Saturday, October 18, 2014

In the service of sin

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Note: This is a companion piece to “Hell is self.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers presents in Smeagol/Gollum the saddest, most realistic portrait of sin in man. Possessing the ring for 500 years has split his personality in half:

  1. Smeagol: a remnant of his former innocent self, indulgent, weak, and usually under the sway of...

  2. Gollum: the will of the devil personified.

For a time, though, Gollum helps Frodo and Sam, seeming to put aside his desire for the ring. During that time, Sam calls Gollum belittling names like “stinker” “because that’s what he is, Mr. Frodo. There’s naught left in him but lies and deceit. It’s the ring he wants. It’s all he cares about.”

In Sam’s imagination he would not give in and be so completely dominated by sin as Gollum. There’s no coming back from the hell he’s been, so why not treat the sinner as he deserves?

Frodo, on the other hand, empathizes because, informed by his experience of the ring’s temptation, he sees the possibility of ending up that way himself. He wants to believe Gollum can be released from the captivity of his sin. He knows it’s not something you can keep at distance as Sam does. The truth has begun to dawn on him, since leaving innocence behind in the Shire, that everyone is a captive of sin.

We know how the story ends for Gollum. The ring takes him. It doesn’t take Frodo, who was no different than Gollum in the last moments. Redeeming the good from the bad is possible after all. We have cause to cling to hope.

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:10)

This man was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for his child porn collection. His physical freedom in the prime of life is forsaken. But what is that freedom in the service of spiritual corruption?

“I’d just like to say I’m sorry to the victims. What I did was wrong,” he told the court. “There is some relief that it’s out in the open and I can get help.”

There is more freedom in a prison cell, released from the torment of one’s sin, than there is outside the cell, weighed under by it.

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