Some thoughts on using the words sin and sinner

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  1. Don W profile image83
    Don Wposted 13 years ago

    Okay, so some of the issues between Christians and non-Christians relate to fundamental differences in belief. But some are caused by communications problems.

    The words 'sin' and 'sinner' have very specific meanings, and are tantamount to technical terms in the context of Christianity. But they also have other connotations which non-Christians respond to negatively. So some thoughts for you to ignore, disagree with, laugh at or contemplate as you wish:   

    Non Christians
    When a Christian uses these words with a non Christian what sometimes happens is that the non-Christian projects what they take the words to mean, and then think the Christian is placing some kind of value judgement on them. But the Christian is actually just stating something which is a matter of fact according to his or her belief. According to that belief an act or omission which transgresses divine law is called a 'sin', and someone who commits such an act or omission is a 'sinner'.

    Of course, you may not believe in god and/or divine law. You may reject the idea totally. But that doesn't change the fact that you meet the definition of a something called a 'sinner' in Christian belief. That isn't necessarily a value judgement. In using the word 'sin' and 'sinner' Christians are using the terms of Christianity to state something according to their beliefs. No more, no less.

    In fact often the opposite of a value-judgement is being made. Most honest Christians would refer to themselves as sinners. For Christians anyone who never sins is perfect, and their belief is that no human being is perfect. So sometimes it's not so much a case of suggesting they are 'better' than you, as it is trying to tell you something they believe is vital to your well-being. It isn't always about a value-judgement being made. Therefore getting 'offended' doesn't have to be the default state whenever these words are mentioned.

    It may well be stating a fact according to your belief, to call someone a sinner. However, if once upon a time you forgot to pay for an item at the supermarket and was prosecuted and convicted of theft, then by definition you'd be a criminal. A criminal is someone who has transgressed the law. So if I would it would be technically correct to refer to you as a criminal.

    However, how would it make you feel to be called a criminal? How would it make you feel to be placed in the same category as murderers and rapists? Even though you know you meet the definition of a criminal, would you honestly want to be referred to as such? I believe that's the issue non-Christians are bringing to you when they complain about being called 'sinners'. Murderers and rapists etc are sinners, and someone who lives a life that does not conform to Christian teaching in some lesser way may also be a sinner by definition.

    In the same way being called a criminal has negative connotations for you, being called a sinner has negative connotations for non-Christians. Yes an ordinary person may be a sinner by definition, but so is a rapist or murderer. There's no differentiation between these. Ordinary people don't want to be referred to in a way that places them in the same category as this. So this might be a situation where it's helpful to modify your language in order to account for the fact that the some non-Christians you are talking to may take offence at being called a sinner, due to the connotations.

    I've generalised 'Christians' and 'non-Christians' for the sake of convenience. So by 'you' I don't necessarily mean you personally. These were just some thoughts on the subject, what are yours?

    1. profile image0
      Twenty One Daysposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Supplying further sensationalism to an already defunct argument --from present religionists and ex-religionists, merely continues to fuel an unsatisfied claim, belief.

      Just look at them Don:

      Earnest, Knowles, et al, berating and chastising / abusing really, their former love, while the lovers hold fast to their confusion, err confession and both conveniently quarrel, like they did ages ago. The Hunter and his wife.

      Silly really. Both still of the same root stock -self deception.
      One by proud, fruitless and outspoken obnoxious self-ism. The other by proud fruitless humble self-ism. Bad wine all around.

      A needy wine sack, useless and otherwise old and worn out. Angry because of that aging and uselessness, angry because their sack is empty. Needy beyond words. So freaking needy.

      Whine, the mocker --and how they mock;
      Strong drink a fighter --and oh how they fight for their beliefs and non-beliefs.

      Spoiled, rotten, to the core; bastard children of their own making, their own ideologies, their own undoing.

      1. Mark Knowles profile image60
        Mark Knowlesposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Personal attacks tend to be the most vitriolic from you religionists. Especially the ones who claim some esoteric knowledge.

        As a matter of fact - I have never believed the god rubbish and Y'achoo story. I understand it a lot better than you appear to do. I certainly have never been a religionist - I know that making things up in order to better fit your irrational belief system is par for the course for you guys, but please.

