I couldn’t figure out what exactly bothered me so much about the notion that according to Christian thought, we’re all born as sinners and have to be redeemed (even though the sin we’re begging forgiveness for seems to have happened millennia before we were born).
I’d been trying to put this confusion into words all week, because something odd struck me about the idea that we’re born in sin (or we’re naturally corrupt, as it’s otherwise put).
The first is that I have no clue what that really means. I’m also partway through Deuteronomy, so maybe I just haven’t hit those points yet.
But I have to say the more I think about it, the more I think humans were not born with sinful natures, however that’s to be interpreted. The things that make humans corrupt, that bring about the deadly sins and all the other “bad” things in the world… I don’t believe they’re just within you from birth.
Namely, I think we’re taught, by words or deeds.
I came up with this theory when I got to thinking about hate and why people hate each other.
I don’t recall anybody being born hating another person or group of people. I think Frances McDormand’s character said it best in Mississippi Burning (in a moment that got her an Oscar nomination, but also one that got stuck in my head ever since I first started reading about Civil Rights). It’s the first half of the clip:
Something struck me about that moment when I first saw the flick over 20 years ago, and it came roaring back in my head this week. I think it’s because what she said is true: hatred is taught.
That made me think, what else is taught? Certainly not just hate, but the way we interact with other human beings, appropriately or otherwise is taught, whether through word or deed.
There may well be something to the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child.”
I mean, I honestly don’t think a baby just born into this world would participate in a “sinful” action. How could it? It doesn’t know anything. As time goes on and the baby grows into a child, it picks up the mannerisms, words, and norms of the family and culture it’s born into.
And if there is anything wrong, it’s not the child’s fault–they’re in a world of mimicry until they can do for themselves. They aren’t inherently sinful or bad; they’re learning sinful or bad behaviors or thoughts through the society around them.
Just as nobody is born hating, and nobody is born coveting, greedy, slothful, or full of wrath… how can anybody be born sinful?
I just don’t understand the mindset by the majority of Christians (in my experience) who believe that we’ve been sinners from day 1. I think that’s crap. I think we were taught to sin (or more like taught through omission–not taught how to be proper and “sinless”). To me, the concept of sin implies an intent to do wrong, not just being born that way.
After all, I’ve heard how someone who doesn’t believe in something the way other Christians think they should is often told “you just want to sin.” Wait, I thought we were born with it!… and yes, that quote has always puzzled me.
Also it’s annoying how nearly everything is a freaking sin. It’s like you just can’t win, and those who say the way to being sinless is to accept Jesus, well… I don’t get how that’s supposed to work out.
I mean, I don’t know anybody who magically became the most pure person around and didn’t falter within a few weeks or months… like it’s a new diet and just was too hard to keep up with.
The concept of sin in Christianity boggles my mind, but I’m still reading through the Bible, so maybe I’ll get some help on these discoveries through my various copies of the text (I’ve hit on very little related to sin so far, from what I can see).
I can’t help it–this was just bugging the hell out of me, and I had to vent a bit.