Can “Sin” be defined simply?

This seems to be a big sticking point.  Many Christians go straight to the specific acts listed as sins in the Bible to determine what is sinful.  The Bible does cover a lot of selfish, harmful actions as sins.  Basically anything selfish and potentially harmful, which makes sense.  But does the Bible’s catch-all of sin overstep its bounds?

I’ve noticed those who are devout Christians tend to stay far away from anything remotely sinful.  The Christian that was helping guide my learning seemed to pull away from me a bit after I had mentioned a gay friend of mine.  She seemed to pull even farther away after I had mentioned that I was celebrating my birthday by hosting a poker game.

Needless to say, in time she had ended up giving me a full cold shoulder treatment which ultimately resulted in my departure from the church.  I also felt that I was running into a dead end in my learning at the time as well, and I was traveling a good distance each Sunday to attend this church – a Calvary Fellowship church that studies books of the Bible chronologically through each book.

Anyways, my Christian guide, who had seemed like a nice girl, turned out to fall into the pattern of the not-so-thoughtful Christians I had experienced in the past who led me to want to understand better why such selfishness comes from a religion that I understood as one that teaches of being caring and respectful.  It actually hurt me a lot to be given such a harsh cold shoulder from someone who had brought me into learning about the compassion Jesus teaches.

And look at who Jesus spends time with in the Bible.  He spends a significant amount of his time with sinners, likely teaching them the troubles of their ways.  How often do you hear of Christians doing things like that?  Personally, not often.  Typically, it seems that Christians target sending aid to third world countries and teaching them the Bible.  It’s not a bad group to help out, but to me it shows the disconnect between Christians and Jesus.  Christians are taking aim at the easy targets in order to spread their faith, rather than following in Jesus’ footsteps and addressing the bigger plagues on society like the tax collectors!  The people who could do more to make the world a better place if they were shown a way to be more thoughtful.

Needless to say, I have some issues with the divide between Christians and Jesus.

Back to sin!

In my learning, I draw a connection between sin and selfishness.  When one’s selfishness is to the point of affecting others in a negative way, that’s sin.  Would that be about right?

If so, then maybe the church needs to take a good hard look at issues like homosexuality, sex education, stem cell research …. any more that I’m missing?  Sure, these areas are related to clearly sinful acts, but are they sinful in themselves?  Are they affecting anyone in a negative way?

Is fighting against these things affecting anyone in a negative way?

Please tell me again who the real sinners are …

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6 Responses to Can “Sin” be defined simply?

  1. Marc says:

    The word sin is derived from the Greek harmatia, meaning to miss the mark or fall short. In the juridical concepts that developed in Western Christianity after the Great Schism sin came to be associated with criminal behavior. In ancient Christianity, sin was understood to be more like a disease that kept a person from reaching their potential as a creature made in the image of God with the capacity to be like God. Judgment was seen more as a diagnosis than a condemnation, and punishment was considered a therapy rather than retribution.

  2. Soduhson says:

    As far as selfishness is concerned Jesus said the law of the prophets can be summed up in two ways. First love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And then love your neighbor as yourself. I think Christians fall short when they emphasize one and ignore the other. Loving God deals with your individual/personal sins. The things you do that you think you can get away with if no one is watching. And loving you neighbor deals with how you treat others (enemies and neighbors). Sometimes loving God, if declared in a haughty sense, can come off as prideful and selfish. I think that individual/personal sins should be used as a tool to relate to other rather than distinguish yourself.

  3. Pingback: Clarification of “sin” | Christianity Simplified

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