A Day Without Sin

Several months ago, while I was still practicing law, I had an interesting conversation with a friend at my (now former) law firm: Would it be possible to go a day without sin? We quickly concluded that it would be quite difficult; there was (and is) an awful lot of sin in our daily routines.

When I had the conversation with my friend at the firm, we quickly went through a “routine workday” of sorts, listing all of the occasions of sin in our daily routines. My list at the time went something like this:

I wake up and get ready for work. I notice that my computer room is a mess because the kids have been playing in it. I get upset at the kids (sin). I hop on the train to go to work. An attractive woman in a mini skirt sits down next to me, and I notice her (sin). I arrive at work. My secretary has misplaced some important documents, for the third time. I get mad at her (sin). I get a letter from opposing counsel that completely mischaracterizes our position to the judge. I get mad at opposing counsel (sin). I call up other people on the team, and describe opposing counsel’s letter, using a few choice terms (sin).

I run up to grab lunch. Another attractive woman passes by in the cafeteria, and I notice her (sin). I read my blog; some yahoo has totally mischaracterized my post. I get annoyed at the yahoo and write a snide comment back (sin). I get a call from the partner I work for: Have I finished the subpoena? Actually, I had forgotten all about it. I say “I’m working on it, and I’ll have it to you shortly” (sin). I go get dinner from the cafeteria, which is expensed. I pick up some treats for the kids while I’m there (sin).

I’m ready to end the day, sitting figuring out my hours for submission. Did I put in four or five hours on that brief? I’m not really sure. There was a little bit of web surfing in there somewhere, but whatever. I write down that I put in five hours on the brief (sin). I arrive home late. The house is messy, and I get upset with my wife about it. (sin). I sit down to watch some TV. A movie is on with pretty women in skimpy attire, and I’m paying too much attention to them (sin).

And then I go to sleep. The next day’s routine will be largely the same.

It seemed to me then that many of my sins fell into one of a few categories: I was unduly distracted by pretty women; I was too quick to get angry at people with whom I interacted; and I engaged in little episodes of dishonesty. Could I go a full day without any of these? I wondered then if my inability to escape sin was based in part on my work environment. Law firms are a harsh workplace. Others at the firm seemed to have the same problems. This sounded like a good explanation at the time — perhaps the sins of my daily routine would evaporate if and when I left law practice.

I wish I could say that things have changed since I left practice to enter academia. Unfortunately, they really haven’t. I still find myself too quick to anger at those with whom I interact — family, friends, co-workers, students. I still find myself too quick to slide into petty lies and deceits. And I’m still far too easily distracted by women. I still find it hard to even conceive of going a day without sin. And I’m forced to admit that my problem wasn’t the law firm pressure-cooker life at all. The problem is me.

This leads me to wonder whether there is any hope for me. Am I really so weak that I’m incapable of going even ONE DAY without committing a sin? How embarrassing! And I haven’t even STARTED on the possibility of sins of omission — failure to read scriptures, to pray, to give to the poor, to do missionary work, and so on.

My friend and I dissected our daily routines and discussed the issue at some length. Eventually, the topic turned to whether we could, through careful planning, construct a day without sin. The key, we agreed, would be avoiding all opportunity for sin. With no exposure to attractive women, or to the interactions that tended to result in anger or dishonesty (frustrating co-workers, demanding bosses, etc), we thought it might be possible to pull off a day without sin.

We came up with one potential blueprint for a day without sin. The person would need to go up into the mountains, far away from all human contact. He would spend the night in a tent; in the morning, he would rise, prepare for his day, and then avoid all opportunity for sin. He would eat his food and perform any necessary tasks; otherwise, he would spend the day reading scripture to avoid the mental idleness that often seems to lead to sinful thoughts. He would have no internet, no television, no cell phone or blackberry, no contact with people. There would be no opportunity for anger, lust, or dishonesty. He would live the life of a monk, and in doing so, avoid sin for one complete day. At the end of the day, he would retire, having gone a day without sin.

My friend is a Catholic, and he did not seem particularly surprised at this idea. There is a long tradition of ascetics in the Catholic faith. As a Mormon, I was horrified. Why was it that I could only imagine a day without sin if I first mentally transformed myself into a monk? What ever happened to “in the world, not of the world”? Is that compromise really possible?

I want to believe that it’s possible. I really do. And yet, try as I may, I remain unable to honestly imagine a day without sin in my present environs. This includes my past and present jobs, as well as most other professional enviroments that I can imagine. There are simply too many opportunities to go wrong, and I have too many bad habits. And I guess that I’m fundamentally unsure how to make “in the world but not of the world” work. The only way that I can imagine a day without sin is by fleeing the world altogether.