        I genuinely do not care if people want to believe in an invisible super being. The problem I have is the forcing it on others - as it was forced on me as a child - and hypocritical religionists such as yourself. Tell me about the 800 year old man again - I like that one best. lol

        Physician - heal thyself, because you are doing nothing to convince me you live by grace and have anything to offer other than angry semantics and veiled personal attacks - just like all the other religionists.. wink

        As far as the term sin goes - I like it no more or less than any other judgment cast at me. Christians tell me I am a sinner all the time.

        I tell them to stick it in the same way I tell James to stick his poorly thought out judgment of me. Or the same as I would do if some one accused me of an actual crime. There is no getting away from the negative connotations of the word - but in good religiosity - there are multiple meanings.

        1. h.a.borcich profile image59
          h.a.borcichposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          Hi Mark,
            How do you define religionist? I am just asking the question to better understand your post above.
            By the way, thnks for the pass. I needed it when I got lost going to Joanne Fabrics smile

          1. Mark Knowles profile image60
            Mark Knowlesposted 13 years agoin reply to this

            Religionists are people who actively sell and push their beliefs, yet do not live them - as opposed to religious people who live them. By and large - I have no problem with religious people - I do have a problem with religionists.

            Unfortunately the former tend to jump in to defend the latter for some reason. wink

            Lost me at the pass. big_smile

      2. Don W profile image83
        Don Wposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Very poetic. And I agree, selfism abounds in many guises, humble and proud. Poetic even smile. The unruly offspring of hedonism has a lot to answer. But words that sting the listener, can obscure their intended sentiment.

        Besides, we are made. Bubbled in a cauldron of post-modern forces. Trained from the cradle in defiance of our nature. Products of our time. So to the artist, philosopher, thinker who sees through the veil; I ask sympathy for us, bound as we are by these foibles. Bound as we are within an historical context. Bound as we are by what is the most profane, most sacred, most magical credo of our time: "I'm worth it". The self-god must truly be pleased.

        1. profile image0
          Twenty One Daysposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          touche poetic! smile

          And yes, I come off at times, harsh, but in truth, my level of compassion and sympathy are always a surprise to me. But, you mentioned an excellent point: the self-god. This is the root from which the preset human stock is from. The Offspring of Choice.

          On the upside, it is beginning to make its way out of people and a new shoot is sprouting. I am glad for them and for anyone who will enjoy the fruit of it. Who knows, many this is what was to occur, in order to bring that self-god into the light and remove it...

    2. IntimatEvolution profile image69
      IntimatEvolutionposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      You should copy all your text here, and make a hub.  At least try to make some money out of your message.  You can then put direct backlinks into your article posting back to this forum topic.

      Just some food for thought, seeing how I don't have an opinion on the subject matter.  Sorry.

      1. Don W profile image83
        Don Wposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        I should. But it's nice to have some immediate feedback and discussion.

    3. Beelzedad profile image59
      Beelzedadposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      While I agree with much of your post, I think Christians and non-Christians don't really feel they are being labeled a sinner in the same way as one is labeled a criminal. If my understanding is correct, people are born "of the flesh" which is the essence of being a sinner, that they have yet to fulfill a spiritual "awakening or enlightenment" towards their gods, and until they do, will always be a sinner. It is this enlightenment they attempt to achieve which is the perfection you have referred. Hence, to be a sinner is to not have achieved this spiritual perfection as opposed to someone who has committed  a criminal offense.

      In other words, it's not like they've done something bad, as a criminal would against society, it's more like they haven't yet received all of their 'gold stars'. smile

      1. Jerami profile image59
        Jeramiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        I like that...   Kinda like swimming the British channel.
        You have not accomplished that feat, until you arrive on the other shore.

      2. Don W profile image83
        Don Wposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Okay, thanks for that. Useful to know all the different ways the idea of sin is conceptualised.

  2. Jerami profile image59
    Jeramiposted 13 years ago

    Very well stated.  I agree with everything you said.

      To me is seems that everything that is classified as not good for us is a sin. We are all doing something that is not good for us physically, mentally or spiritually.

