So, I’m a Christian and getting there has been a strange experience, so strange in fact, that I’m pressed to describe it to others, so they can share in the abnormality of it all.
One thing I’ve learned is that sin is relative, this is to say that sin is not an absolute among Christians.
I didn’t know this in the beginning and it caused huge arguments with fellow Christians because I kept pointing out bad behavior that I originally thought was inappropriate. But over time I came to realize that sin. in religion. is only sinful as it relates to circumstance, particular congregations or groups and individual understanding of Biblical interpretation.
To make it easier to understand I have categorized some of its complexity.
The “Accidental Sin“: This is the hardest to understand because it has to do with motive. Let’s say a nonbeliever is doing something that is generally accepted as sinful. This is a problem that needs fixing because nonbelievers are joyfully doing sinful things on purpose. If someone in a religious community is doing the same thing then it’s not as much a sin as it is an opportunity because they don’t want to do what they are doing. They have fallen into a trap or have been overwhelmed.
How it was explained to me: I was told it’s a heart thing. Those on the inside have a desire in their heart to stop sinning but those on outside do not. Those on the inside sin by accident due to unforeseen circumstances that were just too much to handle. They may also have been tricked into sin.
The issue I have with this: Both sides look the same. Same sins being committed, by the same people, year in and year out but a double standard is being applied for those who are nonbelievers. I decided to go with the Bible on this and not call out anyone since I’m not without sin. You live your life that’s your business I have no right judging you.
Matthew 7:3-5 — 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
The “You Not Me Sin“: This type of sin is much more straightforward and easier to understand. This is where you openly engage in behavior that is counter intuitive to religious doctrine but it’s for reasons that transcend earthly understanding.
How it was explained to me: There are things we don’t understand so ignore the bad behavior since those people are holier than most.
My solution: People are people and sin is sin.
The “Church Sin”: I noticed something I thought would be obvious once I became a Christian, but it soon became apparent that this was a taboo subject. Churches dedicated to sinning, this is to say if my church is the true church then the church down the street is a fake church spreading a false message on purpose (if the message is not the exact same message). Naturally, this would be enemy number one, and we should urgently do something to stop them from deceiving people and losing more souls to hell. But this is where it gets very strange, not only do we not say anything about them we literally count them as Christians ignoring the fact that a false message is being spread.
How they explained it: Everyone who believes will hear the correct message if they are basically Christian. Focus on the real enemy and not those trying to find the Christian God.
My solution: Treat everyone the same regardless of belief, culture, or race. Let them believe in whatever they want and only talk about my faith in relation to myself, not in relation to buildings or organizations.
The “Special Sin”: On Sunday I kept hearing this word abomination, so I started learning more about it. As I learned more I pointed out more (go figure). People became very upset with me because I was pointing out abominations in the church, not the abominations outside of the church. For instance, women wearing pants is an abomination.
How they explained it: Those are old abominations and can be ignored but the ones talked about in Sunday service are special sins because they are immoral and tear apart the fabric of society.
My solution: I decided to just love everyone and stop pointing out abominations.
The “Larger Sin”: This came up a lot with marriage issues in the church. For example, if a husband was abusing his wife in any way then the message was for the wife to do better. She was sinning because she wasn’t keeping him happy (Larger Sin), he would then act out by cheating, hitting, yelling etc. (Smaller Sin).
How they explained it: The point is that sometimes people sin, and it causes others to sin unwillingly. Larger sins cause smaller sins so the burden is on the larger sin.
My solution: Each individual is responsible for themselves so I’m not going to conflate individual sin and put unnecessary burdens on anyone for what someone else is doing.
The “Majority Sin”: This is the most obvious and ignored sin and is fully tribal in nature. As an example, if your congregation is on the heavier side then “Gluttony” will not be an issue in that church, in fact, they may even have food every Sunday in support of more eating. This is to say that if most people attending commit the same sin it is removed from the talking points and generally accepted.
How they explained it: Surprisingly most people don’t entertain me with a response to this issue when I bring it up. I just get brushed off laughingly with comments like, “It’s no big deal”, “pray for them”, or my favorite, “Stop being such a troublemaker”.
My solution: I leave it alone unless someone walks up to me and starts talking about how bad the world is becoming. At that moment I remind them of scripture and they walk away. Simple.
This is just my experience and may not reflect what other people are experiencing. I am just sharing what I have encountered and what I have been told. If you have any strange experiences about sin and how you are supposed to accept or reject it, then please share. If you just want to bash God or Christianity, then this is not the forum for that.