If you ever want to hear religion discussed on a strange level, spend time in a newsroom after a story brings up a topic of a heavenly nature.

If you ever want to hear religion discussed on a strange level, spend time in a newsroom after a story brings up a topic of a heavenly nature.

That happened this week at one of my newspapers. Whether people spend all of their free time at church or never let their backsides dent a pew, they probably have an opinion on religion.

The best discussions come when people who take the Bible literally are forced to defend why they eat shellfish or don’t treat menstruating women the way the Book of Leviticus says to.

One argument came when Jesus told people that if their right arm caused them to sin, they should cut it off. Of course, most of the recorded words of Jesus were in the form of parables. They were true but He was obviously making a point symbolically rather than literally telling people to cut off their hands. He was, however, telling people to take extreme measures to avoid sin.

Another great point that might only be poised by a newsperson was that if looking upon a woman with lust is equivalent to committing adultery, why would a man not just go ahead and complete the act?

Obviously, while all sin is equally bad in God’s eyes, the earthly consequences of those sins are not. Looking upon a woman with lust may be a sin, but you can’t catch a sexually transmitted disease or get a woman pregnant that way.
Never has that been more obvious than in the creation story.

Adam and Eve lived in the last Utopia on Earth. The Garden of Eden was pure and all of their needs were met. God was there with them.

Creation’s first humans had it all. But it wasn’t enough. When tempted to eat from the one tree they were told to avoid, they gave in.

For that sin they were banished from the Garden of Eden because they had brought sin into the world.

No sin could have had worse consequences. Utopia was lost. Now a broken world is home to broken people.

Christian recording artist Brandon Heath has a song out now called Leaving Eden in which he sings about bank robberies, tsunamis and other “little pieces of evidence that we’re not quite in Eden anymore.” After each verse there is a refrain, “one more step away.”

“I think we all make our own decisions and we are all actively walking away from Eden,” Heath said about the song. “But I want to be walking in the direction of hope and not hopelessness.”

That hope came in a manger.

Because of Genesis 3 the Matthew 1 was needed to reconcile man with his maker.

That first Christmas celebration happened in the shadow of the coming cross.

Jesus’ resurrection three days later may have happened on Easter Sunday, but it was the ultimate Christmas present for a fallen people that had no other way to cover the consequences of their sin.

Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.