Gordon Robinson | Sins of the Church
The Christian Church's most evil method of manipulating Christians into filling the Church's coffers is the teaching of 'sin'.
Somehow, the Church must obscure Jesus' teachings that we're all born in the image and likeness of God with inherent worth and dignity. If that philosophy is taken as correct without reservation, it causes theological conundrums. First, our foibles, flaws, eccentricities, personality defects and disorders would all be understood to come from God and have a positive, life-affirming, divine purpose (Romans 8:28).
We wouldn't fear God for any reason, but certainly not because we might do 'wrong' and be punished eternally. 'Wrong' is as essential to this relative world as 'right', as the one can't be recognised without the other. How would God, existing as absolute power, glory and righteousness, become whole without experiencing everything, including 'wrong'? So God creates a relative universe so God can experience both sides now rather than merely know about them.
I've looked at love from both sides now;
from give and take, and, still somehow,
it's love's illusions I recall.
I really don't know love at all.
God created this relative world to experience what God already knew. When God saw God's creation was good for purpose, God sent billions of little pieces of God here mostly through the miracle of conception and birth to facilitate God's experience of relative reality. Foreseeing conflict, God assured us we're all born in the image and likeness of God with inherent worth and dignity. Then God gave us free will to experience, through us, every aspect of relativity (light and dark; wealth and poverty; right and wrong).
If only we'd believed - like Jesus, we'd need no Church. But foolish man created Church to manipulate and control other men's minds and, to THAT end, blurred that divine message's basic meaning. So, we're brainwashed to believe we're all born sinful. Please stop and think about that nonsense. BORN sinful? How? Why? Was Heaven conquered by Stannis Baratheon? Discarding Jesus' all-embracing message of love, the Church relies heavily on the Old Testament (OT) to set human against human; instill fear of our own Creator; and put some of us above others. Hence, we're broken images. Using fairy tales starring talking snakes and vengeful Gods, we're told we're like broken glass that has value but unable to fully reflect the richness of God's image. What next? Dungeons and Dragons?
By this twisted logic, the Church would have us believe God's plan to create us in God's image has somehow been thwarted. How, or by who, isn't specified but the good news is there's hope for salvation. Guess where? Why, Church of course. Just keep cash flowing into the plate; do as Pastor says; and your way to Heaven is guaranteed.
Some churches actually categorise sins into serious sins and 'cho-man-no-bodda-bout-dat' sins. These are mortal and venial sins.
Roman Catholic Church Catechism provides:
" Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God ... by preferring an inferior good to him. Venial sin allows charity to subsist, though it offends and wounds it.
 Mortal sin ... results in ... the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell ... .
 One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or complete consent."
No point telling priests these words don't appear anywhere in the Bible. They'll tell you to read Matthew 5:19:
"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (King James)
The argument is "one of these least commandments" must mean some commandments are more important than others (e.g., "Thou shalt not kill" as opposed to "thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's Prado"). Hence some sins are de minimis (venial) and others significant (mortal). For a mortal sin, if you don't sincerely repent, you'll go directly to Hell and suffer eternal damnation.
If people didn't take this crap so utterly seriously, it would be funny as Hell (pardon the pun). To begin with, as I've explained before, God never gave us a single 'commandment'. Only an idiot doles out free will and then tells you what to do with it. The word 'commandment' doesn't appear in Exodus. God reportedly offered a 'covenant' (i.e., 'unilateral contract'). God's promise: If you love the Lord with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself, you'll 'live good' (Note use of future tense, 'thou shalt not ... ').
So, no 'commandments'; none 'least' or 'most'; and mortal/venial sins are worthless, wicked lies perpetrated by the Church the better to capture your cash. The Church also cites Matthew 5: 22 and 28-29 (better to lose a piece than condemn the whole body to Hell); Matthew 12:32 (speaking against Jesus forgivable but not speaking against Holy Spirit); and I John 5:16-18 ('deadly sin' and 'not deadly sin'). Let's examine these doctrinaire messages philosophically.
Somewhere in Christianity, an unemployed, undereducated 19-year-old man finds himself inexplicably, helplessly in love with another man. He still lives with his deeply religious parents who have regularly, loudly condemned homosexuality as an abomination and recommended homosexuals be put to death. How does the youth think himself out of his abominable predicament?
I've got to go back home.
This couldn't be my home.
It must be somewhere else
or I would kill myself".
What future can this confused, depressed youth see? He can't afford to leave his parents' home; he's made to feel utterly ashamed of his love for another man; he can't speak to anyone, least of all his priest; so he travels more and more inward.
There is no gladness;
nothing but sadness.
Nothing like a future here.
I've got to, got to leave this land.
I've got to find myself on some other side
I just can't stand this lie of living ... .
I've got to go back home.
One night, trapped by helplessness and hopelessness, he goes home to God by committing suicide.
Somewhere in Islam, an unemployed, undereducated 19-year-old Muslim man still lives with his deeply religious parents who send him to the district's radical imam when he expresses feelings of depression and hopelessness. The imam tells him he's important to the Muslim cause; straps a bomb around the 19-year-old's waist; and sends him to blow himself up in a Christian gathering. Depending on the number of infidels he eliminates, he's assured he'll be a martyr and have 73 virgins in paradise. Apparently, the dead infidels won't be so lucky.
Condemned to hell
According to the Christian Church, the confused, undereducated Christian youth who physically hurt only himself committed a mortal sin. He's in no position to repent, so is condemned to everlasting hellfire. According to Islam, the confused, undereducated Muslim youth who killed many Christians is a martyr and will be rewarded in paradise.
Really? Seriously? If radical Muslim teaching is real, why don't ALL radical Muslims, especially leaders, strap bombs around THEIR waists and blow themselves up at Christian gatherings? Why only send gullible youth? Don't leaders want to be martyrs, too?
If Christian teaching is real, what's the responsibility of the Christian Church which taught the youth, from birth, that he's a broken image; a sinner; has become an abomination unto the Lord; and should be put to death if he acts on his same-sex attraction?
Mortal sin, schmortal sin. We're ALL human; ALL equal in God's eyes; ALL serve God's purpose. Jesus died for the remission of ALL sin.
But these inconvenient truths don't suit the Church or its purpose because of the Church's overriding principle that all Christians are created equal but some are more equal than others.
Two profoundly philosophical songs feature this week. Both Sides Now is about perspective. Joni Mitchell wrote it in 1967 after reading a book on a plane (Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King; Henderson is in a plane looking down at clouds) and then she looked down at clouds from the plane. I've Got to Go Back Home by Keith (Bob Andy) Anderson isn't about missing Jamaica but about the hopelessness of 1960s Jamaican life for a depressed teenager with no education, no inheritance and the urge to escape to Africa.
Peace and love.
- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.