Abusive concepts of sin ?

RussRuss Shipmate
This may not go anywhere much, but I'm following a train of thought to see where it leads, and want to know what others think.

Premises:

1) everyone has some notion of what "sin" means, and no-one doubts that some acts are sinful (even if they wouldn't use the word). But different people mean different-but-related things by the word (e.g for some sin is defined by the revealed will of an inscrutable God, whereas an atheist might deny God but still believe that sin in the sense of moral wrongdoing exists)

2) some but not all versions of Christianity are abusive (meaning something like "putting people under psychological pressure to conform to group norms in a way that is dishonest and a form of using people for one's own ends and therefore wrong").

3) Where Christianity is abusive, (not pointing fingers at any tradition in particular) the fault lies with a particular concept of sin that makes people feel unduly guilty.

Question:

If you disagree with the premises as stated, can you say why ?

If you agree, just what is it about the way that abusive Christianity uses the word "sin" that is so wrong ? What is the essential nature of this misuse of language ?

Is it that sin is so boundless ? That there is nothing that is inherently outside the meaning of sin, nothing that can't be presented as sinful if the preacher chooses to portray it as such ?

Is it that sin is taken so seriously but includes acts that are so trivial? That there is no appeal to any sense of proportion ? (? Jesus is crucified because of my petty transgressions?)

Is it where sin becomes aligned with the self-interest of the preacher ?

Or something else entirely ?
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Comments

  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Are you talking about the question of spiritual abuse here?
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    I'm definitely not talking about what people do to each other physically.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    3) Where Christianity is abusive, (not pointing fingers at any tradition in particular) the fault lies with a particular concept of sin that makes people feel unduly guilty.

    Question:

    If you disagree with the premises as stated, can you say why ?
    I disagree with point 3. ISTM that Christianity is abusive like anything else -- based on the misuse of power by some over others. If abusive behavior were unique to Christianity, one might look at some doctrine of the offending organization. But that just doesn't appear to be the case.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    I don’t understand. If 1, 2, and 3 are the premises then what’s the conclusion?
  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    ECraigR wrote: »
    I don’t understand. If 1, 2, and 3 are the premises then what’s the conclusion?

    I think they are to come later. Whether we're to act as a sounding board to help them become better grounded, or because knowing the (subject of the) conclusion would change our responses now (there are good and abusive reasons for taking either approach).

    So with regard to 2, that only picks up on one kind of abuse. I'd probably change that to... (initialising OP where unchanged)
    One of the ways [sbnac] can be abusive is by [ppupptctgniawtidaafoupftoeatw]

    3, again I think picks up on only one dynamic
    A few, kind of related (and currently badly defined) would be for example:
    making people not feel guilty when they should
    wiping the slate clean without restoration (you don't have to go as far as Zaceus)
    leaving genuinely guilty people feeling trapped/having only black&white
    naively or cynically applying your standards of sin on others
    creating false 'realities' that would make their evaluation of sin flawed
  • jay_emm wrote: »
    ECraigR wrote: »
    I don’t understand. If 1, 2, and 3 are the premises then what’s the conclusion?

    I think they are to come later. Whether we're to act as a sounding board to help them become better grounded, or because knowing the (subject of the) conclusion would change our responses now (there are good and abusive reasons for taking either approach).

    Didn't we just recently lose a shipmate in part for playing these kinds of games?
  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    I didn't (don't) know. It was speculation on my part.
    There are good reasons for working things through, though. It probably depends if people are allowed to interact as to if it's a game or not.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Sin itself is an inherently abusive concept as is conditional forgiveness therefore.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    edited October 22
    Host hat on
    @mousethief oblique references to the planking of other shipmates don’t address the subject of the discussion, and look suspiciously like junior hosting or even a personal attack.

    Don’t do it.
    Host hat off
    BroJames Purgatory Host
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Sin is forgetfulness of the goodness of God. And gratitude is the opposite of disbelief.

