Sin is Still BIG. But, What is it?

Yesterday, I wrote about a blogger who said sin is not preached about enough in Protestant churches.

By coincidence, I attended today parts  of two services at a United Chruch of Christ church.  A granddaughter was singing in a youth choir.

As some know, the UCC denomination is regarded as “Christianity Lite” by many other branches of the faith.  It has endorsed gay marriages for over a decade.

The parts of the services I attended included the pastor’s opening remarks, some remarks prior to reading the weekly passage of scripture and the welcome. I was there about fifteen minutes and was unable to stay for the sermons.

During those fifteen minutes the word, “sin”, was menioned six times in each service.  The word “transgressions” was tossed in a time or two, so sin was uttered about every two minutes.

Thus, sin is still really big in the faith.  But, what is meant by sin remains unresolved.

I did learn a little about UCC’s approach to the Bible.  After the scripture, which was the story of Jesus fasting and Satan tempting him, the Associate Pastor uttering the words I paraphrase as, “May God help us figure out what that passage means.”

During the “welcome visitors” segement, there were two or three sentences devoted to welcoming all, “Gay, straight, or, some of each.”

My impression is it is a sin in the UCC denomination to condeme homosexual and trans gendered people.  That’s the opposite definition of sin in conservative Christianity.

Sin remains a large, but meaningless, concept.

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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53 Responses to Sin is Still BIG. But, What is it?

  1. Carr says:

    Is sin constant or has it morphed over time? In OT, no pork, no shell fish, no sex with a woman during certain times of the month or for periods longer after she gives birth to a female child. Is there a hierarchy of sin? Is homosexuality worse than bearing false witness against your neighbor or cursing at God? Just a question that I am sure of which there are a million answers that are the “truth”. Maybe sin is defined by those who want to control.

    • entech says:

      … Just a question that I am sure of which there are a million answers …
      That is the whole thing in an attempt to explain everything, to answer every objection, nothing ever gets a satisfactory answer. And as a last resort (or two) God in mysterious ways and the old doesn’t count only the new version from Paul is real, or perhaps a third, free will.

  2. Avatar of Mac Mac says:

    Carr, when I’ve asked that question to fundamentalists, they reply that all sin is equally bad. My observation has been that is not what they really believe.

  3. Country Parson says:

    I would like to suggest you read something Hobart Mauer, sometimes called “The Atheist that Atheists Love to Hate” wrote in 1960. He wrote an article entitled “Sin, the Lesser of Two Evils,” in The American Psychologist magazine. In it he said, “For several decades we psychologists have looked upon the whole matter of sin and moral accountability as a great incubus and we have acclaimed our freedom from it as epic making. But at length we have discovered to be free in this sense to have the excuse of being sick rather than being sinful is to also court the danger of becoming lost. In becoming amoral, ethically neutral and free, we have cut the very roots of our being, lost our deepest sense of selfhood and identity. And with neurotics themselves, asking, “Who am I? What is my deepest destiny? And what does living really mean?”

    His letter generated so much controversy that in a follow up article he clarified writing, “If we merely call it wrong-doing, we do not understand the gravity of what it is to violate some of these moral laws from which we are trying to break ourselves away.”

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Country 2:51 Thank you for the interesting first time comment.

      It would understandable in 1960 the idea that morals are attached to religion was common and efforts to detach it would be overruled.

      At that time, homosexuality was considered an illness by the psychiatric profession. If there was agreement today on what sin is, it would be easier to treat is as something meaningful and important.

      All of us would enjoy hearing more of your views.

      • Henry says:

        Jon:“At that time, homosexuality was considered an illness by the psychiatric profession.”

        Child pornographer/cinematographer/researcher Kinsey was the basis for the APA amending their DSM, and thus making homosexuality medically legitimate.

        • Les Wilson says:

          Religionists love to hate on Alfred Kinsey, a renowned sex researcher who was also a socially progressive gay atheist. Some have gone so far as to accuse him of causing the Catholic pedophilia scandal! Unlike many Catholic priests, he was never charged with child pornography.

          • Michael Ross says:

            “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.”
            Margaret Sanger: founder of Planned Parenthood. December 10, 1939

            Also “socially progressive”

          • Henry says:

            Never charged with child pornography while doing his filming of children, that is true. That makes it better. {/sarcasm}

  4. Les Wilson says:

    Religionists also love to hate on pioneering women’s rights advocate Margaret Sanger.

    Michael Ross’ conveniently selective, partial quote from her is deceitful.

