Sin is What Sinners Do: A Few Thoughts on the Christian Concept of Sin

gluttony is a sin

Sin.

According to the Bible, sin is transgression of the law.

Let the debate begin

Which law?

Old Testament?

New Testament?

Both?

Christianity teaches that sin separates us from God.

Sin is what sent Jesus to the cross.

We are all sinners.

Born that way.

We sin because we are sinners.

Sin will ultimately land us in hell unless we trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.

Sin is the problem and Jesus is the solution.

Our hearts are black, but Jesus can make them white as snow through the blood he shed on the cross.

Without sin I wonder if Christianity would exist?

For those of us who are not Christians sin takes on a different meaning.

Since there is no God to offend and no God to give an account to, sin does not carry the force that it does with the Christian.

The list of sins, according to the Bible, according to the pastor, and according to each Christian, is quite long.

Every person has their own sin list and no list is the same.

As an unbeliever my sin list is quite short.

And it gets shorter every day.

Since I reject the Bible as an objective standard of right and wrong how do I determine my morals and ethics?

Do I need a God, religion, church, or pastor to tell me what my morals and ethics should be?

Do I need a supposedly supernatural text, the Bible, to tell me what my morals and ethics should be?

According to the Bible the entirety of the law can be summed up in two commands:

  • Love God
  • Love your fellow human beings

My morals and ethics are based on the premise that I should love my neighbor as myself.

I should treat people like I would want to be treated.

I should not do things that would harm other people.

I should value my relationships with my family and my fellow human beings to such a degree that  I live in such a way that my actions cause them no harm.

God does not enter the picture. My only concern is the relationships I have with others. When I live in a selfish, unloving, unkind, unjust manner then I am “sinning” against my fellow human beings.

My sin does not bring the judgment of God, but It does hurt the relationships I have with others. My sin causes personal loss and pain.

If what I do does not hurt others, if it does not damage my relationships with others then it is not “sin.”

This makes life much simpler for me.

I am still a “sinner”, but I am much less a “sinner” since I abandoned the Christian faith.

Losing God, the Bible, and the complex, never ending, sin list has allowed to realize, for the first time in many many years, that it is OK to be human.

After living a lifetime of denying who I am I can now be free to be Bruce. I am still finding out who I really am.

So much of my life was labeled as sin. Every thought, every word, every deed, every day, sin.

I suspect I will always have a Christian sin hangover. A lifetime of being beat over the head with an angry God, a dying Savior, and a divine rule book has left a lot of deep wounds.

Notes

I use the word sin is this post because I think Christians who read this blog with better understand what I am talking about. Please see Let’s Talk About Sin, Guilt, and Human Behavior for a better explanation of my view on “sin”.

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8 Comments

  1. Carolyn Patrick

    I view sin as strictly a biblical term. Since I do not hold any credence in the bible, I likewise have no belief in the concept of sin. I seem to recall that there were (are?) missionaries, particularly in tropical lands, who in the process of converting natives to Christianity, made it a sin to go unclothed. This was biblical?? I guess sin is whatever you think it is. I think it is nothing, or less than nothing.

    I like the idea that, since abandoning the Christian faith, you are less of a sinner than when you were in it. I am fortunate – I only had a Methodist upbringing to overcome – not nearly as filled with guilt and sin as my IFB sisters and brothers.

    Reply
  2. August Rode

    If all humans are sinners and if all sinners are human, then doesn’t that kind of mean that ‘sinner’ and ‘human’ are synonymous? And since when did anyone ever need forgiveness for being human? For being less than perfectly ethical, yes, but not for simply being human.

    Besides, I was informed by a practicing evangelical that Christians don’t in fact sin, that ‘Christians who sin’ aren’t True Christians and shouldn’t therefore be considered to be Christian at all. There really ought to be a clear rule book.

    Reply
    1. Michael Mock

      Huh. Clearly, then, I have never in my life met a Christian — and indeed, I may have misunderstood the term, in thinking that it could apply to human beings and not solely to the most rarified and ethereal of angelic beings.

      Reply
  3. Zoe

    “Sin is the problem and Jesus is the solution.

    Our hearts are black, but Jesus can make them white as snow through the blood he shed on the cross.

    Unless you are part of a legalistically spiritually abusive literalist fundamentalist church and though “white as snow” still treated like you have a black heart.

    Reply
  4. Kenneth

    Being humble is one thing, but it shouldn’t damage your self-esteem, which is how I felt when I was once a believer in this nonsensense. The freedom one feels after deconversion just goes to show how damaging Evangelism can be to your health. After all, we are all human and we should always see it that way. No one is perfect and we shouldn’t have to feel the need to be.

    Reply
  5. Kate Bartlett

    I have never understood what “Jesus died on the cross for our sins” means. It is stated as though it means something and everyone nods their heads in agreement. But it seems to me a meaningless statement. What? His death was a sacrifice to God. What kind of God wants people to be tortured on a cross for him. It’s all gobbledygook.

    Reply
    1. Kenneth

      It relates to the old testament, where they had to sacrifice lambs and other animals for God in order to be “freed” from sin. Once Jesus died on the cross, supposedly that was the ultimate sacrifice. In other words, we no longer have to slaughter animals for God because of Jesus. If you really think about it, it is kind of sick God would require us to kill other animals for him, and that he would then have to come as himself and die as himself to us but not really be dead so we no longer have to kill innocent lambs.

      Reply
  6. Kenneth

    Just wanted to add that the above comic really puts in perspective those who work in a governmental position refusing to issue marriage licenses to gays because it is against their religion. Shouldn’t fast food workers then be required to refuse food to everyone because it is a sin to eat there? Then again, why work there to begin with? Nah, let’s just cherrypick sins, it is much easier to do that….

    Reply

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