    Today's aphorism has come to you courtesy of Rublev the Desert Mother.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited October 22
    How can we forget what we have never known? Except only the minority, minimal, creedal, Jn. 3:16, unaccreted, de-enculturated, Earth local, Jesus?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited October 22
    Is it your contention that we have known the truths of the Creeds from Eternity?

    I agree that we can only really understand theology and salvation in an incarnational way. Which is why the Law was insufficient to redeem humanity and also why Christ gave Holy Communion to us.

    And why pastoral ministry is so important in building community and why training courses should always be interactive and never death by PowerPoint.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    As I said, we have never known. Apart from when we - a tiny minority of us in both senses, either a tiny number of people or a tiny part of each of a slightly larger number of our consciousnesses - come to know.

    Sin: a metaphor for our helpless human condition for the past million years with its origins and analogues in vertebrate and higher invertebrate (cephalopod mollusc) behaviour.

    And yes, I'm a miserable sinner. Guilty. Ashamed. Yes I need forgiveness for the things I cannot even begin to atone, make amends, apologize for. T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear. Psychologically. I need to be free of judgement, of condemnation. To start again. Every day. Every hour. And Grace, my fears relieved. We are all unconditionally forgiven all. We will all know this beyond death, beyond being sheep and goats, at the dawn of transcendence.

    So it is right to emphasize Jesus' atonement for our primitive, ignorant state, in His; but beyond that, above that it is right to emphasize Him alone. He is far more than a shocking, existential but not forensic, not legalistic, yet essential propitiation for the concept and undo-able reality of sin and feelings of guilt and shame. He is the revelation of life beyond death, for Earth.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited October 22
    Martin54 wrote: »
    it is right to emphasize Him alone. He is far more than a shocking, existential but not forensic, not legalistic, yet essential propitiation for the concept and undo-able reality of sin and feelings of guilt and shame. He is the revelation of life beyond death, for Earth.

    There could be no better demonstration of why we favour actual discussion here, rather than book reviews.

    Pure gold and going to the quotes file immediately.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    I thought very carefully about this answer. As far as I understand it an abusive concept of sin is very human. Sin is more than just being good or bad. Which raises the question can you do something bad and not sin? But that is for another thread. Sin is part of the human condition. Jesus was not hard on people who sin as such. He did not let the Woman caught in adultery be stoned, he ate with people the “holy” men wouldn’t. He saw abuse of power by said holy men and abuse of the temple far worse than sin. If ask for forgiveness God will forgive us. If we deal with sinful people in an inappropriate way that is bad.
    That may not make that much sense but it is my reaction
  • There is also an abusive concept of forgiveness. Where one is expected to write off the damage done to oneself and behave as if nothing has happened. Not even God does that. Whatever our understanding of the atonement, God makes quite clear that it is costly to him.
  • From the OP:

    3) Where Christianity is abusive, (not pointing fingers at any tradition in particular) the fault lies with a particular concept of sin that makes people feel unduly guilty.

    There has been a concept, not confined to one tradition, that the fallen woman is sinful, whereas the man that pushed her into falling is less or not sinful. I'm thinking of the Magdalene Laundries, for example, where the entire guilt was loaded on women, who presumably did not get pregnant alone.

    Is that an example of the sort of thing you mean, Russ?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    it is right to emphasize Him alone. He is far more than a shocking, existential but not forensic, not legalistic, yet essential propitiation for the concept and undo-able reality of sin and feelings of guilt and shame. He is the revelation of life beyond death, for Earth.

    There could be no better demonstration of why we favour actual discussion here, rather than book reviews.

    Pure gold and going to the quotes file immediately.

    Amazing what one comes out with hanging on by one's finger nails!
  • That's usually where the best stuff comes from.
  • Sin as a concept has been used to coerce the less powerful throughout history. It has been tied to sex for centuries, a link for which St Augustine is responsible among other people. This is used to bind individuals to the structure and authority of the church, not to the love of God.
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    As I said, we have never known. Apart from when we - a tiny minority of us in both senses, either a tiny number of people or a tiny part of each of a slightly larger number of our consciousnesses - come to know.

    Sin: a metaphor for our helpless human condition for the past million years with its origins and analogues in vertebrate and higher invertebrate (cephalopod mollusc) behaviour.