       We all are doin it, We all know that we are doing it.
    I know I don't want to be told something like that that I know I'm doing.

       So why tell me unless I ask ya?

       On the other hand If you walk up while I'm talking about how dumb it is to ?????  ??   SAY ...    smoke cigarettes??
    I'd say "we were just talking about you" ...
    then change the subject or not?  Depending upon if I was getting ready to make an statement about some new information that I had heard.
        And if that wasn't the case?  That would mean that I was just gossiping and that is a worse sin.

       Something like that any way????

    1. Don W profile image83
      Don Wposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Yes some thought about how we communicate with those who share and do not share our beliefs can certainly help.

  3. profile image50
    paarsurreyposted 13 years ago

    Sin is doing something against the commandments of the Creator-God Allah YHWH or not doing which has been commanded by Him.

    Sinner is the person who does the above act.

    Since the above has been done by the Creator-God Allah YHWH for the benefit of man; hence it is also built-in in man's psyche or conscience and is also engrained in man's evolved nature as designed by the Creator-God Allah YHWH.

    So in this sense sinner is the person who does against his conscience or his mans in-built psyche or his true nature.

    1. Jerami profile image59
      Jeramiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      And what you said is included as things that are not good for us.

         It seems to me that what is written in scripture was an attempt to tell us everything that is not good for us to do.

         So I guess in that respect we could just sum it up as breaking Gods commandments, but another way of listing all of these commandments is to say "Every Thing That Isn't good for us if we do them?????   Maybe ???

    2. Don W profile image83
      Don Wposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I believe sin has been conveyed the same way within Christianity also. It certainly makes a difference how something is conveyed. I've also heard sin described by a Christian as an act which distances someone from god, and a sinner therefore as someone who is distant from god. Those ways of conveying the idea mean the same thing but don't have the same negative connotations associated with the words sin and sinner.

  4. Cagsil profile image73
    Cagsilposted 13 years ago

    Problem with the words "sin" and "sinner", is as you said- a "divine" law.

    Who is to say there is anything that is "divine" or "holy" or "sacred", for that fact.

    It's made up B.S. to control the masses. Period!

    1. Jerami profile image59
      Jeramiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      If you could not say that anything  is divine or holy or sac rid  why do you definitively say that the word sin  "IS" a "divine" law??

         I would guess, just for the sake of assertiveness.

      1. Cagsil profile image73
        Cagsilposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        I didn't say that "sin" IS a "divine" law. Christians do.

        WOW! roll

        1. Jerami profile image59
          Jeramiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          Good try...
          Cagsil wrote ... Problem with the words "sin" and "sinner", is a "divine" law (as you said)   

          I inverted a couple of words but didn't change the meaning.
          Not all Christians would agree that the word sin in is a "devine word".

             What is the definition of a divine word?

          1. Cagsil profile image73
            Cagsilposted 13 years agoin reply to this

            I realize you're not the brightest light bulb in the world, but I didn't think you were as dim as that.

            I used the words in that manner, due the fact that Christians, claim a "divine" law. DUH!
            Learn how to spell by the way. Your spelling is bad. Secondly, what Christians would not say it is "divine" law. They believe "god" is holy or divine. Thus, anything it/he/she says would be considered "divine" law.

            Use what brains you do have would you?

            I wouldn't have a clue, because the "divine" word is made up by man to insinuate something it's not.

            So, by all accounts there is no such thing as a divine words. DUH!

    2. Don W profile image83
      Don Wposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I think the problem is people not understanding that whether they believe in 'divine law' or not is irrelevant to the fact that others do, and use certain terms within their belief systems to convey ideas relating to it. What you and I think of 'divine law' is irrelevant to the words used to describe aspects of it.

      In other words, if someone commits a crime we call them a criminal. If that person rejects the law under which they've been prosecuted, or doesn't recognise it as valid, well we still call them a criminal. Because that term is meaningful to us. The meaningfulness we derive from the term is in no way related to what the recipient thinks of it. Likewise if there is a term related to the idea of divine law, then what we think of divine law is irrelevant to those form who it holds meaning. 

