General Question

Mariah's avatar

Why is it bad to sin?

Asked by Mariah (25858points) June 21st, 2011

No, I don’t need you to explain why murder is wrong.

It makes sense to me that, if there is a benevolent God, then His word is final and we have to follow His rules. But why did He make some of those rules? If the Bible truly is the word of God, why is it so important to Him that we, for instance, refrain from cutting our hair in particular ways? Many of these rules seem very arbitrary. What does He think will happen if we do round the edges of our hair?

I am not trying to put down anyone’s beliefs. I truly want to know.

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64 Answers

SABOTEUR's avatar

Seems to me like you’ve answered your own question.
A reasonable answer at that.

You really don’t need to have it validated.

Mariah's avatar

@SABOTEUR I want to be sure I’m not misunderstanding you. Are you saying that my second sentence is the answer to my question? What I’m having trouble understanding, though, is why God would forbid us from doing some things that seem completely harmless. Are they just bad because they are labelled sins? But then, if sins don’t always have negative consequences, why is it necessarily bad to sin?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Back when those rules were created, He wasn’t seen as a benevolent god. He was seen as a temperamental, jealous, unstable god. The deal was, you follow his rules and he’ll protect you (from war, famine, disease, other mean gods, warring tribes, etc). If you don’t, then he won’t.

SABOTEUR's avatar

This is just my opinion

I believe it’s quite possible God
(if you believe God exists)

has nothing to do with those rules.

blueberry_kid's avatar

Because a sin is bad and it is bad to sin. Bad things are a sin and sinning is a bad thing to do. The definition of sin is bad thing that a person can do or what has happend. If any of that help’s you, look it up in the bible.

Rarebear's avatar

Sin to me is a religious/theistic notion. Since I am atheistic, I do not believe in sin. I do believe in a humanistic morality, though.

Mariah's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Thanks for the info; my knowledge on this subject is embarrassingly sparse.

@SABOTEUR An interesting proposition. Thanks for giving your point of view.

@blueberry_kid Thanks, and that would make sense to me if all the things that are considered sins actually had bad retributions, but I’m questioning some of the rather meaningless things that the Bible says are abominations, such as rounding off the edges of your hair. I can’t remember the last time something bad happened because of round hair.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

All the Biblical sins are immoral, and immorality is destructive to the fabric of our society. For example, take the sin of adultery. Adultery threatens the institution of marriage, which in turn results in increased divorce rates, broken homes, and unhappiness to all parties involved. There is a causative factor in sinning, which is almost always destructive, never constructive.

bob_'s avatar

If you assume that the Bible is indeed the word of God, it is pointless to try to use logic.

Photosopher's avatar

I’m unfamiliar with hair fashion being relevant to sin. I cannot answer your question as to why it would be of concern. Surely the lost soul on the desert island is not doomed to hell because of a missing razor.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Some of the things you could graft into that was for the people of Israel to keep God’s people pure so the lineage for Jesus would not be polluted with Baal worshipers. Other things are as you see today, a mess because of the problems they cause.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
SABOTEUR's avatar

You might find this interesting:

As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

Mariah's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES Right, it makes sense to me why adultry is considered a sin: it has negative consequences. But do all sins have negative consequences? The example I keep using is a line I’ve just become acquainted with from Leviticus 19:27 which apparently says ”‘You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard.” I’m failing to see how this sin could possibly cause anyone harm.

Photosopher's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES “Adultery threatens the institution of marriage, which in turn results in increased divorce rates, broken homes, and unhappiness to all parties involved. There is a causative factor in sinning, which is almost always destructive, never constructive.”

What if I lie to hide my adultery in order to save the family? Assume I’ve stopped, and begged forgiveness from G, and know in my heart I’ve been forgiven… but… even after being forgiven, and changing my ways, the sin of lying would prevent my family from splitting. Telling the truth would be disruptive to society.