    And yes, I'm a miserable sinner. Guilty. Ashamed. Yes I need forgiveness for the things I cannot even begin to atone, make amends, apologize for. T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear. Psychologically. I need to be free of judgement, of condemnation. To start again. Every day. Every hour. And Grace, my fears relieved. We are all unconditionally forgiven all. We will all know this beyond death, beyond being sheep and goats, at the dawn of transcendence.

    So it is right to emphasize Jesus' atonement for our primitive, ignorant state, in His; but beyond that, above that it is right to emphasize Him alone. He is far more than a shocking, existential but not forensic, not legalistic, yet essential propitiation for the concept and undo-able reality of sin and feelings of guilt and shame. He is the revelation of life beyond death, for Earth.

    A very enjoyable post, Martin. I don't believe a word of it, but no matter. I spent 30 years working with people about their guilt and shame, (and envy), and they are veritable monsters that wreck lives. However, it is possible to exhume them, and take them to bits. But also, as I've said before, probably the killer is the "self-cures" that people employ against them. Layer upon layer of self-attack. Oi vey.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    ECraigR wrote: »
    I don’t understand. If 1, 2, and 3 are the premises then what’s the conclusion?

    It's not a syllogism. They're the assumptions behind the question, the preamble that sets a context in which (hopefully) the question makes sense.

    @jay_emm said:
    So with regard to 2, that only picks up on one kind of abuse.
    Definitely. Yes there are other kinds of abuse. "Abusive" just seemed like the best word to describe the sort of language games that some people play to keep others in the wrong.


  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    @quetzalcoatl said -
    I spent 30 years working with people about their guilt and shame, (and envy), and they are veritable monsters that wreck lives. However, it is possible to exhume them, and take them to bits. But also, as I've said before, probably the killer is the "self-cures" that people employ against them. Layer upon layer of self-attack. Oi vey

    Alcohol? Drugs? Overeating?
  • Boogie wrote: »
    @quetzalcoatl said -
    I spent 30 years working with people about their guilt and shame, (and envy), and they are veritable monsters that wreck lives. However, it is possible to exhume them, and take them to bits. But also, as I've said before, probably the killer is the "self-cures" that people employ against them. Layer upon layer of self-attack. Oi vey

    Alcohol? Drugs? Overeating?

    There's a long list. Over-working, incessant sex, projection onto others, fake niceness ...
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    ECraigR wrote: »
    I don’t understand. If 1, 2, and 3 are the premises then what’s the conclusion?

    It's not a syllogism. They're the assumptions behind the question, the preamble that sets a context in which (hopefully) the question makes sense.

    Whether or not it’s a syllogism makes no difference. Evaluating the premises requires knowing the conclusion to see whether or not the premises lead to the conclusion, as well as simply evaluating the content of each individual premise. That’s not syllogistic, it’s basic logical form.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    @Martin54

    Can you be sure that we have never known? He has set eternity in our hearts. The Spirit will not teach us all things but remind us of all things. Where else does the yearning come from?

    'Maybe a great magnet pulls
    All souls towards truth,
    And constant craving has always been...

    Your reflections on incarnationality are the gospel in a nutshell.

    He is also the revelation of life in this life.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Aye, we know by our inchoate yearning. But there is no knowledge in that. We don't know that God is. Except for the Earth local, human incarnation claims of the earliest Church. And that is distorted by culture, including Jesus'.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Perhaps that is the only true knowledge that exists.

    You have a highly original take on Christianity: Nothing is true except the incarnation. And there are an infinite number of them in the universe.
  • I’m reminded of the confession “through ignorance, through weakness, and through our own deliberate fault”. I definitely do things which are harmful, to myself & others, and the things I do wrong fall under those headings. It’s fine by me to call them sin. I don’t find that potentially psychologically harmful, because a healthy psychology (I believe) would say “Jemima has been short tempered with her kids, she has said sorry for shouting at them, will try to do better next time, and is basically a fundamentally ok person with good and bad bits.”

