Our sin creeps in slowly, tricking us into believing its effects are limited and its reach narrow, but its devastation is, in reality, deep and wide.
Over the weekend, I saw “Slender Man,” and throughout the entire movie, I couldn’t help but see parallels between the actions of a handful of mischievous high school kids lured by the unknown and the real-life inclination toward sin we face every day.
Like many teenagers, the ragtag group of girls at the center of the recently released horror movie are fueled by naive curiosity and a willingness to experiment with the unknown.
With the sound of bumbling footsteps and drunk thumps from the father of one high school girl in the background, a group of four teenagers sat idly in a dimly lit basement, perusing the internet for entertainment.
After losing interest in the pornography they’d been watching, one of the girls suggested they do what their male counterparts had planned to do but ultimately decided against. She wanted to summon Slender Man, a mythical, faceless humanoid whose exploits center on torturing and abducting people, particularly children.
The girls huddled around a glowing computer screen as a short video with flashes of white darting across the display at an increasing speed captivated them. At first, nothing happened: The video ended and the girls slept off their queasy stomachs and life seemed normal — for a moment.
Ultimately, without giving away too much of the movie’s storyline, each of the girls was impacted by Slender Man. The fictional villain tormented two girls, abducted one, wooed the younger sister of another, and finally captured one more.
Like sin, Slender Man was unrelenting. He wanted more. He wanted everything. And he wasn’t going to stop, as long as the girls kept feeding him.
The teenagers probably thought what they were doing — “summoning” Slender Man via an internet video — was harmless at best or narrowly impactful at worst. They never stopped to consider what they were doing could impact them forever and could hurt those they love, like a sister.
Our own personal sin has a way of doing that. It tricks us into thinking it’s consequences will be almost nonexistent and its ramifications, if any, will be known only to us. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The demise of those five young women reminded me of Galatians 6:7-8, in which the apostle Paul wrote:
Don’t be misled — you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
No matter how trivial those teenagers might have thought “summoning” Slender Man was, or how inconsequential we think our momentary lapse in wise judgment might be, its impact leaves a mark not only on us but on God and on those around us.
For Christians, we are part of one body — the body of Christ — so what we do matters. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:26, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.”
Our sins, much like the girls’ actions in “Slender Man” left a lasting impact on their community, breaks the hearts of those around us. The prophet Jeremiah wept several times, according to the Old Testament, over the transgressions of others.
In Jeremiah 8, the prophet wept over Judah’s collective sinfulness. The passage reads, in part, “My grief is beyond healing; my heart is broken. … I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief.”
And the longer we live in sin, the further we drift from God — a reality that should scare us much more than the thrills found in a 90-minute horror flick.
Paul wrote in Romans 1, “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.”
“They know God’s justice requires that those who [live in sin] deserve to die, yet they do them anyway,” Paul continued. “Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.”
“Slender Man” has a lot to teach us about our own sin. But the ending, for us, can be very different. Ultimately, after he abducted one girl who never returned, Slender Man captured another teenager. She never returned, either.
There was no way out for them. By the grace of God, we have a way out.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life,” reads John 3:16.