Sin

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by

Proteus Ashmole

As properly understood within the Judeo-Christian tradition, sin is any act that offends God.  Sin is inherent to all people because Adam and Eve chose to freely eat of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. [1] And while the sacrament of Christian baptism washes away the sin of concupiscence—original sin—we are still inherently sinful, or so goes Christian teaching.  Atonement theology asserts that Christ was the Son of God, who died on a cross as expiation for our sins, making all right with our Father.  Christ is called the Lamb of God because Hebrews, once a year, would lay hands on an unblemished lamb and reflect on their sins, then cast the animal out into the wilds where, presumably, it was devoured by some ravenous beast.  But, unlike a helpless lamb, Christ rose from the dead on the third day; Christians celebrate this resurrection on Easter Sunday.  And so you have the basic tenets of Christianity.

Except for one problem: Sin is a loaded term, one that makes people squirm.  Sin is not a bad thing.  Yes, you heard me correctly: Sin is not in and of itself bad.  Simply put, we sin, and that is a fact, but that does not mean that people are either good or bad, wicked or angelic.  Rather, we do things to others that we would not want done to ourselves because we are people–people acting like people, and that is all.[2]  So since “sin” is such a loaded term, I would propose that “trespass” is a better word.  But even “trespass” is off the mark.  So what do we mean by “sin?”

I would assert that God is love.  Period.  It’s that simple.  You can read all the theology you like, but God is love.  Jesus himself taught that the Greatest Commandment was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” The second follows: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Mt. 22:35-40).  The moral underpinnings of the theological concept of sin are simple: When we sin, we are not loving God.  Ours is a feeling God.  We hurt or offend Him.  On the face, this seems to make sense.  It made sense to me, until I had children.

My children love me very much.  They also hurt me, but they do not hurt me because they do not love me.  They hurt me because they love me.  More specifically, they hurt me because they can.  I let them. Why?  They have a deeply meaningful relationship with me, their father.  When people are close to us, as we hopefully are with God, they hurt us.  We are vulnerable, and we make ourselves so because we love them.  We are human.  Children, clearly, are also human. They screw up, and life goes on.  I love them despite the fact that they hurt me, as I always will.  And so, by way of the God-as-Father analogy that Christians constantly employ, He, too, loves us, even when we “sin” and hurt or offend Him.  But just because we hurt or offend Him does not mean that we do not love Him, nor He us.  In short, God allows us to hurt Him.  It’s called free will, a gift he freely gives us out of love.

Truly bad people could not love, at all.  I would challenge you to find one person completely devoid of love.

And God will always love us, regardless.  He said so when He made a covenant with Noah.  He showed us this fact by humbling Himself and becoming Emmanuel, sending His beloved Son, to walk among us, God and man, hyopostasis, the Word Made Flesh.[3]

So if sin is not that big a deal, why did Jesus come at all?  Jesus, the Messiah, came out of compassion, as well as to more closely unite us to our Father.  Compassion is a side of a coin, opposite love.  Every coin has three sides (think Holy Trinity).  Yes, He died for us as expiation for sin because we are flawed, but Jesus also died for us out of love and compassion, just as a parent accepts a child’s cruelty because he or she loves that child very much and realizes that their son or daughter is just being human.

I have never, in all my fifty years, ever met an evil person, a truly malevolent person.  I new one young man who suffered from anti-social personality disorder, formerly known as sociopathy.  But even he cried.  I saw him cry.  I also thought him capable of doing some scary things, though he never did them around me.  Oh yes, I’m sure truly evil people exist out there, for there is, as the weary adage goes, always an exception.  But, with grace and protection, I hope I never meet one.

As a Roman Catholic, I have suffered crippling guilt.  No longer.  In my twenty years as a Catholic, I have come to see Christ’s Church as a beautiful gift freely given.  Without the Sacraments, I wouldn’t stand a chance.  Go ahead, call me a sinner; it’s okay: God loves me.  I know he does, especially in still moments.  “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).  So rest easy, dear reader, for, if you are a believer, know that God loves you, too.

[1]     Gen., 2:3

[2]     For more on this parallel to sin, see L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings on the “overt.”  Yes, L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology.  (There are fragments of useful information everywhere.)

[3]     Hypostasis means God and man commingled, all at once—not globules of God in a body; not half God and half man; this is a profound mystery beyond our comprehension.

Author: dropoutprofessor

A professor of English and Social Sciences that enjoys writing. Hope you enjoy my posts. All published work on this blog is my own. Pictures are used under license from Depositphotos.com or Shutterstock.com, unless otherwise noted.

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