What does this say about me? And what does this say about the sad realities of life in the modern age? I don’t know; I really don’t know, and this worries me.

Perhaps most importantly, what should I be doing about this problem? Recall the admonition that if my right eye offend me, I should pluck it out. If I truly cannot live a sin-free existence in the world — not even for a single day — then shouldn’t I want to leave the world altogether? Does this mean that I should resign my job, pack up my family, and flee to a desert island or empty mountaintop forever? And how exactly can that ascetic impulse be reconciled with the communitarian ideals of Mormonism — home teaching, missionary work, and so forth? How exactly are we supposed to navigate that Scylla and Charybdis?

I don’t know the answers to these questions; and I find the questions themselves rather frightening. Perhaps some of our readers have some thoughts on the issue. I’m really eager to see what anyone has to say about this, because frankly, I’m stumped. I don’t want to be a monk; I want to live my life; and besides, I have a vague sense (which I think is church-related) that we’re not supposed to be seeking asceticism. (Aren’t we somehow supposed to overcome our impulses to sin, rather than running away like frightened rabbits?)

But against all of that desire weighs the inexorable fact: Abandoning society altogether is the only way that I can even so much as imagine going even one day without sin.

40 comments for “A Day Without Sin

  1. Mardell
    December 12, 2005 at 2:33 am

    Wouldn’t you be able to avoid idle time by going to the temple? You could do 25 sessions or something.

    Of course, then you have to control your thoughts as you sit in the session. And if that’s a problem, then just go do baptisms for 24 hours. You may get a little waterlogged, though.

  2. marta
    December 12, 2005 at 2:43 am

    Greater love hath no man, etc., etc.. The gift Christ gives us in the atonement is not about the fact that He died for us. It is not about that one grand gesture at the end. It is about the fact that he lived for us. He gave us his life. He lived his life as a gift for us, including the teaching, the example, the suffering in the garden, the atonement and the death.

    Likewise, the atonement is not about one grand gesture at the end of our lives. It is about the multitude of daily gifts he offers which we choose to receive or not. It is about the gift of motivation to try to be kind to and patient with spouses, children, co-workers after we have yet again failed and become angry. It is about the gift of the sweet ability to forgive ourselves and others as we and they fail daily and commit whatever small or large sin. It is about the gift to continue to care when we become frustrated with ourselves. It is about the gift of faith that there is an end to which we may be able to endure. It is about a thousand other gifts offered to each according to his need.

    Of course, you are correct. We cannot live a day without sin. So here we are in the world where, by daily accepting Christ’s gifts to us (and blessedly He always knows exactly what gift we need) we can live each day making some sort of progress in our effort to be “not of the world”.

  3. Sarah
    December 12, 2005 at 4:25 am

    We may not be able to go a day without sin, but that’s not really the right goal to have anyway. Studies routinely show that goals are better acheived when they are realistic and manageable, rather than so idealistic that we are overwhelmed before we even begin.

    My stake president once said,
    “May your sins of tomorrow be less than your sins of today.”

    Now that, I can at least try for.

  4. December 12, 2005 at 4:30 am

    I have no answers, but some thoughts.

    I grew up Catholic and spent a year or so of my adult life Catholic, and during part of that time. I considered entering the religious life and being a cloistered nun, because I thought it was the only way I could ever come close to being “good.” But even in Catholicism, this is not a good enough reason. One must only enter into such a life because he feels called to it, and he must do it for the sole reason of loving God. Of course, this is the ideal and in practice, it is probably different, but my point is, that even in Catholicism, where some are set apart to be aesthetics, it is not right to just run away from the world.

    I think that escaping up into the mountains might help us to avoid sin, but it won’t make us better people. If we never go near water, we won’t drown, but we don’t become good swimmers either. The whole point of this “test” we are engaged in is to become better. To withstand sin that is all around us. Also, the three fold mission of the Church makes it clear that this life is about serving others, and we can’t do that in isolation.

    Anyway, that’s just a long way of saying what I mean: I don’t think it matters how many sins we commit. I think it matters how many times we repent.

  5. December 12, 2005 at 6:52 am

    Kaimi, one of the most interesting posts I’ve seen in a while. To me, a day without sin would be a lot like “A Day Without a Mexican”. Reality as I know it depends on sin. Without sin, I wouldn’t know what to do.

    I think the sins that come along with daily life are one of those things that the Atonement will cover, given two conditions:

    1) You want it to be different.

