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Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The Many Faces of Sin

The New Testament term for sin, hamartia, comes from the sport of archery; literally, it means “missing the mark.” New Testament sources teach that we suffer distress, mental and physical, because we fail to achieve the moral goal toward which we aim: “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” --- Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels

I have read this idea many times and places over the years. I'm currently rereading this book, and it seemed to me we might discuss this idea.

The idea of sin has occupied the hearts and minds of people for eons. Some claim it to be the work of evil forces. Some say one dip into it means torture for all eternity. Some have said all you have to do is pay a penance, and you're off the hook. Some say all you have to do is believe a certain way or in a certain person.

What is defined as sin is different in different times and cultures. What is defined as sin right now varies wildly. In general, the 10 Commandments have been a basic guide to stay out of sin for many people, and as an under-girding for much of the world.

Considering the archery reference for sin is incredibly helpful. It takes sin out of some dark metaphysical place to personal evaluation and personal responsibility. When we do not honor our own moral compass, we create problems at every level for ourselves and others. And then we can re-aim, try again and get closer and closer to that which our inner self knows is the right and moral thing to do and to be.

My long time guide to check oneself out comes to play here  - What would I think or do or say if I stood in the Presence of God? For I do in fact stand there now and always.

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