    What, imv, is not psychologically healthy for meis to say “Jemima is a sinner, with a fundamentally wrong nature, and an innocent man who was also God had to die in order to make her not fundamentally wrong any more.”

    I emphasise the for me because for many people’s psychology, this is absolutely fine. I have ocd which is relevant, in an ocd spiral I’ll convince myself that a minor mistake at work means I don’t deserve to live. But, you know, I first developed it at the time I was converted to Christianity, and developed the idea that that innocent man/God died because I stole hair clips at ballet class aged 8.

    Tl:dr: Sin as a part of human nature with all that nature’s flaws and brilliance, ticketyboo. Sin being so awful God cannot look at me without requiring death of an innocent man/God without my having any say over that death, not so great.

    With regard to how preachers / leaders describe sin, yes that’s absolutely relevant. Point 3 I’d say is broader than that. If a youth group leader sexually assaults a teenager in his group, that abuse has nothing to do with his definition of sin. So I guess I disagree with your definition in 2. Unless I’ve missed the bleedin obvious. I would consider enforcing conversion therapy on someone non straight to be abusive, not because it is about trying to make that person fit a norm for that church, but because it causes harm.
  • I find that illuminating, Jemima. Christianity ratchets up sin and redemption to melodramatic levels. Hair clips at ballet, indeed.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Rublev wrote: »
    Perhaps that is the only true knowledge that exists.

    You have a highly original take on Christianity: Nothing is true except the incarnation. And there are an infinite number of them in the universe.

    And infinite universes from eternity. It can't be unique to me. Om just this bloke.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Salvation is always unique to every soul. It is what Jesus' ministry of individual personal encounters clearly demonstrates. And why the spiritual gospel of John keeps asking the reader: Which one are you - and what is your response to Christ?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited October 22
    Transcendence is of all who that transcend, which is a very low bar.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I don't know about anyone else but I'm having some difficulty getting to grips with this thread, to work out what the question(s) is/are.

    'Abusive' is a serious charge, one not to be loosely bandied around. For clarification, @Russ, are you saying that the whole concept of sin is abusive or potentially abusive? Or are you saying that some concepts of sin are abusive and/or have abusive fruits?

    If so, is there an understanding of sin that you'd class as not being abusive? If so, it might be a help for some of us to understanding which version(s) you are accusing of being abusive and which you are letting off the hook.

    Likewise, when you say "some but not all versions of Christianity are abusive" it might be a help for some of the thicker or more conventional among us to have some idea which versions you think are abusive, which aren't and why?
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    I don't know about anyone else but I'm having some difficulty getting to grips with this thread, to work out what the question(s) is/are.
    Sorry Enoch - not meaning to be obscure.
    'Abusive' is a serious charge, one not to be loosely bandied around.
    Agreed. There may be a better word but it isn't occurring to me right now.

    There are different forms of abuse and I'm not attempting to address all of them. I'm seeking to pin down a particular form, that's to do with how we use words and concepts.
    For clarification, @Russ, are you saying that the whole concept of sin is abusive or potentially abusive? Or are you saying that some concepts of sin are abusive and/or have abusive fruits?
    I'm saying that different people have different concepts of sin (or perhaps different ways of framing or employing concepts of sin). And some of those are a straight and honest use of language. But some aren't. Some are twisted and manipulative and for want of a better word.. ..abusive.
    If so, is there an understanding of sin that you'd class as not being abusive?
    That's sort of the question. Understanding the difference, learning to spot the manipulative formulation.

    I can try to give an example.

    If you use "sin" to mean "doing things that God has explicitly condemned in the Ten Commandments" then that's straight. If officials of your church do one of these condemned things, it's a sin. Conversely, anyone accused can demonstrate their innocence by going through all ten to show that none apply. Everyone knows what's inside and what's outside the meaning of the word.

    But if you use "sin" to mean both "acts hurtful to God" and "acts forbidden by the hierarchy of the church" then that's twisted. No official act of the church can be a sin, because the hierarchy isn't forbidding it. If you're accused, the fact that the hierarchy are telling you you shouldn't proves that you're sinning, i.e. hurting God. The word carries all the opprobrium of one sense applied to actions defined by the other sense.