    Wikipedia puts the quote in context:

    From 1939 to 1942 Sanger was an honorary delegate of the Birth Control Federation of America, which included a supervisory role — alongside Mary Lasker and Clarence Gamble — in the Negro Project, an effort to deliver birth control to poor blacks.[89] Sanger wanted the Negro Project to include black ministers in leadership roles, but other supervisors did not. To emphasize the benefits of involving black community leaders, she wrote to Gamble “we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” This quote has been cited by Angela Davis to support her claims that Sanger wanted to exterminate black people.[90] However, New York University’s Margaret Sanger Papers Project, argues that in writing that letter, “Sanger recognized that elements within the black community might mistakenly associate the Negro Project with racist sterilization campaigns in the Jim Crow South, unless clergy and other community leaders spread the word that the Project had a humanitarian aim.”[91]

    Isn’t lying via deceit a sin for Christians?

    • Carr says:

      Boom! Game, set, match! Thank you!

    • Adam Heckathorn says:

      When I read this Michael Ross 7:24 I didn’t read beyond but researched on the internet. I copied the info to paste only to find it had already been done. I have a lot of sympathy for the slandered having been slandered by People with authority among JW’s. I find it interesting that the very name devil means slanderer. *** it-1 p. 621 Devil ***
      The Greek di·a?bo·los means “slanderer.” (Compare Lu 16:1, where the related verb di·a·bal?lo occurs.)—See SATAN. This is copied out of a reference book printed by JW’s. Michael I look forward to reading Your opinions in the future. You have done Me a service in confirming many of the things I’ve said and believed about faith and what it tends to enable.

    • entech says:

      That is just not fare, almost say it was persecution to say lying and deceitful. It is just selective quoting, same as they do from their “good” book, see even the “good” part is selective. Select to leave out or ignore the bits they don’t like, my current favourite is the wicked slaughter of all the first born sons of Egypt, I guess others think there are worse things in the book.

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        Entech 12:56 Maybe Your right. I admit to being Hypersensitive about Slander. The People that slandered Me admit to slandering Me but justify it because of their noble purpose to gain guardianship over My Wife and seek alternative medicine for Her severe brain injury. They told Me they were going to keep Her for a year return Her to perfect health and I was going to be grateful. that was about eight years ago.

    • Avatar of realist realist says:

      The propagation of selective quotations has become a cottage industry among the conservative right. What I don’t understand is how person doing the quoting can be so gullible. Tell us your take on the expanded quotation, Michael. Surely you want to tell us why you do this.

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        Realist 1:50 Almost every morning as I sit here reading some of these things I find Myself laughing out loud. I also enjoy the mental stimulation of the thoughts of others on various subjects.

    • Michael Ross says:

      “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.”
      ~Margaret Sanger
      To her “birth control” was abortion

      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_ZjrrYYuebok/TURrXzqVNLI/AAAAAAAAAt4/5gmGGZjIqYo/s1600/Margaret+Sanger+and+KKK.jpg

      • Michael Ross says:

        Early feminists and “social progressives”

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        I don’t know Michael is that the whole quote? Is that a real undoctored picture? I can’t Imagine KKKers agreeing with Sangers views what little I know Her views. I just read the whole Wikipedia article and She was very clearly against abortion because to Her it was taking life.

        • Michael Ross says:

          I stand corrected. Her primary birth control was eugenics and sterilization of the unfit, morons and other “human weeds”:

          “(It) makes possible the spread of scientific knowledge of the elements of sound breeding. It makes possible the creation of a new race; a new generation brought into this world consciously conceived. It makes possible the breeding out of human weeds-the defective and criminal classes-(and) the breeding in of the clean, strong and fit instruments to carry the torch of human destiny.”
          ~Margaret Sanger

          If she opposed abortion it is ironic that her organization, Planned Parenthood, is the worlds leading provider of
          abortions.

      • entech says:

        An old picture, obviously before Photoshop. When cut and paste was quite literally done with a pair of blunt scissors and flour and water paste.

    • David says:

      She may have been a pioneering “women’s right” agitator, but one cannot deny she was an advocate in the eugenic’s movement. Much of the of the progressive world advocated Eugenics. An interesting read that goes over some of the history is Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism. One should not be surprised that progressives were in favor of exterminating the weak and feeble minded. As part of creating a planned society one can go to great lengths to make it better. Violation of human rights is just one casualty on the road to perfection. I agree that blacks were not necessarily targeted – albeit Wilson certainly held a contempt for blacks.

      It was the weakest in society – the feeble minded, the mentally retarded – that were without value and needed serious sterilization. I think the mentality is best expressed, “Just enough of me – way too much of you.” What’s interesting is that her goal was the same as those in the Jim Crow South. She just was smarter and had academic intentions. She planned on using Black ministers to quell any “rebellious” members of the black community. This way they wouldn’t have to rely on someone real smart like Sanger to let any uppity, rebellious blacks know when they can have babies. The ministers could do the dirty work. So that makes it all better.

      Good thing the Catholic Church was around to resist the Eugenics movement.

