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The Definition of Sin
freelanceangel
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Post: #1
The Definition of Sin
How do you define sin?


Sin:

1 a: an offense against religious or moral law b: an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible <it's a sin to waste food> c: an often serious shortcoming : fault
2 a: transgression of the law of God b: a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God


This is a question I've been asking for the last couple of days or so, and I'm curious to see how everyone else would define sin.
In The Mists of Avalon, one of the recurring themes is, in fact, the definition of sin. What makes a sin? Marion Zimmer Bradley, in her book, defines sin as "action with the intent to do evil." I tend to believe this definition, simply because 'sin' considered as an offense against moral law leaves out a LOT.

Take this into account-

Suppose that two people you know and love committed an act that would, by all definition, be considered an ultimate betrayal. These people care about you, and you care about them. They have, simply through action, hurt you beyond all imagination. However, they did so- not out of the desire to hurt, upset, betray or alienate you- out of intentions that, while they may not be 'good' as we define it, were not evil. They did so out of caring and love, but they were mistaken and misguided.

Did they sin? Or did they merely make a mistake?

What do you think? What is the definition of sin? Is there a difference between what you consider sin if you're personally involved? If you have to punish it? If it's just something that you hear of?

Another example: is it 'sin' for a woman to kill a man who's been abusing her for years? Why do many people excuse that in their minds? If murder is a sin- and by almost every moral compass in the world, it is- shouldn't she be considered a sinner? Why do so many of us then think it's justified?

^_^ I love posting random questions like this.

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2008-08-29 14:31
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Post: #2
Re: The Definition of Sin
I am of the school of thought that nothing you ever do is ever done completely without personal gain.
We do "good" because of he warm fuzzy feelings that other's appreciation and thanks give us. We give food to the starving because it makes us feel better about ourselves. It allows us the chance to see ourselves as generous and kind and giving and all that jazz, and without that increased sensation of self worth, I believe, no one would ever do "good" at all.
So what is sin really?, it's not acting out of self-interest as we all do that all the time.
Sin is, from my standpoint, any action where the self-interest blocks out any thoughts of the effect on others. As in, any regard for others is out the windown because I want what I want and to hell with anyone and everyone else. It's the "choice" to disregard others and the effect you have on them because you want what you want. It's regressing to that state of a two year old (who are excempt from this rule as they do not posess the psychological nor intellectual ability to comprehend that their actions are adversedly affecting others) and choosing to stay in that state, and damn the consequenses.
It's choosing not to pay taxes, not because you can't afford them, not because you think they'er unjust, but because you just don't "want" to.
It's choosing to lie, cheat, and steal, not because of any necessity, not because of any instinct towards your own or others' preservation but expressedly because you "want" to and "choose" to with no regard to what it does to those around you.

I suppose it shows that I don't believe in "good" or "evil" per say, but I do believe that actions are either detrimental or constructive to the society/community that one is a part of and that acting out against that society/community is not only detrimental to the community/society but ultimately to one self as being a member of that "whole", what affects it, affects you, and disregarding that, denying that, and treating the community/society as if it is a seperate enetity that does not affect you and as such is yours to kick around at your leisure is the closest thing to that which I would consider a sin.
(The terms society and community here being used to represent anything from a duality or partnership to an entire country. It represents each and every "network" we belong to, be it family, friends, town, state, country, world or even an interenet forum.)

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2008-08-29 15:29
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Taiaka
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Post: #3
Re: The Definition of Sin
You know what they say, the road to hell is paved in good intentions.

I'm kinda glad you posed this question though, I've never really thought too much on the definition of a sin. I've nevr been a religious person, faithful yes, but I've never had my moral compass' needle turned for me.

Its all about perspective really, right? A man steals a loaf of bread because his family is starving. To his wife and children, and in their shame, he is not a theif, he is a savior. Petty example I know, but its the perspective of the situation, like your example about an abused wife killing her husband because she couldn't take it anymore. Choices, choices, right? The wife could have gone to a home for abused women...Or maybe last time she did that, her husband fed their baby detergent out of spite. Is reaching one's breaking point a sin? Is breaking the law of man a sin? I guess it all comes down to the willingness to accept the consequences for your actions, no matter what they are.

"Will minus intellect constitutes vulgarity." -Arthur Schopenhauer


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2008-08-29 17:17
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Archer
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Post: #4
Re: The Definition of Sin
"Sin" is, IMO, nothing more than a loaded term used to describe acts or beliefs which are forbidden by the religious grouping that is using the term in the first place.

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2008-08-29 17:17
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Post: #5
Re: The Definition of Sin
Freetha Wrote:I am of the school of thought that nothing you ever do is ever done completely without personal gain.
We do "good" because of he warm fuzzy feelings that other's appreciation and thanks give us. We give food to the starving because it makes us feel better about ourselves. It allows us the chance to see ourselves as generous and kind and giving and all that jazz, and without that increased sensation of self worth, I believe, no one would ever do "good" at all.
So what is sin really?, it's not acting out of self-interest as we all do that all the time.

What about giving your life to step in front of the proverbial bullet for a loved one? No warm fuzziness in that sacrifice.

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2008-08-29 17:19
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Post: #6
Re: The Definition of Sin
Twilight Wrote:What about giving your life to step in front of the proverbial bullet for a loved one? No warm fuzziness in that sacrifice.
Arguably the most selfish act - forcing your loved one, whom loves you, to live on without you.

"Justice, like lightning, should appear, to few men's ruin but to all men's fear."

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2008-08-29 17:30
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Post: #7
Re: The Definition of Sin
Good point Selcar, but what about for your children? I know I would lay down my life for my son without second thought. He'd be forced to go on without me, but at least he'd go on. Guess its still selfish in a way, wanting my genes and my memory to live on in him. But at the moment, I doubt I would be thinking about myself.

How do sacrifices relate to sin then?

"Will minus intellect constitutes vulgarity." -Arthur Schopenhauer


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2008-08-29 17:41
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Post: #8
Re: The Definition of Sin
Taiaka Wrote:Good point Selcar, but what about for your children? I know I would lay down my life for my son without second thought. He'd be forced to go on without me, but at least he'd go on. Guess its still selfish in a way, wanting my genes and my memory to live on in him. But at the moment, I doubt I would be thinking about myself.

How do sacrifices relate to sin then?

First, I didn't say that "sin" is a self serving act, I said all acts are self serving.

The question as to stopping a bullet for someone is thus this, would you do that against your will?

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2008-08-29 18:46
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Post: #9
Re: The Definition of Sin
Well, I don't really subscribe to your belief that all acts are self serving. Sacrifices for personal gain aren't really sacrifices at all, no? Sure there's the natural need to preserve oneself, survival instinct at the cost of all others, but that's more animal instinct than a moral compass. But I think, if the situation called for it, I would do a lot of sacrificing against my will. People like to talk about the 'greater good' (which nearly brings us back to the role of the term 'sin'). I think its absolutely plausible for a person to sacrifice all they are and all they believe for a cause greater than themselves.

"Will minus intellect constitutes vulgarity." -Arthur Schopenhauer


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2008-08-29 19:20
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Post: #10
Re: The Definition of Sin
There's sin that's defined by a community, the shoulds and should nots that are generally there to keep everyone working together for the basic necessities of food, shelter and internet access.

Then there's personal sin, which I see as acting in a manner that goes against your path or way, breaking your own rules.

Unfortunately, the first and second don't always agree with each other.

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2008-08-30 1:08
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