    But I suspect that enough people here have real experience with Christianity gone bad that my clumsy made-up examples are unnecessary.


  • Russ wrote: whereas an atheist might deny God but still believe that sin in the sense of moral wrongdoing exists)
    ]
    Not this atheist. I have never liked the word 'sin' even when a believer in God during the first part of my life. I questioned it as a young person, but never had a satisfactory answer; thought about it and moved quite quickly away from the concept of sin, with all its religious connotations, as an adult; argued against use of the word at times and never used it myself about my own or others' actions; think more and more it should be retired or slip out of use. The difficulty is that there is not a replacement word for wrongdoing that is as brief, and without religious connotations.
    There are so many aspects of behaviours that do not conform, or do not fit in with a particular culture, or are against the law - as defined by that particular country at that particular time.
  • Yes, I think the concept of sin has such an abusive hinterland, that non-theists have generally avoided it like the plague. I've seen too many people still immersed in guilt and shame and self-hatred, from being told they were sinful. It used to be called soul murder, a term not in fashion now, but accurate.
  • Not happy with the concept of sin as an intrinsic part of human nature - flawed yes, but sin is something one is convicted of by the Holy Spirit. It is not something a preacher, or anyone else, should use to point at someone and say 'sinner!' I have been in gatherings of evangelising to children that have tried to use personal sin and the crucifixion as a guilt inducer -cringeworthy stuff, especially where (secondary school age) children are involved.
    So, yes, abusive.

    Jesus, and only Jesus, was able to point out hubris and sin in those who should know better.

    For the rest of us the gospel is 'one beggar showing another where to find bread'.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    As far as I know the word sin comes from archery. If you fire an arrow and it falls short of the target it is a sin. Sin in terms of Christianity is falling short and f God’s will. We are prone to sin. If that is used to make someone feel guilty then that is bad. Feeling convicted for sin is different. That is being aware of your action.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    As I said, we have never known. Apart from when we - a tiny minority of us in both senses, either a tiny number of people or a tiny part of each of a slightly larger number of our consciousnesses - come to know.

    Sin: a metaphor for our helpless human condition for the past million years with its origins and analogues in vertebrate and higher invertebrate (cephalopod mollusc) behaviour.

    And yes, I'm a miserable sinner. Guilty. Ashamed. Yes I need forgiveness for the things I cannot even begin to atone, make amends, apologize for. T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear. Psychologically. I need to be free of judgement, of condemnation. To start again. Every day. Every hour. And Grace, my fears relieved. We are all unconditionally forgiven all. We will all know this beyond death, beyond being sheep and goats, at the dawn of transcendence.

    So it is right to emphasize Jesus' atonement for our primitive, ignorant state, in His; but beyond that, above that it is right to emphasize Him alone. He is far more than a shocking, existential but not forensic, not legalistic, yet essential propitiation for the concept and undo-able reality of sin and feelings of guilt and shame. He is the revelation of life beyond death, for Earth.

    A very enjoyable post, Martin. I don't believe a word of it, but no matter. I spent 30 years working with people about their guilt and shame, (and envy), and they are veritable monsters that wreck lives. However, it is possible to exhume them, and take them to bits. But also, as I've said before, probably the killer is the "self-cures" that people employ against them. Layer upon layer of self-attack. Oi vey.

    Glad you liked it although you disbelieve all of it, which is impressive! I believe what you say after that.
  • Sin is generally defined as a violation of religious or moral law. As such, until you have such a law, there is no concept of sin. For Christians (and Jews) the 10 commandments set out the law - one under which everyone falls short at some time (the archery concept that Hugal mentioned), and thus all are sinners.

    This "concept of sin" cannot be abusive - it applies to all of humanity equally. It is true that certain people and organizations are abusive in how they treat "other" sinners.
  • Sin is generally defined as a violation of religious or moral law. As such, until you have such a law, there is no concept of sin. For Christians (and Jews) the 10 commandments set out the law - one under which everyone falls short at some time (the archery concept that Hugal mentioned), and thus all are sinners.