    2) You’re doing something to change some part of it.

  6. Barb
    December 12, 2005 at 9:08 am

    I remember having this intense desire after confession to a Catholic Priest during grade school. I was Catholic at the time and recall feeliing like I was floating on air after confession. I was a pretty normal child, but after such moments, I felt very pius. I wanted to be able to go to the confession the next time and say, “Father since my last visit, I have not sinned.” That never happened then, and in mortaility I doubt that I will ever live a sinless day. It is just beyond our nature. We need forgiveness every day. As my Protestant grandma used to say according to my mom, “If someone were perfect, they would be an angel in heaven.”

  7. Matt Evans
    December 12, 2005 at 9:13 am


    I’d think your daily routine overlooked the most of the sins of omission. On our routine days we don’t pray without ceasing, don’t love God with all our heart and might or let the thoughts and affections of our hearts be placed on God, don’t love our neighbor as ourself, etc.

    Not only was Christ the only one capable of living a sinless life, he was the only one capable of living a sinless six minutes.

  8. Lamonte
    December 12, 2005 at 9:20 am

    Sarah beat me to the comment I wanted to make. To me it’s all about perspective. Am I doing better today than I did yesterday? Have I given up some of my sins or do I commit them less often? This is certainly not meant to excuse sin from our lives but that is the wonderful part of the gospel. God knows of our sinful nature and has provided a way for us to live with that sin while we struggle to make ourselves better. Living life as a monk, in my opinion, cheats the world out of whatever good influence we may have to offer – despite our sinful nature. Going to live on a mountain may protect us from committing some sins but it will do nothing to help another who might need our help or even our example no matter how questionable that example is by our own standards.

    And besides Kaimi, you introduced me to a new word (asceticism). So you’ve done good in the world. Doesn’t that make you feel a little better?

  9. Wilfried
    December 12, 2005 at 9:22 am

    Thanks for an interesting post, Kaimi. Let me just comment on your comparison with monastic life, where you state “He would live the life of a monk, and in doing so, avoid sin for one complete day.”

    1) With all due respect for monastic life (and I know some of the details of it), it can also be an escape route from reality and therefore a missed opportunity for personal growth within the world. One does not wax strong by running away from temptations, but by facing them, learning to deal with them and conquering them. Just think what opportunities for normal growth are given in our daily interactions in family and at work which you would not have in a convent.

    2) We must be careful not to become so obsessed with guilt that our behavior becomes abnormal. In monastic life, the self-inflicted punishments for even the slightest wrong thought can become aberrant.

    3) Let us not think that monastic life is devoid of tensions, problems and sins. Perhaps on the contrary, because often aggrandized by the very nature of the environment. An interesting read: Craig Harline, The burdens of sister Margaret: private lives in a seventeenth century convent (New York: Doubleday, 1994: Abridged Paperback, Yale University Press, Nota Bene Series, 2000).

  10. Jonathan Green
    December 12, 2005 at 10:35 am

    Kaimi, I think the analysis changes if you broaden the perspective to include not just “avoiding sin” but also “doing good.” If the sins you commit daily are not somewhat balanced by the good you do, then you should probably strive first of all to do more good. Fleeing the world removes most opportunities for doing good, at least of the type valued in Mormonism. (If, on the other hand, you tend to commit rather heinous sins, perhaps hying to a mountaintop would actually be best for everyone concerned.)

    Also, you might gain a few ideas from a more careful look at the full range of Catholic orders. If a cloistered life isn’t for you, how about a career as a mendicant preacher? As a law professor, perhaps you’re better suited to break new ground as the first Mormon Jesuit. Or, I’m sure you could find a lay order somewhere that would let you keep your job and family but still help diminish the sin of lust with a hair shirt or something similar.

  11. Barb
    December 12, 2005 at 10:39 am

    Being unable to interview any monks who are sworn to silence for the following opinion, I draw upon the experience of a religion teacher at my Catholic high school. She was considering becoming a nun and was in the beginning processeses. However, she was did not like how they had to confess every little sin such as not bending properly before the Virgin Mary statue, which they considered to be a sin. She did not like the absorption in sin to the minutest detail. Also, even in vows of silence, I imagine there are opportunities to sin and have ill-will towards others.

    I have had a long fascination with the Shakers. I heard a comment that their Shaker teachings of getting along with others is beneficial even when leaving the order with getting along with neighbors.

  12. gst
    December 12, 2005 at 10:48 am

    Jonathan Green, my order is Civil Litigator (Discalced).