Nullo's avatar

Because God established a standard for morality. Things that He wants us to do are good, things that He doesn’t want us to do are bad. Often, disobedience itself is the sin.—This is Lewis’ take on the business with Eve and the forbidden fruit; the fruit had a time to be eaten in, which was not then, and it was the breaking of the rule – not the fruit – that caused all of the trouble.
Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18). Source. In brief, it is good to obey God, it is bad to disobey Him. Most sins work out to disobeying God.

Some of the rules are indeed arbitrary, the point of which is/was to set His people apart from the rest. Others are set in place to keep His followers from pagan practices – the moratorium on tattoos was one such rule – and may seem arbitrary until one considers the context. Others still had their place in the civil and ceremonial proceedings. All of them tie back to God’s morality one way or another.

@MyNewtBoobs God does indeed identify Himself as a jealous God, but is also very patient (I direct your attention to Exodus and Judges, and Jeremiah, and Lamentations, and Isaiah, and Daniel, and Nehemiah, and probably a couple others that I’m forgetting where we see Israel go through a cycle of sinning, being whapped on the head, repenting, and sinning again) and quite static. The score was known. But otherwise, yes. Good analysis. The benevolence is more evident if you look at the big picture, starting with the aftermath of the Fall.

@bob_ Apologetics is all about applying logic to faith. A fascinating field; you should check it out.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@Mariah Here’s a verse from the Lost Gospel of Ripiticus

Chap:1 Ver:1 “Thou cannot maketh sense out of nonsense.”

(It’s a short book)

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Mariah All sins have the “potential” to result in negative consequences, and more often than not, they do.

@Photosopher Once you’ve committed adultery, you’ve taken the first step in sinning already—- hiding the fact that you committed adultery doesn’t override your initial wrong. Sorry, but when you make a big mess in your life, and try to hide it so that you don’t stir more trouble, that just doesn’t cut it. It’s better to owe up to the fact that you sinned, and not get yourself in more potential hot water by lying. Sins sometimes lead to more sinning, getting yourself in a deeper mess. Be honest in the first place, don’t commit adultery, and you won’t HAVE to “tell the truth” to save your family from splitting. ;)

Mariah's avatar

Thanks @Nullo, I knew I could count on getting an answer from you. What you say makes sense. But it seems I was built to feel distrust towards a being that would expect me to obey rules that he knows are arbitrary.

I should have known better than to ask such a loaded question at this hour. I’ll get back to you tomorrow, folks.

zenvelo's avatar

The laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy came from a nomadic people who needed some guidance form the tribal elders on such things as food purity and caring for the widows of men who died. Certain things became tribal makers, like not mixing linen with other threads, or wearing your hair in certain manners.

It is not bad “to sin”; it is “a sin” to break certain moral laws.

leopardgecko123's avatar

Sinning is bad because it is going against God. Yes, every time you sin, you move one step farther from God. I’m pretty sure God made those rules because He wants to have a good relationship with us. I know, if God has a ton of power, why doesn’t He just make us have a good relationship with Him? It’s like a girl wanting a guy to truly truly love her, not be forced to love her, because that is not love. God gave us choices because he doesn’t want forced loved towards Him. He wants us to love Him for real, not fake love. That’s pretty much it, I guess.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Mariah The example I keep using is a line I’ve just become acquainted with from Leviticus 19:27 which apparently says” ‘You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard.” What many people seem to miss is that there is an Old Testament and a New Testament. The Old Testament was for the Jewish people basically, the rest of us would have been heathens like the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, etc. We would have all been Gentiles. Once Christ died, he died for all of us opening up the New Testament where any of us could go to the Father and not have to have a high priest give a blood sacrifice for us in the Holies of Holies. Sins like a woman on her period mingling with people or separation of new mothers from the rest for a time, I could be to keep germs away from the baby, as we know now but they had no technology to know. There is a reason for all sin, maybe latent or undetectable to most, but there just the same.

