Sin and Forgiveness

Let’s talk about sin, shall we? First of all, what is it? People, myself included, have different ideas and interpretations of what sin is. My dictionary defines sin variously as “an offense against religious or moral law; an action felt to be reprehensible; transgression of the Law of God,” and finally “a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God.” Then in addition to your basic sin, we have your mortal sins and your venial sins. Mortal sins, like murder, “deprive the soul of sanctifying grace,” whereas venial sins are less serious in nature, therefore pardonable.

I regard sin as I do victimless crimes. If no one is caused any real physical or serious emotional harm, then it’s not a sin. So then, any form of consensual sex is not sinful, in my opinion, and that includes sodomy and homosexuality. Those who contend that homosexuality is a sin must also acknowledge that heterosexual sex is also a sin. According to them, it was Adam and Eve who committed the “Original Sin,“ that is, having sex with each other. So then, if sexual relations in itself is a sin, it shouldn’t matter with whom we do it. Same-sex coitus, therefore, is no more sinful than het intercourse. So there!

I consider the only real “mortal sins” to be crimes against nature, which does not include homosexuality. I’m referring to actions that upset the natural order of things, like murder of any kind: homicide, abortion and killing animals for sport. The jury is still out on the matter of suicide, however, for although it causes physical harm only to the person who commits it, it may cause emotional harm to the person’s surviving loved ones as well. The same can be said for adultery. I don’t consider the act itself to be sinful, but if the cuckolded spouse finds out about it, it may cause emotional harm for them and their children. My most abhorred venial sins would be large-scale gambling and wasting our natural resources, especially food and water.

“Lord God, who takes away the sin of the world…” Really! Where did “He” take this sin to then, since it’s still here and always has been? During each service at the churches where I worked, the congregation recites a “Confession of Sins,” in which they apologize for and ask forgiveness for all the sinful things that they have done during the past week. The priest (or minister) even goes so far as to say that in order to be forgiven of our sins, we need to confess to God directly. But since they say the same thing every time, the prayers must not be doing them any good, because they constantly keep right on sinning, don’t they? So I say, what’s the point? Since you can’t stop yourself from so-called sinning, apparently, then just go on and do it and shut up about it!

I never recited it myself, by the way, because I don’t consider anything I do at all sinful, at least nothing that I need to ask forgiveness for. And then I‘m not a hypocrite either. When I happen to do something that I am sorry for, I don’t want or need God’s forgiveness. I want the forgiveness of the person whom I have wronged. And anyway, if you ask God to forgive you for something, how do you know if you have been forgiven? God’s certainly not going to tell you. What you end up doing ultimately is forgiving yourself, if at all.

“…And forgive us our sins (or debts or trespasses) as we forgive those who sin against us.” That is my favorite passage from “The Lord’s Prayer,” which I agree with wholeheartedly. I expect that most of your law enforcement officials—cops, prosecutors, judges—even jurors, plaintiffs and common accusers themselves are churchgoers or at least accept the Bible’s word (when it suits their purposes, of course). They make us swear on it in court. All the Protestant and Catholic religions that I know about include the Lord’s Prayer in all their church services. People hear or utter that passage every week, some probably every day of their lives, but it seems never to sink in what it actually means. They are so determined to make other people pay for their transgressions, they hold grudges forever and are obsessed with revenge and retaliation, as if they themselves have never done anything wrong or never expect to.

We all need to learn and practice forgiveness. When someone is hurt or wronged by another person, by hanging on to the anger and resentment, it only empowers the other person. They have probably already gone on with their lives, to hell with you! But you are still upset and distraught about what’s been done to you. I have heard people say, “I will never forgive you for what you’ve done!“ But that means that they will spend the rest of their life in mental torment. If you would just let it go and forgive the person, it relieves you of the pain and anguish that has been plaguing you. You don’t have to forget what they did to you, but you can forgive them. It has been my lifelong experience that everyone in my life who has wronged me eventually gets what coming to them. So I don’t worry about getting even. I just sit back and wait for them to receive their own atonement or punishment. And for some reason, they always do. “Karmic Justice” is a real thing. What goes around, comes back around. I truly believe that.

