Christian doctrine of ‘original sin
If I have understood the concept of ‘original sin’ then it arises as a result of the ‘ fall of man’ whereby Adam disobeyed God. As such every human being is born sinful – being sinful is the original condition of human beings. Put differently, ‘badness’ is our nature and we have to strive to be good. Who can redeem us from this state of ‘original sin’? God – if and only if he chooses to do so.
The Kite Runner: Baba’s view of sin
Some years ago when I was reading the Kite Runner. In this novel a conversation takes place between the principal character and Baba (his father. This is what Baba says about sin:
“There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft… When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness.”
A powerful way of looking at sin
If we are going to create and live from/into stories then how about generating a story that leaves me being powerful in my living? I say that we are born ‘whole-complete-perfect’ – we are thrown into this world with all that we need to play fully, our part, in the drama called ‘Life’. Thrown into this world we are neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’. We simply are.
Yet somwhere along the the line each of us does commit ‘sin’:
I sin when I say that I am not ‘whole-complete-perfect‘. I put myself down in any number of ways: I am not enough, I am weak, I am powerless, I am helpless, I don’t count, I don’t matter…….
I sin when I fail to take responsibility for what is so – that includes my life, my community, my tribe, my nation, the state of the world. Chaos theory shows that a miniscule change can influence dramatic changes in the world. And history shows that everything starts with one wo/man – a man that takes a stand and operates from that stand. Think Jesus, Mohammed, Stalin, Hitler, Luther, Alexander the Great, Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie……..
I sin when I fail to recognise that any moment I can reinvent my life simply by inventing and living from/into possibilities that leave me moved-touched-inspired-uplifted. To be human is to be granted with imagination – the capacity to envisage a life other than one I am living now, I world other than what is so today – and the capacity to act on the world, to live that possibility and bring it to fruition. The happiness research shows that it is not arriving at the destination that generates happiness. No, happiness is a byproduct of being on the right journey.
I sin when I hold myself to separate from my fellow human beings, from all other living beings and the earth itself. When I hold myself as being separate I close to my eyes to the fact that in the drama called ‘Life’ everything, everyone, all of life is interdependent. Each and everyone is in relationship. Look deeply into this and it is obvious that I have never been independent – I, you, we would not be alive today if it was not for the air, the water, the plants, the animals, our fellow human beings……..
I sin when I steal and like Baba says I steal in so many ways. I sin when I withhold my compassion, my love for to be human is to be social – to search for and need compassion and love from my fellow man. I sin when I treat living beings as merely objects – objects/resources to be used/abused for my benefit. I sin when I criticise, I condemn, I belittle, I diminish the humanity of the other. And the other includes all sentient beings e.g. the great apes, elephants, dolphins…..
What is the ‘good’ news?
I do not have to wait for God or for any other entity for any kind of redemption. Right now and at any moment I can give up my ‘sinful way of being/living’.:
- I can live from the context of being ‘whole-complete-perfect’.
- I can choose to be responsible/accountable for my life, for the state of the world.
- I can invent and live from/into possibilities that leave me ‘moved-touched-inspired-uplifted-joyous’.
- I can recognise that the nature of existence is relationship – to be alive is to be in relationship – and I can act accordingly. I can ask myself “How would I like to be treated if I was born cat, dog, monkey, elephant…..?” And I can show the care that I expect others to show for me.