|The lovable, abominable snowman|
The foundational doctrine of the MethodisT church includes John Wesley’s 3 General Rules. The First General Rule states:
It is therefore, expected of all who continue therein that they shall continue to evidence their desire of salvation, First, by doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced…
After that there’s a list of evils, but before we get into Wesley’s list, take a moment and consider an implied term in the General Rule: the word abomination.
An abomination is basically a sin that really, really pisses God off.
In the book of Leviticus all of the following are official “Abominations to the Lord your God.”:
- Eating shellfish (Leviticus 11
- Marrying two sisters at the same time (18: 18)
- Adultery (18: 20)
- Child sacrifice (18: 21)
- Homosexuality (18: 22)
- Bestiality (18: 23)
In the book of Deuteronomy, abominable refers to:
- Sacrificing a blemished animal (Deuteronomy 7: 25)
- Cross-dressing (22: 5)
- Giving money made from prostitution as an offering to God (23:18). I’m not sure if that applies to money from stripping or owning a strip club, but I’d think so. Sorry, Nevada and Atlanta churches.
- Being a 1st and 3rd husband to the same woman (24: 1-4)
- Cheating people in business (25: 13-16)
- And, more than any other sin, Deuteronomy labels idolatry as an abomination. (Deuteronomy 12: 31; 13:14; 17: 2-4; 27: 15; 29: 17)
From eating shellfish to having sex with a goat: that’s a pretty wide range of abominableness. But the list gets even more diverse.
In Proverbs 16, Solomon lists 6 or 7 abominations that God HATES:
- A proud look
- A lying tongue,
- Hands that shed innocent blood,
- A heart that devises wicked plans,
- Feet that are swift in running to evil,
- A false witness who speaks lies,
- And one who sows discord among brethren. (verses 16-19)
Throughout Proverbs, also Solomon abominizes
- Dishonest business practices (11:1; 20: 10, 23)
- People with wicked minds (8: 7; 11: 20; 15: 26; 29: 27)
- Religion use to cover up wickedess (15:8, 9; 21:27; 28: 9)
- Leaders who break the law (16: 12)
- Injustice (17: 15)
Almost every Old Testament book has its own, different list of abominations. No specific act makes every single list.
Here’s the common theme:
When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. (Deuteronomy 18: 9)
Abominations are the evil most generally practiced by the nations/ culture that surrounds us.
As the Holy Spirt spoke to each Biblical author, writing in their respective cultural eras, God pointed out the most popular and common sins of their day and summed up His feeling about them in a word: ABOMINATION.
An abomination is a sin that particularly pisses God off, not because the act is extraordinary but because it is so very normal.
Abominations are the evil that is most generally practiced by the nations/ culture that surrounds us.
Few people will ever commit one of the extreme, shockingly heinous crimes that make for good movies and doctoral dissertations. Statistically, those sins aren’t a threat to the spiritual health of an entire nation. But when we accept injustice and corrupt leadership as normal it means that something is collectively wrong with us.
When we say, “Everybody lies,” “Everybody sells themselves out one way or another,” and “Who cares who or what you sleep with?” it means that those sins are culturally normal, socially acceptable. They are most generally practiced.
That’s why the list changes over time. God wasn’t trying to provide a definitive registry of the worst sins in all times and places. God was telling His people in their specific contexts, “I know that ‘everybody’s doing it,’ but that doesn’t mean you can do it.”
As Jesus said, “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16: 15)
The people of God’s kingdom are supposed to learn moral behavior from Scripture. We are specifically not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.
The Lord calls us to be different from the un-redeemed culture that surround us.
That was why shellfish and sacrifices made the early abomination lists. The rules for ritual cleanliness created a constant, physically observable cultural distinction between the people of God and everybody else.
God created a system in which His people couldn’t obey God and blend in to the culture around them because the Lord wants us to be different.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2: 9)
Sometimes we try to justify our sin by saying, “I may do _____ but at least I’m not a_____ .”
Well, good for you that you’re not a terrorist, drug addict, dope dealer, serial killer, or whatever extreme sin you put in the second blank. But it’s the first blank that God wants you to deal with because when you or I do the things that are O.K. with everyone except God, we are effectively telling God that everyone else has more sense than Him.
And that --- greatly upsets God. He thinks it’s downright abominable.
We are called to look around and honestly catalog the sins that are most generally practiced, the common evils that seem so relatively harmless, victimless, and stigma-less. Which of those sins are attractive to you? No. Not the sins you hate to see others practice. What are the sins YOU’d like to practice?
Make your list and across the top write: ABOMINATIONS.
---Anderson T. Graves II is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.
Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama; executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO); and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).
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