Judi's avatar

Warning: Christian answer Anyone who finds that offensive stop now. I have no desire to get into a religous debate.
I learned the answer to this question the hard way.
I had learned about Grace. How God loves and forgives us regardless of our sins. I learned how Jesus took on the punishment for our sins. Because of this, in my youth, I decided it was OK to do whatever I wanted since my sins were covered.
One day, all the things I had done came crashing down on me. I found myself alone, friendless, feeling like I was in a slimy stinky pit, from which I could never climb myself out of.
For the first time, I realized that God doesn’t set out guidelines and rules to control me, but to protect me. They help me live a fulfilled and happy life. When I sin, I find myself heading closer to that Lonely pit. I have learned over the last 50 years, that even when I don’t understand why, I am happier (and more free) when I live closer to obedience. It’s a oxymoron I know, but it works for me and makes me happy.
Everyone has their own journey. We live and we learn. This lesson, even the sorrow that brought me to it, has been the greatest gift of my life.

lillycoyote's avatar

I am not an atheist but my beliefs are rather idiosyncratic and almost entirely defined by what I don’t believe rather than what I do believe. That being said, there are three parts to my response to you.

1. I don’t believe that the bible is the word of god or that the rules in the bible are god’s rules.

2. If someone puts a book or a document in front of me and tells me it is a book of rules and moral guidelines and that book does not condemn rape and slavery, just two examples, as immoral and wrong then it is not a book of rules or moral guidelines that I choose to consult for how I ought to act; on what is right and what is wrong.

3. And while am not certainly theologian or biblical scholar, there are some issues of translation, in my opinion, regarding the word and notion of “sin” in the bible. While I don’t agree with this guy’s “exegesis” or interpretation, his essay does have some examples of translation issues in the bible that you might find enlightening. There are many words in the original Greek, at least, that have been translated as “sin” which are really words that only mean “missing the mark” or “making a mistake.” So, whether you believe that the “rules” outlined in the bible are god’s rules or not, failing to follow them isn’t necessarily a “sin.” Failing to follow them is merely “making a mistake” or “falling short”, something quite a bit different, in any reasonable person’s mind than “sinning” as the concept in generally understood by many people.

Photosopher's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES “Once you’ve committed adultery, you’ve taken the first step in sinning already—- ”

Are you telling me that adultery is not a sin, it’s just a step towards sin? I’m not sure we’re communicating here.

@MRSHINYSHOES ”...hiding the fact that you committed adultery doesn’t override your initial wrong.”

But I didn’t “hide the fact” from the G who I confessed to privately and who supposedly forgives the one who asks for it. Who’s doing the forgiving here, the G or the Wiffy? How can the Wiffy forgive me for something she doesn’t know I did? Why wouldn’t it be good enough to just get forgiven by G, and not let the Wiffy in on our little secret?

@MRSHINYSHOES “Sorry, but when you make a big mess in your life, and try to hide it so that you don’t stir more trouble, that just doesn’t cut it. It’s better to owe up to the fact that you sinned, and not get yourself in more potential hot water by lying.”

Like I said, I did “owe up to the fact” to the G that set the rules. What difference does it make that I confess to something that the Wiffy doesn’t know about? I distinctly remember a Dr. Laura show where she specifically told people to not feel like they had to spill the beans on adultery that the spouse didn’t know about. It only serves to clear the conscious of the adulterer, but in doing so, the unwarranted confession also initiates the very disruption to the family that the initial adultery would have done.

Why is it ok to disrupt the family by confessing to adultery that was never known about in the first place, but it’s not ok to disrupt the family by committing the actual adultery?

@MRSHINYSHOES “Sins sometimes lead to more sinning, getting yourself in a deeper mess.”

Then it’s safe to say that we’re all FUCKED!

@MRSHINYSHOES “Be honest in the first place, don’t commit adultery, and you won’t HAVE to “tell the truth” to save your family from splitting. ;)”

Erm… that’s not much help to someone who’s stuck in the midst of sinning. Good warning for those who haven’t yet sinned though. I’d like to know of anyone who hasn’t sinned that would benefit from your advice.
________

Hi Lilly!