    This "concept of sin" cannot be abusive - it applies to all of humanity equally.
    Actually, under Jewish understanding, the 10 Commandments as such, like the Law generally, are only binding on the people of Israel as part of the covenant.

    I generally find it more helpful to think of “sin” in terms of a condition—an illness, perhaps—rather than as something we do or don’t do. Those acts and omissions are, it seems to me, symptoms and results of the underlying condition.

  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    I agree with Nick’s understanding of sin as illness. Perhaps an illness we’re all subjected to.

    I don’t know if this is the pedantic version of sin or not, but my priest tends to define sin as the willful turning away outwardly from God and turning inwards, focusing on the individual ego. I think that’s a bit simplistic, but as a foundational analysis then it works.

    As for abuses of the concept, it’s certainly easily abused, but that’s true for most concepts that make action demands on people. Someone can always take advantage of that concept and use it against others.
  • Hugal wrote: »
    As far as I know the word sin comes from archery. If you fire an arrow and it falls short of the target it is a sin. Sin in terms of Christianity is falling short and f God’s will. We are prone to sin. If that is used to make someone feel guilty then that is bad. Feeling convicted for sin is different. That is being aware of your action.

    This maybe needs its own thread. The "falling short" model and the "breaking the law" model are at odds. The latter comes down to us through the Churchmen, and gives us such ideas as "it can't be a sin because you had no other choice" (e.g. divorce), and "it can't be a sin because you didn't realize the unintended consequences of your actions." In other words if you can't be found guilty in a court of sinners law, you haven't sinned. But that is not the "falling short of the mark" understanding. In Orthodoxy we pray for forgiveness of sins "committed in knowledge or in ignorance, intentionally or unintentionally". This fits the "archery" model but not the "courtroom" model.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    I find the concept of sin to be of rather limited helpfulness. I'm not saying that morally good or bad actions don't exist, but I find the exercise of seeing all of our human interactions through this lens rather one-dimensional. I need to take a lot of decisions in my life, some of them difficult. Very few of them are a simple choice between good and bad.

    In more strict religious terms, what I really find unhelpful is a concept of sin that is defined as an issue between God me. I dislike theories of sin and atonement that don't include my neighbour, and find that they can lead to some rather weird results.
  • ECraigR wrote: »
    I agree with Nick’s understanding of sin as illness. Perhaps an illness we’re all subjected to.

    I don’t know if this is the pedantic version of sin or not, but my priest tends to define sin as the willful turning away outwardly from God and turning inwards, focusing on the individual ego. I think that’s a bit simplistic, but as a foundational analysis then it works.

    As for abuses of the concept, it’s certainly easily abused, but that’s true for most concepts that make action demands on people. Someone can always take advantage of that concept and use it against others.

    OK, but some people have to focus on their ego as it has been badly damaged. I don't know how many, but probably very many. We talk about ego strength needing to be built up in therapy, and I used to talk about a healthy egotism, or really, a reparative egotism. The NSPCC used to quote 20% of children being abused in various ways.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    ECraigR wrote: »
    I agree with Nick’s understanding of sin as illness. Perhaps an illness we’re all subjected to.

    I don’t know if this is the pedantic version of sin or not, but my priest tends to define sin as the willful turning away outwardly from God and turning inwards, focusing on the individual ego. I think that’s a bit simplistic, but as a foundational analysis then it works.

    As for abuses of the concept, it’s certainly easily abused, but that’s true for most concepts that make action demands on people. Someone can always take advantage of that concept and use it against others.

    OK, but some people have to focus on their ego as it has been badly damaged. I don't know how many, but probably very many. We talk about ego strength needing to be built up in therapy, and I used to talk about a healthy egotism, or really, a reparative egotism. The NSPCC used to quote 20% of children being abused in various ways.

    Right, but there’s good focusing on self and bad focusing on self. Engaging in self-destructive behavior is a kind of focusing on the ego, but not a good use of it. Similarly, just making other people happy and ignoring your own desires is also a negative dismissal of the ego. A balance has to be achieved. I don’t think the simplistic version of sin I outlined some as holding would deny that attention has to be paid to one’s own individual needs, just that a balance has to be struck and maintained.