  13. Todd Lundell
    December 12, 2005 at 11:30 am

    Kaimi, If you could actually create a life that avoided all opportunities for sin, would that really be the world in which God wants you to live? Would you really have the same opportunities for growth or the same need for reliance on God and our Savior? I doubt it.

    That you can’t think of any context in which you could go a whole day without sin simply describes the necessity of trial and temptation in this world. Although we certainly should not seek out further temptation, we also shouldn’t wish to find a context where all temptation ceases. The atonement is necessary b/c God put us in an environment where we simply cannot live a sinless life. But that environment itself was necessary for us to become more like Him. I realize there are all sorts of tensions in such statements (similar to the questions posed by the problem of evil), but those tensions only become greater when we take the possibility of sin out of the equation.

  14. Jeremy
    December 12, 2005 at 11:53 am

    If I took off to the mountains for a day to escape temptation, I hardly think that my wife, sitting at home by herself with three small boys, would consider me to have had a sinless day.

    There was a profile in Newsweek a few weeks ago about a woman who became a hermit for religious reasons, and who lives in a cabin in the woods and spends her days splitting logs, tending her garden, painting little religious icons, reading, and praying. As I read, I thought: sounds like a vacation to me, not a sacrifice.

  15. Seth Rogers
    December 12, 2005 at 11:53 am

    So far, nobody has factored in the stated need in the scriptures for constant, daily (even hourly) repentance.

    I think the advice of the aforementioned stake president to “live each day better than the last is probably helpful.” But it runs into problems since it’s not exactly realistic to expect that everyone will always improve each day.

    The whole problem with this idea of a “sinnless day” is that it springs from a paradigm of mortal experience where we all are toiling along this path toward the Tree of Life. When the last trump sounds, this paradigm asserts, those closer to the Tree will be saved and those farthest from it will be cast into the fire.

    This sort of a concept of our Father’s Plan encourages the sort of mental checklisting that underlies Kaimi’s sinnless day construct. No lustful thoughts? Check. Honestly billing my clients? Check. Anger management? Oops! Didn’t quite get that one … I need to improve on that, or I’ll be sitting on the “left hand of God for sure!”

    Well, not really. The paradigm is messed up. That’s the problem.

    Visualize the line of people working toward the Tree of Life again. Now the “last trump” sounds. Who is saved?

    Everyone who is actually looking at the Tree and working toward it, no matter where they are on the path. It is those who are looking at the building, or backing up that are not saved even if they are at the very front of the line!

    Salvation is not essentially based on outward action, but on the desires of our hearts, whether to salvation or damnation. The outward action is a side-effect of that desire (and evidence of that desire). Superficially righteous acts performed with a heart not fixed upon God profit nothing. The determining factor in your salvation is not whether you “improved today over yesterday” but where your heart is.

    So I repeat: Constant repentance is the order of the day. As Jeremiah said, all else is vanity.

  16. queuno
    December 12, 2005 at 12:19 pm

    A passing note from our EQ lesson yesterday. It was lesson 23 in the McKay book. The instructor mentioned that the title of the lesson was “Developing a Christlike Character”, NOT “Living a Christlike Life”. Of the two, developing the requisite character is infinitely easier (and yet, infinitely difficult).

  17. December 12, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    Seth, thanks for beating me to the punch: the problem is with the way Kaimi is thinking of sin, as this or that act that is sinful rather than as spiritual separation from God. I live in sin because I live separated from him. To the degree that I have the Holy Ghost, a member of the Godhead, I am not separated and, so, not in sin. But to have the Holy Ghost is to live a life that you’ve described as “constant repentance,” a life in which I continually strive to have my heart where it ought to be. Sin is the state I live in more than the acts I commit. Ultimately to repent is to live in a state of holiness, not merely to cease doing some particular act.

  18. Space Chick
    December 12, 2005 at 12:55 pm

    Kaimi reads his blog and comments back during work hours = sin

    Space Chick reads Kaimi’s post during work hours and comments as well = sin

    You guys are leading me into sin!

  19. Gina
    December 12, 2005 at 12:58 pm

    I appreciate the sentiment that sin is spiritual separation from God.

    As one who has on many occasions decided that “today I will not be frustrated or angry with my two small boys” and having generally failed by about 8:00 am, I can attest that we can not stop “sinning” by extraordinary displays of willpower.

    There has been some discussion of “doing good” as some antedote to sin, but this seems to echo the idea that there is some balance sheet where the good must outweigh the bad. We do good, in part, because it changes us. As we read the scriptures, serve others lovingly, sacrifice, pray, attend the temple, et cetera, those things can actually change our hearts if we let them so we are changed in our relationship with others. I am more aware of my children as an heritage of the Lord and less as little inconveniences. Or, mini skirts stop looking like an objectified nice set of legs and instead as belonging to a child of God. I have experienced such small changes in my life entirely through grace, and have almost uniformly failed by setting goals or willing myself to be better.