This should be the “Hypocritic Oath”: “Only they who are without any sin whatsoever may cast the first stone.” No one is absolutely guiltless. Therefore, no one has the right to punish another person’s misdeeds, as they are at times most likely guilty of the very same actions themselves. Don’t be so quick to judge. God is my ultimate judge, not you. You should always keep in mind that people are the way they are for a reason. When I encounter an ill-tempered, grouchy, misanthropic person, whom I don’t know, instead of dismissing them or criticizing their demeanor, I always consider how unhappy they must be themself and what they must have gone through in their life to be in the miserable state that they are in. No one is born that way. We all become victims of personal circumstance. That goes for unruly, incorrigible children, people who commit crimes, are homeless or have mental problems, too. I’m not excusing these people’s aberrant behavior; I’m just saying that there is always a reason for people’s actions. When you see someone in trouble or distress, imagine yourself in their position, then try to show them the same compassion and understanding that you would want to receive if you were in a similar situation. It’s the Golden Rule, which I firmly try to uphold.

Of the so-called Seven Deadly Sins—Avarice, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Pride, Sloth and Wrath—I have been guilty of only a few of them, three, to be exact. In my opinion, those three are not necessarily bad or sinful, unless taken to the extreme or used in an abusive manner. I am not a greedy person. I don’t have to have more and more of anything, like money and material possessions. I’m not really envious of anybody. If you have something that I don’t or can do something that I haven’t done, more power to you. I don’t begrudge anyone’s abilities or achievements. I have been known to overeat on more than one occasion, which is the main indication of gluttony, but I do have great self-restraint as well, otherwise I would weigh a lot more than I do. Just like with avarice, moderation is the way I choose to go.

I expect that every normal person, including myself, has feelings of lust from time to time, which is defined as excessive sexual desire. Sure, I get horny, but I don’t always act upon it. It may not be convenient at the time or inopportune. But that’s human nature, not a bad thing in itself. The same can be said of pride. Pride is variously defined as “an over-high opinion of oneself; exaggerated self-esteem; conceit; the showing of this in behavior; haughtiness; arrogance.” But it can also mean “a sense of one’s own dignity or worth; self-respect; satisfaction in one’s achievements.” What’s wrong with that? I certainly recognize my own self-worth, I have self-respect and appreciate and acknowledge my life’s achievements. I think that positive pride is a good thing, whereas false pride or the lack of any humility is not. I’m not too proud to accept help or charity if I need it, and I can admit when I’m wrong and will offer apologies.

I don’t consider myself a truly slothful person. I hate just lying around not doing anything. I do spend a lot of time at home, but I’ve never been a “couch potato” (even if I actually had a couch). Even while watching TV, I’m always working at something—on music, my writing, endless computer projects, stimulating my mind with puzzles, games and reading material, preparing meals, something.

The one thing I definitely don’t do is wrath, which is intense anger, rage, fury. I do find some things in life to be upsetting at times, who doesn’t? But nothing makes me angry enough that I resort to punishment, vengeance, destruction or physical violence to myself or to others. I can’t imagine putting my fist through a wall, for example. For one thing, I would probably injure my hand, and then the wall would have to be repaired. Why would I break or destroy my personal property? I need or want everything that I have. Plus, I would have to clean up everything afterward. It’s not like in the movies when someone trashes a set, because they have people there on hand who are paid to clean up the mess. Besides, whatever it is that made you that mad in the first place, is still going to be there. Your irrational lashing out like that is not going to change anything. Get over yourself!

(# …I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints; the sinners are much more fun… #–Billy Joel)

[Related articles: A Critique of Catholicism; For the Bible Tells Me So; Heaven and Hell; “I Believe…”; Jesus H. Christ; Nativity Negation Redux; Oh, God, You Devil!; The Ten Commandments]

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