  5. Henry says:

    I allege that Michael Ross is being slandered. There seems to be a little Sanger history that is being cleaned up a bit with recent efforts.

    http://www.blackgenocide.org/sanger.html

    • Adam Heckathorn says:

      Here’s a paragraph out of the blackgenocide.org article I think it needs no futher commentary. These eugenic and racial origins are hardly what most people associate with the modern Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), which gave its Margaret Sanger award to the late Dr. Martin Luther King in 1966, and whose current president, Faye Wattleton, is black, a former nurse, and attractive.

      • Henry says:

        Like I said, they have cleaned up her image quite a bit.

        I allege Michael Ross has been slandered.

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        Alright I admit it I can’t help Myself let Me add further commentary “and attractive” Her being attractive has nothing to do with this paragraph or the preceding or following paragraph or the rest of the article for that matter am I missing something?

        • Henry says:

          Yes, there is. Where is your hypersensitivity to Michael being slandered?

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            Well let Me see now. Michael wrote “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.” But the actual quote was “we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” This quote has been cited by Angela Davis to support her claims that Sanger wanted to exterminate black people.[90] However, New York University’s Margaret Sanger Papers Project, argues that in writing that letter, “Sanger recognized that elements within the black community might mistakenly associate the Negro Project with racist sterilization campaigns in the Jim Crow South, unless clergy and other community leaders spread the word that the Project had a humanitarian aim.”[91] What reasonable conclusion should I come to? At the very least there seems to be an eagerness to accept any writings no matter how unreasonable or unlikely to be accurate if they support Michael’s position. Let Me once again advocate for Reason for Education for The Scientific Method for deducing facts. I used to bid Drywall and as I’m dyslexic I had to be very careful to get My facts right. Drywall is bid on the square foot and sometimes there are hundreds of square feet to bid get a decimal point wrong and you’ve lost any hope of getting the job or worse yet You get the job and potentially go bankrupt. I believe We can be taught to reason and that is a good thing. When the Kid knocks over the convenience store for $50 and shoots someone I think could We have spent a little more money educating this Child to make reasoned decisions? Religions tend to discourage reasoning.

          • Henry says:

            Michael’s original comment fit within the context of Sanger’s history, which is large. Push and shove all you want.

  6. Adam Heckathorn says:

    I meant to say” hundreds of thousands of square feet.”

  7. Les Wilson says:

    “Henry says: March 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm Michael’s original comment fit within the context of Sanger’s history, which is large. Push and shove all you want.”

    It seems Henry is trying to justify sinful lying. A lie isn’t a “sin” if it supports his religion’s agenda.

    The Ten Commandments would be quite a complex, lengthy document if it included all the lame excuses Christians use to rationalize their wicked behavior.

    • Henry says:

      Thank you, Les for the very quick judgement. Maybe Les should become more acquainted with Ms. Sanger. I would agree she does have a spruced-up image with some amount of work exerted. Squeeky clean hero status. That doesn’t change history for which a large volume of material exists. She was a very busy woman in an era that was distinctly different than today.

    • entech says:

      It is not so much that Henry tries to justify lying, he just has his own interpretation of the world.
      If you don’t believe you are wrong.
      If you do believe you are right.
      If a couple of words can be used against you, volumes can be dismissed.

      Unfortunately I can’t say this without Henry thinking it is a personal attack, I don’t mean it that way, he can’t help the way he’s has been taught about scripture being the only necessity and so many things beyond his control. It is not his fault if he wouldn’t recognize the truth if it jumped and bit him on the nose or some other protuberance.

      In the vein of all this quote mining:
      Bush was into eugenics and a great Nazi sympathiser. Must be true its on the internet.

      • Henry says:

        entech:“Must be true its on the internet.”

        Thank you, algore.

        What does an ausie know about American politics?

        • entech says:

          Zilch, nothing, nada I think are the usual epithets in American vocabulary.

          Which is -

          About the same as you know about anything not passing the test of scripture.

  8. H.P.Drifter says:

    Isn’t is funny (strange) that right wing Christians have taken over the no abortion stance and made it their own. Yet they would deny social program funding that would help young women, learn about contraception and how to avoid unwanted pregnancies and help women that decide not to have abortions. They would also stop funding for federal programs that would raise the standard of living for unwed mothers, and see they would get an education, so they could support their children. Sounds like a contradiction in terms when it comes to doing the right thing. Yet the right wing fundamentalist group of Christians are mostly selfish bastards anyway, so it makes sense. Giving Christians everywhere a bad name, which they don’t need, just makes religion more uglier than it needs to be.
    44 million abortions are preformed every year world wide. Half of these abortions are illegals and cause 5 million unnecessary medical hospital admissions every year. Money that could fully fund a world wide comprehensive contraception effort.
    Dragging out these old facts (the cut and paste crowd) makes for more fear mongering. The article written about book published in the 1960′s has been debunked by every major Atheist organization, bringing this trash to the blog is like bringing a Hustler Magazine to Girl Scout function, poor taste to say the list.
    Now if Planned Parent Hood had gone the way of the people that would prefer eugenics and sterilization of unfit moms and other human weeds, then this blog would be lacking several contributors, all right wing zealots.
    Christian compassion is no compassion at all, the Christian bloggers we have here make a very good case for this point of view.

