Clarification of “Sin”

In my earlier post, “Can “Sin” be defined simply?“, I draw connection from sin to selfishness.

  • “When one’s selfishness is to the point of affecting others in a negative way, that’s sin.”

I haven’t been perfectly comfortable with that definition, and I have been challenged about that definition as well.  I hope this refined definition is a step in the right direction, and of course, I welcome any input to help bring the definition to where it fits properly.

I have updated it in “The Simple Heart of Christianity” to read as follows:

  • sin = an act of selfishness that results in disconnect from one’s greater environment, humanity, and one’s self respect
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18 Responses to Clarification of “Sin”

  1. Soduhson says:

    So God has no role in your definition of sin?

  2. violetwisp says:

    I think sin is a ridiculous concept, but I quite like your first definition in terms of harmful behaviour and how ‘sin’ could more usefully be understood by Christians. Not sure about the update. But anyway, using such simplistic labels for massively complicated outcomes of behaviour that can never be quantified, just falls into the hands of the misleading Christian way of viewing life and the decisions we make.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      I get your point, but I think a lot of people are able to embrace Christianity because they may not be able to grasp even the more basic outcomes of behaviour very well. Case in point, it seems that many devout born-again Christians come from backgrounds of addiction. I believe having a more solid concept like this could be beneficial in bridging the gap in bringing a better understanding of morality to those who have adopted the morality list of Christianity without understanding how morality develops.

      I am considering exchanging the word “separation” to “disconnect” in my definition, as “separation” seems to lack clarity and my previous definition focuses solely on humanity.

      • violetwisp says:

        You’re right. Thinking about more practical applications of morality, in terms of the outcomes of behaviour and how it affects others, could certainly make the less harmful interpretations of the Bible more appealing to Christians. They’re all cherry-picking so at least they should do so from the nice bits.

    • Derek says:

      What specifically is ridiculous about the concept of sin? Could you also please elaborate on what is misleading about the Christian way of life? Thanks!

      • violetwisp says:

        As I said on the other post, it’s ridiculous because it’s harmful and doesn’t help us as humans evaluate how we behave in a useful way. We should modify our behaviour to cause the least harm possible to other people (in line with the Golden Rule) as this is the only way to ensure we continue our progress towards a fairer society for all, which in turn makes a nicer place to live for ourselves and any offspring we may have. Black and white goods and bads based on an understanding of the world from a specific culture thousands of years ago, isn’t a sensible way to do this. How much have we learned from history, psychology and science since those times? And if a god’s eternal laws inspired the Bible why are you eating pigs, not owning slaves, and wearing mixed fabrics? Why have none of you Christians with faith moved mountains into the sea or given up all your worldly belongings? If Jesus was the son of a god who knew everything, why did none of his contemporaries live to see the end of the world? I know, it’s all a matter of interpretation depending on what you want the Truth to be.

  3. Derek says:

    You bring up a lot here, so I’ll just pick out one common misconception and explain it briefly. “And if a god’s eternal laws inspired the Bible why are you eating pigs, not owning slaves, and wearing mixed fabrics?”

    Owning slaves is not required by the bible, we’ll have to get more into this one since it keeps getting brought up. The bible has three sets of laws: moral, civil, and ceremonial. As Christians, we are no longer under the law, but under grace. The civil laws pertain to how the people of Israel were supposed to dress, eat, and act. There is debate as to why this was the law, but it doesn’t change that it WAS the law. Ceremonial laws had to do with sacrifices and atonement for sins handled by the priests in Israel. When Jesus died on the cross one of his last things he said before he died was “It is finished”. The curtain of the inner most room of the temple was torn. I complete agree it is a matter of interpretation, but that doesn’t mean all interpretations are equally valid or that numerous interpretations mean that every interpretation is invalid. You mention science, the same holds true for it: People look at data and have different opinions. We don’t throw our hands in the air and say all of science is wrong because people disagree, but some opinions are obviously better than others based on reasoning. People are quick to dismiss the Bible because of the number of interpretations, but we don’t hold anything to that same standard.

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