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Photosopher 1) No, if you’ve taken the first step, that’s sinning already.
2) God knows everything. I’m referring to hiding your mess from those you love, your wife, your children.
3) It’s NOT okay to disrupt the family by confessing to adultery. Once again, it leads to more heartache and gets you into hotter water. See the bad effect?
4) All humans have sinned. Started with Adam and Eve.
5) Well, sorry, but those who are in the midst better atone themselves and strive to lead a better lifestyle, guided by moral values. Again, everyone has sinned. That’s my point. ;)

Photosopher's avatar

Atone to Whom? G or the Wiffy?

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

Atone to everyone you have hurt.

Photosopher's avatar

If I’ve been forgiven by G, then all sins are washed away. What am I confessing to Wiffy for if all sins have been washed away? At this point, I am a new creation, sinless before the spotless lamb of G. Roit?

Photosopher's avatar

Everyone I’ve hurt? How can Wiffy be hurt if she doesn’t know about it? It would hurt her to know of my past transgressions. So effectively, I’d be confessing to her for hurting her by telling her, not for the adultery, which she didn’t know about, and thus never hurt her.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

You disrespected your Wiffy by being unfaithful, you disrespected your children. The hurt you’ve caused them can never be forgotten, only forgiven. That’s why you have to make an effort to atone for your sin.

Btw, I’m not a religious person, more a moral person. ;)

Coloma's avatar

To ‘sin’ simply means to miss the mark.
If there is a God, well, he, she, it, the flying Spaghetti monster, Buddha, Allah, forgives all ‘sinners’. As long as you learn your lesson, make amends or restitution when possible and don’t repeat your mistakes, it’s all good. Besides, the law will get you way before God if you murder, steal or go Enron. Or, you’ll end up in divorce court.

All one can do is start over, and forgiving yourself is just as important as being forgiven.

Photosopher's avatar

How do they not forget something that they never knew about? If it can’t be forgotten, then why would I burden them with the memory of it?

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Photosopher Because if you tell them, then you will open a wound that will never heal. That’s why. Get it?

Photosopher's avatar

That’s why I wouldn’t tell them. But you’re saying that I should.

Photosopher's avatar

And wouldn’t they be guilty of sin by not forgiving me of the wound that never heals?

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augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Please remember: This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

lillycoyote's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES

You argued:

“All the Biblical sins are immoral, and immorality is destructive to the fabric of our society. For example, take the sin of adultery. Adultery threatens the institution of marriage, which in turn results in increased divorce rates, broken homes, and unhappiness to all parties involved. There is a causative factor in sinning, which is almost always destructive, never constructive.”

So what is your thinking on my two examples, rape and slavery, which are not condemned or considered sins in the bible? I happen to believe, very strongly, I can’t emphasize enough how strongly, that rape and slavery are both immoral. Two of the greatest evils humans can perpetrate agains one another yet neither is condemned nor considered a sin in the bible, Old Testament or New Testament, as far as I know. And if the fact that they are immoral, are crimes against liberty and personhood aren’t enough, they are destructive to the fabric of society. Slavery may be beneficial to the society of those who do the enslaving, not morally but economically, but it is pretty damn destructive to the society from which the slaves come.

Biblical god’s Rules Football: slavery and rape are not sins, not condemned. Does that mean that they are not immoral? Does that mean that they are o.k.? Are they not destructive to society? What is your take on this? I’m very curious to know and await your response.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Why is it bad to sin? Because we hurt ourselves by doing so.

This is difficult to discuss without an established definition of sin from the OP.

quarkquarkquark's avatar

@Mariah- It stops there. It’s not our job, as the narrative goes, to question why. It’s God’s will that we follow certain precepts, and it’s part of His “plan” that we adhere as closely as possible. The great fallacy of nonbelievers is to attempt to apply some modicum of rational thought to the commands of theistic systems; in fact, believers claim no privilege of logic and cite faith as their only justification for belief or adherence. Indeed, faith, by the lights of their cosmologies, is the only evidence needed.

meiosis's avatar

To my mind, there is difference between sin and crime. Murder, theft, violence etc. are crimes, whereas sin is a debatable label for matters of individual morality and conduct, the consequences of which can be good as well as bad.