  20. Lamonte
    December 12, 2005 at 1:08 pm

    A friend of mine has a wall plaque in her hourse with this verse written by Martin Luther:

    This life, therefore, is not righteousness
    But growth in righteousness
    Not health but healing
    Not being but becoming,
    Not rest but exercise,
    We are not yet what we shall be
    But we are growing toward it.
    The process is not yet finished
    But it is going on.
    This is not the end,
    but it is the road.
    All does not yet gleam in glory
    But all is being purified.�

    I think what this says is that what is important is that we are on the right road headed in the right direction, whether or not we have arrived yet.

  21. Wilfried
    December 12, 2005 at 2:20 pm

    Jeremy (14), what great comment! Really enjoyed that sense of fun realism.

  22. Dan Richards
    December 12, 2005 at 2:55 pm


    I think I’ve had a day without sin, and you can too. All you need to do is schedule major surgery–you get prepped in the morning before you’re entirely awake, then you go under general anesthesia. When you come out of surgery and regain consciousness, the painkillers keep you in a fog for quite a while. Before you know it, 24 hours have passed and you haven’t done anything contrary to the will of God. Of course, you haven’t done anything to advance God’s work either, but it’s not really a sin of omission, because you couldn’t be expected to do anything affirmative while you’re out of commission like that. I don’t think you could make this a long-term strategy, though.

  23. Tatiana
    December 12, 2005 at 3:19 pm

    I concur with others who think a life of asceticism may not be the answer. As a diabetic who is tempted constantly to eat too many carbs, I identify with your quandary strongly. Some sins one can leave behind most easily by staying totally away from temptation. Those are the easy ones, the “training wheels”, so to speak. For instance, I can just not have any sweets in my house, and mark sweets off the list forever of things I’m allowed to eat. Other foods, though, are much harder to avoid, and avoiding food altogether is definitely not a good idea. So I have been given this great opportunity to train my will to do what’s right. When my visiting teachers bring me treats, I get to see if I’m strong enough to thank them and put the treats aside and then later on set them outside for the birds to eat. All too often, I don’t manage it.

    But I know that I can change, the atonment gives me that ability to change. I pray for assistance, then work on it daily, one thing at a time. Once we’ve taken the first step of identifying the areas we need help with, the next step is making goals, and assessing how well we’ve lived up to our goals each day. I write it down, make a written record of what I eat each day, which is a great exercise in honesty all by itself. :-)

    No matter how deeply engrained and impossible to lose a bad habit seems, it’s actually a heavy burden. It’s holding us back, keeping us down. When we let go of them, there is a feeling as of a vast liberation. A feeling of flying. And there’s no limit to the strength available to us to be able to make these changes. We have infinite strength available to draw on. All it takes is the decision to ask for help.

    Thanks for this excellent wonderful post! The battle against evil is carried on in one place and one place only, inside our own hearts. All the evil that exists in the world around us is only to help us see and recognize the things inside ourselves that we truly want to change. Then we undertake the fight in earnest. To me, that’s what it means to be a saint. It means I’m signed up for the battle, and I’ve chosen which side I’m on.

    As I leave behind some sins, I’m sure that many more that right now I don’t see or recognize, will come to my attention. (Maybe the sin of stating the obvious as though I was the first one to discover it? :-) ) I’ll never be finished working on them, for sure. But that’s what progression means. As I lose these encumberances, one by one, the average joy in the universe gradually increases, mostly my own. :-)

  24. December 12, 2005 at 3:41 pm

    Thanks for the post, Kaimi- this is something I think about regularly while in business school, which often feels like an environment designed to encourage sin.

    I always hope the situation will improve (and I will sin less often) once I graduate, but I know your post describes the reality of the situation.

    My instinict after reading your description of a possible sinless day, is that a truly sinless day might just be impossible. Or maybe its just that my camping skills would make that particular incarnation impossible.

    Wake up. Struggle to get out of my sleeping bag- get mad at the zipper (sin). Get dressed. Attempt to start a fire over which to cook breakfast. Half and hour later, get mad at pile of sticks which refuses to burn (sin). And so on.

    So for me, I try to measure progress one day at a time. Did I reach out to someone today, and lighten their burden a bit? Did I make more time for prayer and reading the scriptures? Did I apoligize for losing my temper with someone?

