The Difference it Makes

It can be difficult to swallow the idea of sin from an intellectual standpoint. People do what they do for a reason. At the time that they do it, they think it’s a good thing to do. If they feel guilt concerning their actions, then their doing it was ultimately the result of an overriding impulse, and was this really anything more than a few neurotransmitters outscoring a few others? Does anyone really deserve punishment for this?

I am not sure that I can even provide an answer to the above objections, but there is a dilemma—and I think it’s a more resonant one—that is solved by being a Christian. It is a small, happy thought amongst a storm of serious and gloomy things.

Without God, there simply are no moral absolutes. All rational atheists are in agreement with me on this point, and when I am contested on it, I will pass on any objections to them (they’re the ones who believe that this conclusion applies to reality, after all). With no higher authority to arbitrate our opinions, there is nobody who can objectively comment on my behaviour. Yet many of us—agnostics and atheists included—have the disturbing sense that some things are wrong, and some things are right. If we acknowledge that we commit evil deeds, however, we are condemning ourselves. Those outside the church may fear to set foot inside it, knowing that if they are convicted, they must live with incessant guilt. Perfection is impossible, and it is easier to live in denial of moral absolutes than to carry the burden of sin.

Being a Christian, however, is one of the only ways that these two problems will go away. It allows us to acknowledge the existence of moral absolutes and the commission of wrongs, as our intuition urges, and it allows us to be forgiven of these wrongs, so that we do not bear the guilt that comes with acknowledging them.


3 Responses to “Sin”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    One of the only? What are some others you’d consider?

  2. Your mind could become completely inured to the ideas, or you could invent a religion, to name a couple. I didn’t comment on the legitimacy of the alternatives.

  3. Stephanie Says:

    I didn’t suggest you had. 🙂 A problem “going away” is different than it being solved, too, so I think you covered that angle.

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