***Side note: while we’re on the subject of “spanktravision”, masturbation is definitely off the list as there was never a commandment against it in the Bible (fun little tidbit). But I get the warning. When we use it as a form of “non-relationship” pleasure without another romantic partner involved (i.e. pornography), it can lead to broken relationships (although not all the world: context is everything). Even then, that’s not what I’m referring to when it comes to sin.***
The mark permanently prevents these actions from occurring. But it is not these acts specifically. So what is it ? Well folks, the freakin brand is LOVE. Love is God and God is Jesus and Jesus said: You (we) are gods (John 10:34). Not gods in the sense of becoming what the serpent managed to do tempting Adam and Eve with (i.e. a relationship NOT based on partnering with others to create peace, love and mercy, but a relationship based on greed and selfishness) – but in the meaning of what Paul called joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17 – Authentic connection).
I don’t take away the gravity of missing the mark of love. It’s a big problem. Jesus was executed because of our denial of the importance of trusting in love. We scapegoat the victim in order to secure our violent social structures and individual egos. We choose violence instead of love. We will accuse all day long of keeping our domination systems in place. The spirit of accusation is what the Bible calls the devil.
We are all created in the image of God. It is by seeing the divine within us that we become aware of the “mark” (Theosis). THE SIN IS NOT TO TRUST THE WAY GOD SEES US: AS BELOVED! When we trust this, we change our minds and return to our true selves (aka Repentance). When we don’t, this “distrust” leads to all the consequences (war, murder, theft, cheating, environmental degradation, racism, gun violence, etc.) that prevent us from fully becoming the true human race.
When we find ourselves accusing others of fulfilling our desires for righteousness (being in the “right” position with our tribe), then we are falling into satan’s trap. Goodbye big head from there. Oh, but not so fast mate. As a participant in Christ, I believe that Jesus showed us how to free ourselves from the bondage of sin into the freedom of grace. Live a life fully lived by loving your enemies! Let’s face it. If we adopt our sense of humor, we smile at our enemies without making war with them.
This is how the world is healed from sin (which brings salvation). We come together to help the little ones. Jesus saves us from the lifeless accusatory cycle of sacred violence in the beautiful flow of shalom and forgiveness. Not just for the human race, but for the entire universe. This is where our misperception of ourselves in reality comes into play. God’s reality is the love that brings peace. This way of Jesus will bring healing to ALL nations. His Spirit is flowing through all of his creation NOW. But, for the universe to trust and participate, it is up to its participants, here and now, to represent its beautiful way.
Ultimately, according to family and close friends and even Chris Farley himself, lack of love (not the side effects of sin) is what drove Farley to an untimely death. Of course, the unhealthy lifestyle was a major factor in Farley’s overdose, but the root cause of it all was that he felt unloved. May we all find the humor in our bones and realize that we are all loved NOW rather than later. It’s all about presence (what better way to meet that than laughter?)…because life is too abundant to waste. Chris Farley’s sense of humor always brings joy to this crazy world. It is not a coincidence. Humor coincides with love. The two can’t live without each other for too long, as Mr. Farley himself said:
This notion of love is something that would be a wonderful thing. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced it, other than the love of my family. At this point, it’s something beyond my understanding. But I can imagine it, and wanting it makes me sad.