The Enclosure of Sin
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We are dealing with the loss of jobs, loss of life, and a threat to our economy. People are limited in their ability to congregate and entertain themselves. However, there is one other area that has not truly been touched upon…. the inevitable restrictions placed upon sin.
Allow me to define 'sin' for the purposes of this video. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, sin is 'an offense against religious or moral law.' However, religions (and their respective denominations) have varying laws. Morality, or 'a standard of right behavior,' is subjective. In fact, morality changes. For example, prostitution was largely unregulated in the United States until the early 1900s. Now it is only legal in certain counties in the state of Nevada. What happened; did we suddenly become more moral? There is talk of legalizing prostitution once again. Are we losing our morality? Oddly enough, early legislation aimed at curbing prostitution seemed to have more to do with decreasing the spread of venereal disease and halting 'white slavery' than it did with saving the souls of those involved. Morality, it appears, is conditional as well.
Instead of categorizing sin by 'good' or 'bad,' I find that a quote by Andre Gide best describes the definition of sin being used here: “Sin is whatever obscures the soul.” Therefore sin is not defined as a lack of perceived purity, but as a blockage to achieving self-actualization.
We all have our 'things.' Some of them are considered more commonplace, like drug use, sex, or alcohol. However, anything done in excess can be detrimental. For example, there are people who are addicted to exercising. On the surface, this may not appear to be so bad. However, ignoring the signals of the body and exercising to the point of injury, or feeling guilty and extremely anxious when missing a workout are regular occurrences in this case. Many of us use certain activities just to help us get through the day. Now what if those crutches were taken away? Enter sheltering in place. The days stretch out endlessly as what we long for is no longer accessible. And after a while, the pressure becomes too much to bear.
Take the married man who is having an affair. The woman he is cheating with is also married with a family. Normally they would meet once or twice a week, under the guise of attending late 'business meetings' after work. Now with the quarantine, they are working from home, or perhaps not working at all. Their activities are closely monitored by their spouses, who want them only to leave the home for grocery shopping. All of their time is now accounted for. So, the evening rendezvous have to stop. Sure, there can be random emails and text messages, but no more intimate contact. They grow more irritated with those in their households, as the affair served as the buffer that made their home lives tolerable. The arguments increase over time, and with all the flaws in their relationships laid bare, the couples begin inquiring about the cost of a divorce.
The quarantine continues to reveal more. A man addicted to street drugs now finds that the supply is growing low and the cost is going up. As a result, the prescription drugs in the medicine cabinet begin to disappear. The woman who was once able to hide her shopping addiction in the stores now has to have all of her packages delivered to her home address. The casinos are closed, so the hours spent on the computer engaging in online gambling do not go unnoticed. The food addict who used to go to several drive-throughs each afternoon and eat it all in the car, disposing of the evidence, is finding it harder to do so. Now the empty wrappers are evident in the trash can. Conversations may take place that the individual in question wasn't ready to have.
Knowing what is going on behind closed doors, in some states where most businesses were forced to close, liquor stores are considered 'essential' businesses and allowed to remain open. Without access to the usual diversions, alcohol is a relatively cheap and readily accessible way to numb the pain and temporarily replace what’s missing, though this could lead to problems as well. In the same vein, some states still allow people to gather in houses of worship. At this time more than ever, people are turning to their faith to help them make sense of what is going on, and to gather the strength to pull through it. Their beliefs stave off the gnawing feelings of despair and depression. In addition, religion, and the fear of consequences that it brings, helps to maintain order in an increasingly unstable environment.
This quarantine is exposing our demons, and forcing all of us to face them without the luxury of a barrier. We will either take this time to heal and grow, or we will implode, or explode, causing untold damage.
I am including numbers to hotlines if you are in need of assistance. Please call them.
1. On the Wagon (https://www.onthewagon.org): (855) 454-0025. Per their website, they house 'the single largest list anywhere online of free non-profit based addiction hotlines.'
2. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800) 273-8255
~ Shelby Fizer
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