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What SIN means to me.

Updated on May 25, 2012

God Hates Shrimp?

“Be a sinner and sin strongly, but more strongly have faith and rejoice in Christ.” Martin Luther offered these words to his followers during the Protestant Reformation. The Christian church teaches its followers that not one amongst us is without sin, and any televangelist will tell you that the only way to wash those sins away is with “The Power of The Lord!” Catholics go to confession, where the phrase of the day is “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned”, and Judeo-Christian religions agree that the wages of sin are death, but whose job is it to define the parameters of sin?

Transgression, offense, misdeed, and trespass are all literal translations of the word sin. Original sin is described in the Christian faith as the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam, who sinned with Eve in the Garden of Eden by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Catholic Church teaches against the practice of the seven Cardinal Sins: Lust, greed, sloth, envy, pride, wrath, and gluttony. The Holy Bible, the Torah, and the Qur’an all include versions of the sermon on the mount, which tells the story of God presenting Moses with the ten commandments:

I. "You shall have no other gods before me.”

II. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.”

III."You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God.”

IV. "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”

V. "Honor your father and your mother.”

VI. "You shall not murder.”

VII. "You shall not commit adultery.”

VIII. "You shall not steal.”

IX. "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

X. "You shall not covet … anything that belongs to your neighbor."

While I agree that many widely accepted religious tenets are good practice, there are more than a few that I do not think qualify as offenses worthy of damnation. In the Holy Bible, the book of Leviticus states that to eat shrimp, rabbit or pig would make you unclean, that you should not wear clothing woven of two different kinds of material, that any woman who gives birth to a girl child must be quarantined for 80 days, and that anyone who touches her during that time is unclean. The word of the Lord in these cases is “Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live will not vomit you out.” (Lev. 22 NIV)

I’m sure that every new mother would love to have 80 days off for a bit of rest and relaxation, but who has time these days to worry about being unclean when there are bills to pay? I’m certainly not going to tell Portland’s many homeless that this land is going to vomit them out because they are trying to keep warm with a cotton-polyester layer or two, and with the world’s population growing larger every day, who are we to say what a person can or cannot eat?

I think that the basic precepts on which most religions are founded are solid advice for a happy society, but many of the particular laws found in holy texts either make no sense or are impractical in today’s world and should be taken with a grain of salt. Just make sure it’s not Lot’s wife first.


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