Victimless sin?

I assume there are still people around who inveigh that there should be no “victimless crimes” — no legal threat if you’re “only having a little fun” or “only hurting yourself.” Well, maybe. But there are no victimless sins.

Take a look at Joshua 7

But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.
And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.
And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few.
So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.
And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.

And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.
And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:
When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.
So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.
And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD.
And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.
And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

I can hear Achan’s self-justification, because I’ve heard its echoes: “Joshua has no business poking his nose into the midst of my tent! What I do there is my own business!”

Here’s what the Church answers to that sort of individualism:

[O]ne person’s sin, whether overt or covert sin wounds the entire Body of the faithful – and for Christians adds new wounds to Christ our God!  This is the mind of the Church, and the truth of the Lord.

For those who buy the civil religion conceit that the USA is now the apple of God’s eye (or second only to the modern nation state of Israel) — those who, in other words, would apply the Old Testament directly to our common civil life — the implication surely would be, would it not, that the crime/sin distinction entirely disappears? That when Johnny is caught in bit of “solitary vice,” it’s “contrary to the peace and dignity of the State” (as criminal charges in Indiana recite)?

Make no mistake: there are people who who do apply the Old Testament to America, as when you see a billboard citing II Chronicles 7:14.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

“My people who are called by my name” was ancient Israel. That verse has at most an analogous and attenuated application to the USA (because God is still God and hasn’t changed). I didn’t watch very closely, but it seemed to me that Glenn Beck was up to this sort of civil religion thing is his big shindig a few weeks ago in Washington, DC.

But I didn’t set out to diss Glenn Beck or even the Theonomists and Reconstructionists. I leave this and the preceding four paragraphs mostly to assure any secular readers that I don’t have puritanical designs on government. (Perhaps I also should assure them that, when last I hung out with Reconstructionists, even they in their efforts to be More Rigorous than Thou weren’t arguing for capital punishment for all eighteen Old Testament capital offenses.)

Now back to my Christian readers, for whom primarily I write this entry:

The present passage discloses that the cost of private sin always is written on the great canvas of God with results seen and unseen on the welfare of the Church (1 Cor. 12:26).  Always pray: “O Lord, keep me from disobedience, that I never wound Thy People!  And when I fall into sin, lead me to flee at once to our Pastors, confess my wrong to Thee, seek Thy forgiveness and mercy, and make restitution, as and when appropriate.  Accept my confessions; correct me; stop every dread outcome of my wickedness upon my brethren within the Body of Christ; help me always to remember the sin of Achan and the terrible consequences of any hidden offense!”

I have never seen that prayer before today. I will make sure I see (and pray) it again often.