    H.P.D.

    • Henry says:

      HP:….”bringing this trash to the blog is like bringing a Hustler Magazine to Girl Scout function, poor taste to say the list.”

      We now have the king of clean, Mr. HP, instructing us how not to exercise poor taste.

      HP, you really need to express yourself by involving yourself in the arts more. You have much pent-up anger that needs constructive release. If you do not have the arts available to unwind, you should consider moving to a locale that does.

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        Hello Henry I don’t think You addressed any of what seem to Me to be valid points by H.P.

        • Henry says:

          Hello Adam. Which point would you like me to address? Should I address his point of “Yet the right wing fundamentalist group of Christians are mostly selfish bastards anyway”? I have some friends in the right wing fundamentalist group. None of them are bastards as he alleges. With this vicious untruth and personal attack on them and their mothers, I really question your distinct lack of hypersensitivity to his slander. You earlier upheld yourself as the king of hypersensitivity to slander. Here is your opportunity, a softball pitched that you can hit out of the ballpark. Go get him. Sic ‘em!

        • Henry says:

          Hello? Adam?

        • Henry says:

          Hello? Adam?

    • David says:

      When has a federally funded program raised the standard of living for unwed mothers? We have dropped trillions into addressing the issue of the poor and they are still with us. Perhaps, just perhaps, the right wingers you disparage look at the situation differently. They may believe that encouraging contraception increases the likelihood of sexual activity outside of marriage. A society where sexual activity outside of marriage is encouraged may increase the number of unwed mothers. They may also believe that an unwed mother’s prospects are generally poorer – not to mention those of her children. So a right winger may wish to encourage marriage – not because the “bible told me so,” but because it’s actually benefits women and children. And it may be that right wingers do not support programs for unwed mothers because they are a substitute for fathers. These heartless right wingers may actually believe that most unwed mothers don’t do well until they are able to get married and have two incomes, additional emotional support, additional child care, an additional safety net that comes from having a husband. It could be that the Liberal Atheist is the selfish bastard who would rather throw money at a problem so they could claim the mantel of self-righteousness than actually encourage a society where there are fewer problems. Maybe just maybe right wingers are not heartless, but rather see the problem differently.

      With regard to Eugenics and Planned Parenthood – the connection is there. It’s fact. It’s a fact that many in the Progressive movement in the 1930′s were in favor of Eugenics. Sanger was an advocate of negative eugenics. She made an easy transition into the population control crowd. Just enough people like her – way too many little brown people in India. Be in favor of abortion rights if you like. Make whatever good arguments you can find. Whitewashing history just points to the blinkered idea that all Liberals are good and all Conservatives are bad. This is unexamined and silly thinking.

  9. Adam Heckathorn says:

    When has a federally funded program raised the standard of living for unwed mothers? I would say over and over starting with wick, foodstamps, federal housing programs I’ve twice rented houses to unwed Mothers through section 8 Who both turned out to be irresponsible but at least their Children had the advantage of long term stable housing.

    • David says:

      I don’t know if you saw the movie Office Space, but there is a line in the movie where a worker says something to the effect that he is motivated to do just enough work not to get fired. I would posit that, while these programs are well intentioned, they do not “raise” the standard of living but rather cement people into a lifestyle of doing only enough so that they do not lose their qualification to remain on the program. Lots of success stories that should be cheered for sure. I think largely the programs do not make people upwardly mobile and self sufficient.

      • josh says:

        What it does is turn people into pieces of shit. Not that most of those people weren’t pieces of shit to begin with, but as you said now they’re cemented pieces of shit and have absolutely no chance of escaping the system. In fact now their children will become pieces of shit and the cycle will continue.

        • Henry says:

          Josh, you followed up an eloquent comment from David by incorporating methods of HP’s, that is a Phase II Freudian fixation.

          • josh says:

            Sorry if you disagree, but i call them as i see them.
            The entitlement mentality and those who embrace it are imho pieces of shit or parasites if you want me to be more specific. They’re just eaters and offer nothing to society.

          • josh says:

            No fixation Henry. Just a derogatory term to convey how I measure those peoples lives in the pecking order of reality. You don’t get much lower than a piece of shit.

          • Henry says:

            Aren’t we all a worm? We live with original sin.

          • josh says:

            Yes, but we are baptized et our sin is washed away, that burden is given up to god. these pos use and abuse their fellow man et then behave with the rabid entitlement mentality.

    • josh says:

      Get real Adam!

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