      However, as I said in the OP, if the goal is meaningful communication for both parties, then using terms which are not meaningful to the person we're talking to, or indeed possibly offensive, is not helpful in that regard. That can be alleviated somewhat by simply thinking about the way ideas relating to the concepts of sin and sinner are conveyed.

      1. Jerami profile image59
        Jeramiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        I didn't mean to derail your thread. 
        Was in the mood to get "snooty" back at cagsil.

            I understand sin as a word made up to include everything listed in the OT that we were told not to do, because they are harmful in some way. That is all that I was saying when I was corrected so graciously.

          Earnest...  If someone came up to me and told me that I shouldn't smoke a cigarette or drink a beer or bang my toe with a hammer, etc. etc  cause that is harmful to me ...  I'd tell them that isn't any of their business, or as you say  ...
        "shove it" -----  ---  --- ---- -----

           I never have or will call someone a sinner. That is between them and whoever.

        1. Don W profile image83
          Don Wposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          You didn't derail the thread at all, and although I opened it, it's not really my thread. It's here for anyone who has something to say on the subject including you and Cagsil.

          Your analogy of someone telling you to stop smoking is a good one.
          People are naturally defensive about being told what to do, even in the case of smoking where we know the potential harm is real. But that's aggravated further when the 'harm' used to justify telling someone what to do is based on a personal belief not shared by the recipient. So a natural defensive response becomes an downright hostile one.

          This is aggravated further by the fact that preaching the gospel is taken by many Christians to be part of their duty as a Christian. So end up with natural defensiveness about being told what to do on the one hand, and a duty to tell people what to do (stop sinning) on the other. Not a recipe for good communication.

          But the question is do we need to be defensive and hostile because someone tells us to do something based on something we don't believe in? And is telling people what to do really the only way to communicate concept of sin?

          1. Jerami profile image59
            Jeramiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

            Thanks or your comment..

               For your question.  I'd say that out in the real world ...
            It is not excusable to disregard others beliefs in telling them how they should be behaving differently. 

               Now, if that other person is your son or daughter we have a little more latitude in attempting to influence them.  That works itself out one way or another eventually.

              To walk up to a stranger on the street or ringing a door bell in order to insult that person is a different matter all together. That is wrong.  And can be dangerous.

               Scripture doesn't mention Jesus ever doing anything like that.  He went to a public forum type of situation and spoke to people that gathered around him to hear what he had to say.

               I don't recall him stalking or chasing anyone down to preach to.   
               It is my understanding that people are drawn to the truth even when they disagree with it.


               I gotta run out for a while.  Back in a couple.

  5. earnestshub profile image84
    earnestshubposted 13 years ago

    It is dead simple.
    You tell me I am a sinner in any form, whether in the usual  backhanded or snide way or directly and knowing that the word itself is a religious construct, I will tell you to shove it.

    Tell me I fit a category that "sins" or is going to be punished by your god, I will tell you to shove that too. (Not you personally) smile

    1. Don W profile image83
      Don Wposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Out of interest earnest is that because you reject the whole kit and caboodle of god-belief altogether, or do you have a dislike for being called a sinner in particular?

      1. earnestshub profile image84
        earnestshubposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        I reject the whole thing. smile

  6. earnestshub profile image84
    earnestshubposted 13 years ago

    lol lol lol

    Still abusive and angry without your own consent I see.

    Must be another "ism" attack. Stay out of the sun.

    1. profile image0
      Twenty One Daysposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      You are your worst liar, dear Earnest.
      Your G/god(s) are dead, even the ones you secretly worship...

      Might want to revisit your self-psycho-semantic analogy, before coming at me with twigs and berries. You had your cake and ate it too. Then spit it out because your own tongue couldn't stand the taste. Makes you a shoemaker in my book. The only thing worse than a tasteless chef is a tasteless shoemaker...

      1. Cagsil profile image73
        Cagsilposted 13 years agoin reply to this


        1. profile image0
          Twenty One Daysposted 13 years agoin reply to this


      2. earnestshub profile image84
        earnestshubposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Would that be "shoemakerism?"
        Your connect switch is always off and you believe it is on! lol lol lol

        1. profile image0
          Twenty One Daysposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          Whatever. You're already dead, mate. You're just breathing the same stale air you created a long time ago.