    Hopefully, I’ll be able to say I did a little better each day.

  25. Keith
    December 12, 2005 at 4:07 pm

    Two quick thoughts:

    About the monastic retreat from life:
    The problem with the monastic life as a life, and not simply a momentary isolation to recover oneself between oneself and God, is that we are not monastic beings. Our life with God is never totally one of isolation, and even in those private moments, the presence of others is implicit. God is a social being, in other words–as are we. My going away for a while may help, but only in so far as it then prepares me to manifest faith and repentance in real time–with others.

    About repentance:
    I don’t think we repent a sin at a time (though there are individual sins that need repentance or which need particular concentration). Repentance requires more than changing behavior with respect to a certain action or series of actions and even more than changing attitudes or feelings towards a particular sin or temptation. Rather, repentance involves repentance of a life–of my attitude, pride, will, etc., in addition to my actions–that is, repentance of the natural man I’ve put on and, to some degree, become. It’s repentance of what I’ve become in relation to who I should have and could have been in relation to God and others. Interestingly, though repentance of one sin without repenting of a whole way of life is not real repentance, it is also true that repentance of a life of sin, of the natural man, may involve or start with repenting of a particular sin. Additionaly, the outward manifestation of a life that goes right, or one that goes wrong, often has a key turning point in one particular action or decision–something that brings it to a head or moment of decision/judgement. And that moment makes inevitable the decision (agency) and then manifests what is in one’s heart, what one desires.

    So I agree that the choice of good and evil–the battle as Tatiana put it (#23)–is in the heart, as is the primary place of repentance, but that heart is not in a separate chamber, so to speak, from all the “rest” of me, including my actions. It all seems to work in concert.

  26. b bell
    December 12, 2005 at 4:24 pm

    I doubt I could even go thru the morning as a monk without committing some type of sin.

  27. Sara Steed
    December 12, 2005 at 4:59 pm

    Fortunately, we’re not required to be perfect in this lifetime. I believe it was Russel M. Nelson who give a good definition of what it means to be perfect–and in this case, we’ll equate being perfect to being sinless. It means “achieving a distant objective,” and when one compares the Greek words for perfection concerning man being perfect and God being perfect, they are different. See his talk “Perfection Pending.” Therefore, while we are expected to repent for our sins, it is the striving that justifies us. And, fortunately Heaven Father has the ability to discern what was in our hearts when we sinned. However, Joseph Smith (I believe–I don’t have any notes infront of me at the moment) also said that we shouldn’t keep on committing the same sin, repenting everyday for the same thing, thinking it’s okay to sin because we can pray about it and be forgiven at the end of the day. To wrap it up, when I feel really overwhelmed some days by the sheer mass of shortcomings that I need to work on, I think of Elder McConkie’s statement that if we’re on the right path when we leave this world, then we will never depart from it in the worlds to come. We just can’t resign ourselves to the thought that we won’t ever be perfect in this lifetime–it will, as I’m sure most of us can attest to–consume our thoughts. Instead, we should focus on those things of eternal significance, and we will be on that right path, however imperfect we may make it, that Elder McConkie talked about.

  28. December 12, 2005 at 5:46 pm

    Nice post. I remember as a kid having a Sunday School teacher telling me that we sin EVERY DAY, and it has truly haunted me. My mother heard that and insisted that we didn’t sin every day, that obviously that guy was a total idiot. (um, sin?)

    I agree with what has been said that the the ideal is not to have a sinless day, but to have a day where you are striving to do what you can to have the Spirit with you, and let Christ in on your daily life. Cheiko Okasaki has a great illustration of how we often treat Christ in our daily lives. It’s something like this:

    Imagine Christ comes to your house, and asks you to spend some time with Him. Well, of course you put him in your nicest room, because you don’t want him to see the rest of your messy house. And you start cleaning up your house, because hey, the Savior of the world is here, and He says, “Let me help you, I know all about messy houses”, and you say, “no, no, I don’t want you to see this part.” Then, as you are cleaning, your child comes in, crying because he has skinned his knee or something, and the Lord says, “Let me help you help your child. I know all about skinned knees”, and you say, “No, no, I don’t want you to see this part of my life.” Then you get caught up in all of the business of the day, making dinner, getting kids to bed, finishing up the days phone calls, whatever. All the time the Lord is standing in your nice room, telling you that He can help, because He knows all about the details of your life. You don’t let Him, because you keep hoping the details of your life will somehow conform to a better ideal of what the Savior should see. You finally crawl to Him, exhausted, saying, “I’m sorry I ignored You all day, I’ll do better tomorrow. Everything will be better tomorrow.”

