Monday, December 5, 2016

Sin: New and Improved

A Christian minister friend of mine commented on this picture.  He said:  “I know we are all sinners, but let’s do a little better; shall we.”  [PS…the picture referenced a current trend to wear a safety pin as a representation of the wearer’s willingness to provide a safe place for those feeling fear due to currently shifting social paradigms.]
I really like this person, but I was taken aback a bit by the comment.   I had never before seen the concept of sin being so much in the control of the sinner.  For me, sin was always framed as inextricable from the human condition; something that we couldn’t be without and still be human.  I think that’s why I always had such disdain for the concept of sin.  It was such a human construct that humans had built into their own nature to the point that it was inseparable from human nature itself.  This made religion rather pointless for me when I was younger.  As I got older, it made religion all about community, which made religion one of the more important aspects of my humanity.
This sort of “c’mon, man” response took me off guard because it made sin seem very much within our control.  “I know we are all sinners” as my friend used it here more of a confession of voluntary participation in sin, rather than an acknowledgement of the human condition of sin.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but if it is, this is a pretty radical shift for me that I’m not sure I like.
It makes me reconsider the concept of “original sin” (e.g., sin as inseparable from the human condition) as less of a pre-existing curse on humanity and more of an acknowledgement that humans are complex.  It makes the fact that you’re going to sin sort of like death and taxes:  unavoidable.  However, as my friend used it in his comment, it seemed less unavoidable. 

This is going to sound really strange, but I think I liked it better when it was unavoidable.

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