Friday, December 23, 2011

I don't think I believe in sin.

Or maybe I do... but in a way very different from traditional Christian ideas of it.

I don't think I believe that sex outside of marriage is a sin. But I might believe that cheating on your spouse is.

I certainly don't believe that drinking coffee or alcohol is a sin. But I might believe that abusing your body is.

I realized a while ago that I was starting to have a reaction every time I saw the word "righteous"--a snicker or a derisive snort, maybe some eye-rolling, depending on the context. I'm discovering that I kind of hate that word. Which maybe isn't fair, because it has a pretty simple definition; I guess I just can't extricate it (yet?) from the judgmental, self-congratulatory way it's used in Christendom. I think this part of the definition is the most problematic:

b : arising from an outraged sense of justice or morality<righteous indignation>

I don't find it as funny as "righteous", but I do find my eyebrows sneaking upward when I read the word "sin", too.

a : an offense against religious or moral lawb : an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible < it's a sin to waste food>
c : an often serious shortcoming : fault
a : transgression of the law of Godb : a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God

The last one seems to come closest to something I can work with, except that I get a Garden-of-Eden fallen-state kind of sense from it and that's not what I mean. Sin as any kind of action that puts you at odds with your self--that I could get behind. Heading to this Wikipedia page now to get an idea of where I should start looking for this kind of belief. Do any of you know? What do you think "sin" is, if anything?


  1. I liked that last one: that the self is estranged from God. When I think of sin I think: Does this action hurt anyone else? Does it hurt me? Does it make me feel distant from God?

    Those tend to be my distinctions. I also tend to categorize things that some people consider "commandment" into "good ideas." For example, not drinking coffee or alcohol is a good idea, and that's why we do it. Sometimes I think a margarita looks great, but I know that the reason I'm not supposed to isn't because the church is petty, it's because the principle behind the WoW is about taking care of one's body and I have deep respect for that principle. I don't like the way it's villainized either, but I can't deny that it's pretty good advice. I also don't think that having sex before marriage is a sin, but considering what many of my friends went through, also, pretty good advice.

    I had some issues with "morality" (how I hate that word) before I was married and I just couldn't believe it was as big of a sin as it was made out to be. I kept thinking about people who abuse their children or commit fraud and steal life-savings. I think the "having sex out of wedlock is next to murder" statement is a gross misinterpretation of Alma and there are several good posts on why throughout the bloggernacle.

  2. I do like the last one, Lauren, especially what you said about it. And I think I have read some of those Bloggernacle posts and I definitely agree. My husband and I had those "issues" too, when we were dating, and I wish now that we had been a little farther along in our respective faith journeys at the time, because--though things have worked out fine now--I will say that our dating relationship would have been infinitely healthier if we'd just been okay sleeping together before we were married. And I certainly wouldn't have gotten married at 23 if that had been an option.

    I like naming them "good ideas." I think that is a good idea. My thoughts about coffee and alcohol have changed almost completely in just the last few months, so that I now have a coffee once a week or so (without any guilt!) and will even have a (small) drink when we're with our friends. I do absolutely agree about taking care of our bodies, and I also feel strongly about it. For myself, I have discovered that caffeine has zero effect on my body, which I assume is because I've been taking Excedrin regularly for ten or fifteen years now for my chronic headaches, and there's as much caffeine in two pills as there is in a cup of coffee. I love coffee-flavored things and have been dying to drink it for years, and finally I realized that the spirit of the law is more important to me than the letter of it. I absolutely agree that being addicted to caffeine is not healthy, and if abstaining from coffee is the best way to avoid it, then I would call that a good idea. But if I know that caffeine doesn't affect me that way, and I want to drink coffee, then I'm going to drink it. It's the same with alcohol--I enjoy trying different drinks here and there, and I don't see anything wrong with a glass every couple weeks or so (for myself; obviously the amount could vary for others).

    Anyway, the moral of the story is, yes--good ideas to be used as general guidelines. Not measuring sticks for worthiness or criteria by which to judge others. Which is always the problem in the church; we like to assume that everyone must be doing all the same things in the same way in order to be considered worthy. As far as that kind of sin is concerned, I essentially think it's nonsense.

  3. I do not believe in "sin" as defined by most religions. (that broad definition being 'something offensive to God') If there is a supreme being who is omniscient and omnipresent can such an entity be offended?

    I believe that we are here to experience things in a corporal, physical, experiential way. Much like learning to ride a bike - we will tip over, scrape our knees and scrape up the paint job ...but none of those problems is a "sin" is just part and parcel of learning experientially.

  4. I like that a lot, Virginia. As I think about it, that actually makes much more sense to me. There's a ridiculous culture in the LDS church of somehow expecting people to be able to go through life without any of those mistakes--not that it's taught that way, of course, but the way people respond to "sin" is not at all conducive to acknowledging mistakes and moving past them. It was thinking about this absurd approach that led me to this question in the first place; I think so many things Mormons freak out about just aren't a big deal at all.