It would be a sin not to post one final napkin for Judge Knot week!
I Hate Sin
I know you might be thinking that sounds like a nice Christian thing to say but I don’t mean it in the traditional way. What I mean is I hate the word sin. I hate the mentality that calls so much of our behavior sin. In my mind it is both archaic stylistically and ineffective practically to label everything a sin. Why is that? Because labeling something sin attaches an immediate moral judgment to it. What’s wrong with that you say? It is fine when it actually has something to do with morality, and indeed there is plenty of behavior that does. But most of what people call sin we know now isn’t nearly as much about morality as it is about biology and chemistry and psychology.
Off the Hook?
Wait a second, isn’t that going to lead to people using excuses for continuing on in their bad behavior? Well, first off, Christianity already has the ultimate safety valve in place, that is the doctrine that you are not saved by works but by faith. No good thing you can do (on your own) can save you and no bad thing you can do (once you have accepted the doctrine) can destroy you. So, people already have their excuse if they want it. But further than that, getting rid of calling behavior sin and beginning to call it something judgment neutral doesn’t make excuses easier, it makes them harder. Why is that? Because accusations and judgment always lead to a defensive response. Saying someone is bad demands the person respond with why they are not but saying someone might have a biological condition that needs to be explored has no accusation or condemnation. You aren’t condemned if you break your arm and someone says you have a broken arm and need to get it fixed. It’s judgment neutral and you are free to get the arm fixed.
One Deadly Sin
Let’s take one of the traditional sins, gluttony. That is usually attached to someone being obese. Condemning and judging them for their obesity doesn’t take one step towards them overcoming their ‘sin’. Once they are judged, they still have to figure out what it is that is going on in their bodies, their history, their habits. They still have to take deliberate steps to change what they can and move in a new direction. If the reason has to do with family eating habits, then that needs to be addressed. If it has to do with a imbalance in the thyroid, that needs to be addressed. If it is a psychological or emotional issue, that needs to be addressed. None of those reasons have anything to do with the original comdemnation/judgment so why add it in the first place?
Forget Judgment, Remember Reasons
A better avenue is to forget the judgment and just start with reasons. These are real reasons that we can do something about, not reasons rooted in an archaic and simplistic understanding of humanity. It’s important to note, we aren’t saying there isn’t a problem when we avoid the judgment of calling something a sin. We are saying the problem can be dealt with and solved by dealing with what is really happening, not what some religious doctrine demands we call something.
Drawing by Marty Coleman
Quote by Anonymous
Fact of the day
The Seven Deadly Sins were first codified by Pope Gregory and popularized by Dante in his ‘Divine Comedy’.
Here is the list in Latin:
- luxuria (lust)
- gula (gluttony)
- avaritia (avarice)
- Socordia (sloth)
- ira (wrath)
- invidia (envy)
- superbia (pride)