    It’s not about hiding our sins or our lives or our natural man from God. It’s about including Him as we strive for a better Christ-like character, and being grateful for His Grace every time we have thoughts like, “That guy is a total idiot.”

  29. Julie M. Smith
    December 12, 2005 at 6:16 pm

    Kaimi, great post.

    And lots of good comments, too.

    It was interesting to me to see that you grouped your sins into three main categories (lust, lies, and anger) because two of those (lust and lies) have virtually no role in my life. I’m more of an anger-and-sloth girl myself. No point, really, just saying.

  30. RoAnn
    December 12, 2005 at 6:53 pm

    Even though Kaimi’s original post could be regarded as a bit negative, this has developed into a wonderful, positive thread. Great insights, thought-provoking comments, practical suggestions, and some humor, too!
    It is posts like this that keep me coming back to read Times and Seasons, even though, for various reasons, I rarely comment.
    Thanks to all of you who take the time to contribute. I think that all who read this thread will be helped along the “right path.” (Sara Steed # 27) And even if we don’t have a sinless day, we will certainly be encouraged in our efforts “as we strive for a better Christ-like character,” and be even more “grateful for His Grace.” (Heather Oman #28)

  31. Kingsley
    December 12, 2005 at 8:46 pm

    My biggest sin is drinking enormous ammounts of caffeine to counteract the sloth that I feel from too much anger, the result of telling lies which no one believes about my lust.

  32. Kingsley
    December 12, 2005 at 8:47 pm

    Oops, that should be umownnts of anger

  33. Kingsley
    December 12, 2005 at 8:48 pm

    I mean caffeine. Ok, now the anger’s setting in for real.

  34. meems
    December 13, 2005 at 12:03 am

    A day without sin: can you say “international date line”?

    Maybe the bloggernacle can try a sin-out, like the great American smoke-out. Everybody, just quit sinning for a day, okay? Maybe January (Friday) the 13th. And then we can come back and tell each other how righteous we were!

    Actually, this is quite a meaningful and beautiful post. Thank you for the many thoughts it provoked.

  35. Kaimi Wenger
    December 13, 2005 at 10:43 pm

    I’ve really liked the discussion that has come about here. Let’s see.

    I liked Jeremy’s candid admission that a monk’s life is not for a parent. Too true!

    I liked the many clarifications and explanations of what monastic life really is (and isn’t). I think I was imagining something a little different than the reality.

    I loved the discussion of what it means to be without sin, to become without sin, to become clean and pure. The idea of progression seems to dominate — I should worry less about having a single perfect sinless day, and more about my trajectory.

    Julie, I was a bit worried discussing my own shortcomings in a public forum. (I still am — this is kind of embarrassing, though I love the discussion). And I’m happy to hear that you don’t suffer from at least a few of my own issues. Hmm, but sloth? Dang, I forgot to list that one! Also, it occurred to me that I forgot to list language — which is a recurring issue with me. (My profanity usage seems to rise when I’m tinkering with computer stuff — I seriously hope that the good karma I receive from the stand-alone symposium page outweighs the bad karma from a few outbursts that that project spawned). And then there’s gossip. And so many other issues I have to deal with as well. So it looks like I didn’t even get them all, even in my depressingly long list.

    Kingsley — I feel your pain, brother, except that you left out the gossip and the profanity.

  36. dan
    December 14, 2005 at 1:45 am

    I have had a number of days with out sin, Or so I am told, I do not remember them too well, I had not yet learned to walk or talk yet.

  37. annegb
    December 14, 2005 at 5:29 pm

    I have only a few minutes at the library, but there is a story, I think I’ve shared it here. A woman decided to have a perfect day, she resolved to do everything right (we could call it a day without sin). Everything went wrong, by the end of the day, she was totally discouraged. She’d yelled, taken her frustrations out as everything went wrong. She felt like a failure.

    The next day, she decided that no matter what happened, she’d be nice. And she had a perfect day.

    I’m getting my new computer this week! It’s probably a good thing I haven’t had a computer, I would so not be ready for Christmas.

  38. Eve
    December 17, 2005 at 4:13 am

    Although I agree with the Seth and Jim about the problems inherent the “Count Your Many Sins, Name Them One by One” model, I was moved by the honesty of Kaimi’s post and by others’ forthrightness about the sins they contend with. I wish there were a way of sharing our struggles with sin more openly at church. I realize there’s a point at which disclosure becomes inappropriate, and I’m not interested in public revelations of specific sins best dealt with privately, but I often long for a greater candidness about the simple fact that we all struggle with sin.

