Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade, and sometimes ya gotta call it a shovel, lest ye be banned from the Internet.
Sin, though, is sin, and should always be called sin. You should never call sin anything other than what it is.
Sin is sin.
Whether a fashionable term or not, sin remains the sole state that separates us from God. Nothing that separates us from God is good, no matter how sparkly the packaging or slick the label, no matter how cleverly terms and symbols are co-opted and misapplied. Sin remains sin, and sin separates us from God.
Nothing that separates us from God can be good.
As we enter the season of the shovel, we are faced with the dilemma of how to deal with in-your-face shoveldom 24/7, even in churches. There is nothing to celebrate about shoveldom; it is the same sin that has gotten whole regions destroyed in the past and it will get whole regions destroyed again. As a born-again believer, I feel sorry for those who identify as shovels. Their shoveldom is a manifestation of sin on their soul. Those with a certain type of sin manifest that sin as shoveldom. Some choose to be shovels; others are tempted and fall for shoveldom, seeing the temptation as “who they are” instead of the temptation that it is.
No-one needs to be a shovel. Even those who claim to be born that way (in sin) don’t have to stay that way (in sin). While there is yet time, sin can be overcome.
I have a passing acquaintance with shoveldom, because when I was an atheist, I identified for a time as a half-shovel. In that state, I spent a lot of time with other half- or full-shovels (or variations on those themes), and I know this: They are messed up. They are not happy souls. They constantly act out their self-hatred and fear, as I did as an atheist half-shovel. And they are addicted to sex far beyond an urge that can be explained as a natural biological function (desire). Their desire is demonically inspired. It does not come from God.
I am not trying to belittle the shovel experience. A life lived in sin and based on sin is no life; there can be no real peace and no real joy. There can be short-lived euphoria, but no real peace and no real joy.
Nor can there be real love, not in that sinful state. There can be lust; there can be obsession; there can be possessiveness; there can be infatuation; there can even be companionship and a sense of obligation and responsibility; and there can be ungodly desire that rips you apart from the inside, but there cannot be love. Love is God and God is love, and where God and his Word are not welcome, love cannot be.
The purpose of these words is to say that no matter how it’s relabeled or rebranded, sin remains sin. Sin separates us from God and therefore has no grounds to be celebrated or normalized. It is not normal for a soul to be separated from God. We were not made to be that way. That’s why Jesus came to pay the sin debt owed by Adam – to spring us from the abnormal state of sin.
That debt was paid for shovels, too, if they want to avail themselves of it. They don’t have to be shovels if they don’t want to be. Repentance is free to all, for a time, and God’s mercy extends to shovels and beyond, for a time. Shoveldom is a sin that is a manifestation of a deeper sin on a soul, but neither sin is beyond redemption.
Again – shoveldom is a sin that manifests as an indicator of other underlying sins on a soul: Deal with the underlying sins, and the other will disappear.
It did for me.
The cure for every spiritual ill isn’t to relabel or rebrand or normalize sin; the cure is always and only spiritual rebirth that results in reunification with God.
As we enter yet another season of the shovel, let us not condemn shovels, but instead pray that those who identify as such find their way to God through genuine repentance and forgiveness, while there is still time.