          I know shoes that smell prettier than your self-righteous grandpa socks (stuffed with ex-bible verses to keep your toes warm). You are ripe my friend --in more ways than one-- and that 'nothingness' -as you so cleverly put it once-- has your name written all over it.

          I guess the saying is right: in the end, it all tastes like chicken.
          You and them are in for a real surprise.

          Happy ever after in the Marketplace...
          Oladi, Olada, life goes on, la la lala life goes on...

    2. profile image0
      JacquiDposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I cannot believe that Ghandi went to hell for not believing in the Christian God.  And neither can my Born-Again boyfriend.   It takes a special kind of Christian to condemn people, when that's clearly their God's job.

      Just a thought there :-)

  7. profile image61
    logic,commonsenseposted 13 years ago

    Laugh with the sinners and cry with the saints, cause the sinners have much more fun, at least according to Billy Joel!

    1. Ipeoney profile image68
      Ipeoneyposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      even just thinking of something bad against another human being could be a sin, if we do that then we are a sinner. We don't necessarily do the bad things that we think to be called  sinner. I think my sentence is tangled up. sorry

  8. Diane Inside profile image74
    Diane Insideposted 13 years ago

    If a person is an atheist who doesn't believe in God or the concept of sin then why does it bother them, to be called a sinner.

    Especially in this type of setting.  If someone wants to call me a criminal I don't care, because I know I am not.

    So if you know you are not a sinner why would it bother you.

    we are not in grade school here.

    1. rb11 profile image66
      rb11posted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Atheist have the free will to change, especially when they come to face with their mortality.

      Recently, my car wouldn't start. We looked at all the complicated reasons for this problem. Hours upon hours tracing back fuses, wires, etc.. It turned out to be a simple problem, the positive battery connector was corroded. Brushing away the corrosion, we had a clean connection again, the car started right away.

      Sin is the corrosion that disrupts, perverts, confuses our connection to the source. Look at the car example, without a good connection, the car itself and all the other parts were rendered useless. So is it no surprise that as our connection to God gets corroded, we become the sort of society we see today? If any one of us can prove they created the earth and beyond, then lets listen to them too.

      1. Don W profile image83
        Don Wposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        rb11, that's much more 'user friendly' than the way I have heard some Christians talking about sin. I know being user friendly is not necessarily the aim for some Christians, but changing the way the message is conveyed can be really helpful in communicating with people. I really others would take that on board as you clearly have.

    2. profile image0
      JacquiDposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I try to be as open to each side as possible.  However, being an Agnostic, I've been called a sinner plenty of times.  It's not so much the "you are a sinner by my belief" part as it is the "you are going to be tortured for your entire after-life in hell" part.  You see, now i'm not calling you a criminal, I'm telling you that I'm going to set you on fire.  A bit more offensive, yes?

  9. heart4theword profile image60
    heart4thewordposted 13 years ago

    None of us are perfect, we all fall short of perfection.  Even when we are doing something right, we find out later we did it wrong.  The Bible talks about the heart, and who can know it?  There are Christians and Non-Christians who think they can earn their way to heaven based on works.  Preaching to others who have a closed ear, most likely will push them away further.  We are to speak the truth in love!  There is so much confusion in this world, in the minds and hearts of others...and this is the way the dark side would like things to remain.  I have to say, I am sorry for those who have pushed their beliefs onto you, and calling names, their heart was in the wrong place...and who knows if they truly are Christians?  Some can be so Heavenly minded they are no Earthly good!  I think we've all been there at one point or another, even thinking more highly of ourselves, than we should, can cause others grief.  As far as sin, we all sin and have sinned and continue to sin...personally I thank God, that He provided a way for forgiveness!  Some words, there is no way of getting around what it is, not referring to you or any-one person...but what else would a person call sin?  Dirt is dirt, Mud is Mud, Water is Water.  Words can hurt, and we need to be mindful of others when we speak period.  You picked a good topic of discussion!

    1. earnestshub profile image84
      earnestshubposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I don't sin. Sin is a religious concept. I don't do religion.


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