All have sinned

A previous post centered on the idea that people have clearly been given the power to make choices. Arguments have been had since the beginning of human consciousness about where that capacity comes from, but it is time that we stopped ignoring that it is there. With the power to choose comes the inevitability that we will make mistakes of one kind or another.

“All have sinned,” we are told, “and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

If we are all, as almost all Christians will tell you, sinners, and if we accept the passages of The Bible that tell us that all sin is sin (which most Protestant denominations teach), then why do “Conservatives” only worry about regulating some sins, and not others?

More over, why regulate any sin, if we’ve all sinned in some way? What does it matter if we keep it up? If the only salvation is through an illogical belief in the supernatural, and not any behavior that can be regulated, then why so much focus on what people do in their own lives?

The answer to the first is easy: given enough latitude, there are many “Conservatives” who would gladly institute their own religious code and keep anyone from having the kinds of fun that dogma prevents the believers from having themselves. They don’t want to be reminded of what they’ve chosen to give up, and so they want to take your joy away from you, too.

The second question, though, seems only to have the same answer. There is no dogma in any Christian group that I am aware of that simply says that you can stop sinning from now on and be alright with God. Christianity, as I define it, relies on the supernatural belief that 1: we have a soul, 2: it is almost certainly damaged, even before we are capable of making mature choices for ourselves, and 3: that only a belief in the supernatural salvation of this supernatural soul, and the understanding of the need for that salvation as some inherent unworthiness, can rectify the problem. Clearly, this has been a hard sell in many cultures over the last 2 millennia, but if salvation can only come from a true change of heart, and not a change in behavior, then regulating the private activities of others is not going to save anyone.

The idea that we have to hate on the homosexuals, as an obvious example, so that they will stop being all homosexual, even if it did work, would not do anything in the next life, and will only make them miserable in this life. They will die, and if they never ask to be forgiven for being homosexual, then they will be judged in the afterlife for it, even if they otherwise believe in salvation through Jesus. More over, if you take the view that many Christians do of Matthew 5:28, even just feeling homosexual urges and desires is enough to condemn you to hell. Oddly, though, that same dogma also usually holds that if a gay man feels a heart attack coming, mid-coitus, stops what he is doing and honestly asks to be forgiven, then that man gets in to Heaven. His faith is what saves him, despite his acts.

My point is, then, that we cannot save people by making them miserable. We cannot elevate their souls through repression. We cannot improve their life nor their after-life through hate.

If our very thoughts can condemn us to hell, then no regulation can prevent damnation. If only our hearts can save us, then why are we so obsessed with other body parts? If love is a gift from God, and is, as The Bible says, the very essence of God, then why would we deny that to anyone who finds it? Why not love them, as they are, and live lives that model what we want for them and from them? Is it not better to lead by example, rather than trying to mold loving hearts through hate and fear?

We have all sinned, and it seems unavoidable according to scripture, even if we discount “Original Sin”, then who are we to judge? It is one thing to protect each person from the actions of others, and that is what society ought to do. It is quite another to try and “protect” a person from making choices in his own life. Life is hard, and we each have to find our own way of dealing with it. We can counsel and coax the goodness from a person’s own heart. We can instruct and nurture their best. We can help them to find whatever passes for salvation in their own life. Whether we are coaxing, nurturing, or helping, though, we cannot do it with fear and hate. We can only do those things with love.

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