Monday, December 27, 2010

A problem concept

I'll start to dissect Christianity and tell you what either makes no sense to me or what really hacks me off.

Let’s take sin and forgiveness, two manufactured Christian concepts.

There is no such thing as sin. We are not born sinners. Or born with a stain. We invented that concept. We do bad things. It’s part of being human. There is no need for us to be “perfect”. God thinks we are all perfect exactly as we are, flaws and all. I see we are all perfect, all of us, all the time. We are totally divine, but in a human body. Sure we may do bad things, out of fear of not being loved, but it is all perfection, it is all on purpose. Doing bad things is not a sin against God, no more so than a child pushing another child down is a sin against the parent. It is just sad for the parent. God aches with divine pain to see us hurt each other because he knows we are born only loving. He knows we will be overcome by heaven where there will be no pain, no hurt. But he has to wait for us to figure it out. We are figuring it out. I am one voice in a million who is figuring it out right now as you read this.

There is no need for the words forgiveness or atonement. There is nothing to forgive. Our humanity, our shortcomings have all already been contemplated. We were made this way, and nobody (God) expects us to be different, better, more perfect. We created the concept of forgiveness as a coping mechanism for the horrific concept of sin. Christianity wrote the original sin into our story. It told us we are born sinners. We torture ourselves with the hell that is sin and then offer forgiveness as a grossly inadequate lifeline.

We give our transgressions epic connotations and then hope to ease the enormous guilt we feel about sin by offering forgiveness. We made our actions seem unbelievably evil, we labeled them sins against the God who loves us more than anyone can imagine, a God who knows no sin. Then we needed a place in our mind to put that sin so we wouldn’t kill ourselves with remorse every time we “sinned.” We sweep these epic sins under the rug with Forgiveness. We created the concept of forgiveness because our brains were horrified and woefully underequipped to deal with the concept of original sin.

But like I said, Forgiveness is inadequate to battle the concept of sin. It is a facile and tidy antidote we created to a scathing chronic illness we also created. The antidote, so quick and easy and painless, with no side effects, bears no comparison to the weight of the “disease”.

We know this, we know forgiveness does not ring true. The way Christians have defined it is not a human ability. We feel anger and suspicion and disappointment and jealousy and bitterness and resentment. Those are normal and natural and human. Sweeping those feelings all out of your mind with forgiveness is not normal. It’s really quite unhealthy, and explains why the Western world is so sick right now, as a collective body. We suffer national depression because we constantly repress how we truly feel about someone hurting us, because we think we are supposed to forgive. “To forgive divine.” Exactly, it expects behavior that we can never attain in this human life. Again, it is an impossible standard set forth by Christianity.

So what do we do instead? What do we say when someone says “I am sorry” in lieu of saying I forgive you? In lieu of patronizing them and martyring yourself? You say Thank you, it makes me feel better to know you are sorry. What you did hurt me. Don’t do it again.

How about instead of granting forgiveness for these eviscerating sins, we just banish original sin? Instead of continually apologizing for transgressions labeled so horrific that our brains cannot process the scale, why not remove the stain. The stain that never was. We just take it out of our lexicon, out of our brains. We unteach it. Unlearn it. We go back to the beginning. We are as clean of sin as the dumb beasts, as ignorant of sin as Adam and Eve pre-fall if you need a biblical analogy. We realize that simple bad behavior, which Christianity has aggrandized into “sin” is an outgrowth of not being loved enough and of fearing we fail to meet God’s expectations. We remove the fatalistic connotation for doing bad, human things. This comes part and parcel with learning to receive unconditional love and then loving all of yourself.

In one grand editorial of Jesus’ death on the cross, Christianity told us all we are born sinners. Just as easily, we can realize this is just not true. There is nothing to forgive. The tragic irony is that in your heart, you know this to be true, you have always known this to be true. You know what has been preached for so long, the concept that you are born with the stain of original sin, is pure fabrication. It never had to happen.


  1. Hi Hilary. Thanks for the link from Flirting with Faith. I think I get what you are saying except for one thing. Your premise about casting off original sin as transformational works great for people who had it from youth/childhood. I'm trying to get my arms around it for folks like me who lived three decades without believing in original sin or hell or any of those trappings before coming to faith. I did bad things and didn't care a bit. In fact, I had very little conscience about my wrongdoing. That said, I valued forgiveness. Not sure how that fits in with your premise...

  2. I think we humans do bad things, hurtful things, unforgiveable things just because. Not because of any tragic flaw in our chromosomes. I think if you've spent decades not believing in original sin you are head and shoulders above so many others in intellectual independence.

    We should feel bad about doing bad things, just not cleaved from some omnipotent God when we do those bad things.


God, to have these guys in a room together again....