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Sin is generally defined as a violation of religious or moral law. As such, until you have such a law, there is no concept of sin. For Christians (and Jews) the 10 commandments set out the law - one under which everyone falls short at some time (the archery concept that Hugal mentioned), and thus all are sinners.

    This "concept of sin" cannot be abusive - it applies to all of humanity equally. It is true that certain people and organizations are abusive in how they treat "other" sinners.

    The Old Covenant is dead.
  • ECraigR wrote: »
    ECraigR wrote: »
    I agree with Nick’s understanding of sin as illness. Perhaps an illness we’re all subjected to.

    I don’t know if this is the pedantic version of sin or not, but my priest tends to define sin as the willful turning away outwardly from God and turning inwards, focusing on the individual ego. I think that’s a bit simplistic, but as a foundational analysis then it works.

    As for abuses of the concept, it’s certainly easily abused, but that’s true for most concepts that make action demands on people. Someone can always take advantage of that concept and use it against others.

    OK, but some people have to focus on their ego as it has been badly damaged. I don't know how many, but probably very many. We talk about ego strength needing to be built up in therapy, and I used to talk about a healthy egotism, or really, a reparative egotism. The NSPCC used to quote 20% of children being abused in various ways.

    Right, but there’s good focusing on self and bad focusing on self. Engaging in self-destructive behavior is a kind of focusing on the ego, but not a good use of it. Similarly, just making other people happy and ignoring your own desires is also a negative dismissal of the ego. A balance has to be achieved. I don’t think the simplistic version of sin I outlined some as holding would deny that attention has to be paid to one’s own individual needs, just that a balance has to be struck and maintained.

    I think that's a good answer. One thing that has always struck me is not knowing. I don't know what makes other people tick, and I'm a mystery to myself. I used to think I did! For example, I realized a while ago that guilt can be very self-obsessed, and it's also a search for meaning, and a way of connecting with the person one is guilty about. Layer upon layer upon layer. I don't know how that tracks with sin really.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    ECraigR wrote: »
    ECraigR wrote: »
    I agree with Nick’s understanding of sin as illness. Perhaps an illness we’re all subjected to.

    I don’t know if this is the pedantic version of sin or not, but my priest tends to define sin as the willful turning away outwardly from God and turning inwards, focusing on the individual ego. I think that’s a bit simplistic, but as a foundational analysis then it works.

    As for abuses of the concept, it’s certainly easily abused, but that’s true for most concepts that make action demands on people. Someone can always take advantage of that concept and use it against others.

    OK, but some people have to focus on their ego as it has been badly damaged. I don't know how many, but probably very many. We talk about ego strength needing to be built up in therapy, and I used to talk about a healthy egotism, or really, a reparative egotism. The NSPCC used to quote 20% of children being abused in various ways.

    Right, but there’s good focusing on self and bad focusing on self. Engaging in self-destructive behavior is a kind of focusing on the ego, but not a good use of it. Similarly, just making other people happy and ignoring your own desires is also a negative dismissal of the ego. A balance has to be achieved. I don’t think the simplistic version of sin I outlined some as holding would deny that attention has to be paid to one’s own individual needs, just that a balance has to be struck and maintained.

    I think that's a good answer. One thing that has always struck me is not knowing. I don't know what makes other people tick, and I'm a mystery to myself. I used to think I did! For example, I realized a while ago that guilt can be very self-obsessed, and it's also a search for meaning, and a way of connecting with the person one is guilty about. Layer upon layer upon layer. I don't know how that tracks with sin really.

    I don’t know how that tracks with sin, but I see what you’re saying. Insofar as sin can cause some to feel guilty, that could be a problem. So there’s a problem about how to resolve the guilt that accrues from sin. In theory that should dissipate once one has been absolved, but in my own personal case that’s a lot easier said than done.

    I suppose we’d really need to talk with someone who’s wracked by guilt because of sin and go from there. Any volunteers?
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