    I think my besetting sin is the failure to love.

  39. Razorfish
    December 22, 2005 at 10:38 am

    LDS Paradox.

    Have you ever thought about the LDS paradox – the people who will be potentially the most judgemental about how you live your life will likely be LDS people that you fellowship with every week.

    The Lord instructs and admonishes his people to be careful about how they judge others…for they will likewise be judged in the same manner. In other words, if we are often judgemental about other’s weaknesses, failure to live the commandments, we can expect that same spirit of judgement from the Lord.

    Perhaps you disagree with the premise of my arguement (LDS people will judge others more than non-LDS people). It’s not because LDS people are not fundamentally great people (because they are), but rather because they have been given so many commandments, laws, and expectations, that they are expected to live to a much higher standard. “Where much is given, much is required (and expected). While I agree with this principle, the problem is that the by product of this law is an incredible amount of potential for self-righteousness (likened to the Pharisees in the Bible).

    Let me cite a few harmless examples to demonstrate the point. First, if I were at a LDS activity and were drinking a Coke, some segment of that LDS audience would consider me in some respects guilty of violating some law of health. Ironically, it is ONLY this sub-set of LDS people who would judge me, as nobody else in the world would care…or think less of me.

    Or take the example of how many kids I choose to have in life. From a non-LDS perspective, nobody cares how many kids I have in life (as long as I take care and provide for them). Yet in the Church there is a tremendous pressure to have many children, have them early, and in some LDS eyes whether I have 2 or 6 will be reflective of my spiritual commitment…ie my decision on how many kids will be a spiritual barometer somehow of my faith and commitment to the gospel. In other words, if I choose to have many kids not because I inherently want to but, because I am counseled to, or the expectation is I must, and so to be faithful I obey (although I inherently don’t want to). Again while a non-member doesn’t care a hoot about my decision, some in the LDS circles will think less of me if I choose to have 2 kids…somehow I am selfish or less faithful than if I would choose to have 6.

    Or take the case of someone who pays more than $15,000 in tithing during the year. For most people, this is a very significant and generous contribution to a charitable organization, but if they are LDS and this contribution is less than a “full tithe” they are judged and considered not worthy.

    My point is, because as a Church we have so many commandments, laws, sins of commission and ommission (not home teaching), we invariably set our selves up to be potentially a very judgemental people. I do believe that LDS people are some of the kindest, selfless people who render service and help for no other cause except for their love of God and their fellow men. However, because we have been given much (in terms of commandments and expectations), I also find some of them to be the most judgemental people you will ever meet.

    That is the paradox. How do you balance the need for commandments in defining righteous and un-righteous behavior, with the risk of using these commandments as a spiritual lens that you have to live life through which causes you to view some people as “faithful or non-faithful. Think of the Pharisees who determined the actual number of steps one could take on the Sabbath…this is clearly zealotry gone awry, but in some respects the Pharisees have crept into parts of our LDS culture that has made us some within the Church to be some of the most judgemental people out there.

    Some LDS people are able to rise above the self-righteous tendancy and truly judge in meekness, in love, and in charity. I find this extremely difficult to do, but for those who have risen to this spiritual plane, I salute them for this commendable example. The problem is I find many LDS people are stuck in the mire and constantly evaluating and judging others on their actions, decisions, and way of life and inwardly “counting the number of steps we are each taking on the Sabbath.”

    I love the Church, but I find this judgemental attitude (within some in the Church) to be a real weakspot and manifestation of the beam in our own eye as we search to remove the mote from our neighbor.



  40. Benjamin
    January 2, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    Guys. How can a person be a worshipper of Christ and a worshipper of Idols?
    Check out 1 Corinthians 6:9,10

    9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

    10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    The scriptures are clear that God expects us to live a life without sin. Sin leads to death.Eze 18:20 How can you expect to live if you’re sinning? In Romans Paul says that if you sin, you are a slave to sin, if you are a slave to sin, you are not a slave to Christ. God has given us the power to live this way, He has provided a way out of every temptation. 1Cor 10:13

    Paul testifies that he was not a sinner. Acts 23:1, 1 Thess 2:10

    I do believe God can help us live sin-free in our day-to-days. Even if you go to the woods, you’ll sin because YOU are going to the woods. You took your problem with you. But you’re supposed to be dead so Christ can live in you. If you were dead, you wouldn’t still be making wrong choices, you’ve be making the choices Christ makes as he lives through you.

    Think about this stuff. Its life-giving. What’s the point of Christianity if you can’t change? Even demons believe.

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