I didn’t hurt anybody when I committed adultery. On the contrary, my paramour and I had a whale of a time. Those few months were amazing – they expanded my mind (and sexual technique), gave me back some sense of identity and attractiveness and provided a release from the ‘walking on eggshells’ marriage I was in at the time . If one is going to ‘sin’, one may as well make the most of it and suck every last ounce of enjoyment from it. My marriage was already dead at that point, and my ex-wife never found out about it (although I’m not sure she would have cared overly much, to be honest) as I had enough respect for her to ensure she wouldn’t. The adultery was a symptom of the disintegrating marriage, not a cause.

Now in another relationship, the idea of cheating on my current partner is abhorrent to me. It’s often said that we need heartbreak and despair in order to properly appreciate joy and delight, the same is true with our morals. We need to ‘sin’ in order to properly appreciate virtue. I pity those who strive to lead truly virtuous lives, as they’re missing out on so much of the rich tapestry that living a normal, lustful human life provides.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Sin does not exist. It may not be bad to sin (no one has ever done that to find out), but it is impossible to sin.

We are told that it is bad to sin because that is how religious groups maintain control – if you disagree with the prevailing opinion within the religion, then you are ‘sinning’, and you will be punished. It helps keep the wilful in line, and gives the pious a weapon to bludgeon the thinkers with.

choreplay's avatar

Rules and sin are part of a standard, the concept of God and the concept of perfection. From the believers perspective God is all knowing and sees difficulty sometimes where we don’t have the vision to. Therefore sometimes Gods direction for us doesn’t always make sense but there is a larger picture that we don’t see and an ultimate reason why.

I would counter myself, that the rule makers mixed their own opinions and demands with Gods, which is not right and because they are not perfect. So, for the Hebrews coming out of Egypt there were lots of rules and lots of rules that today seem very silly. Some of the Hebrews rules about mold, given the context of time and place, may have been practical while others like cutting your hair may have been superstitious.

But the bigger picture here is a standard of perfection or holiness, which I think is unattainable by the vast majority of humanity; perfection almost attained by, maybe a handful; and perfect by one. What does that inability say? Does it suggest a need or is this idea of perfection created by man?

I can suggest this concept of perfection easily apart from religious belief, such as acts of love and charity and acceptance. These are standards we all aspire to, why? Where did these come from a social contract?

The current church sees rules as a standard, which we are inevitably are going fail against but show that we need God.

It all boils down to whether there is a God and whether he loves us to give us direction and guidelines for ultimate good. So to save a lot of arguing over the details of my post, if there is not God than all I have said is meaningless. I not only believe in God but have experienced him and therefore know he is.

LostInParadise's avatar

The Bible has a large number of rules. The only ones these days who try to follow them all are orthodox Jews. For example, I am assuming you do not follow the rules for kosher food.

Jesus said that it is more important to follow the spirit of the law rather than the letter of it. It marked a major split in religious philosophy at the time. Most of those who now call themselves Jews follow Jesus’s interpretation, although they probably would not own up to it. This brings up the interesting question of what it means to be Jewish. If I were not an atheist, I might spend time trying to to find an answer.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Mariah, it is very confusing to anyone trying to understand the Bible when you take just one verse our of context. You have to study and understand the setting, context and origin of translations of words in the verses to fully understand the meanings of Biblical works.

For example, the verse you referenced is part of the God’s plans to set his people apart from others who worship different gods. Some sects, clans, or whatever you would call groups of people with certain beliefs and tradition; they would cut their hair and their flesh as a symbol of mourning their dead.

In this instance, God is telling His people to not follow that custom because, ultimately, His children will have victory over death. There is no reason to mourn because through His promises, death will lose her sting and not have victory.

Qingu's avatar

@Mariah, according to the Bible, you’re not even supposed to ask these questions, puny human!

Read the book of Job. The book starts off with God making a bet with Satan (who is more like Yahweh’s annoying sidekick at this point in Jewish theology) that his most prized follower (Job) couldn’t be tempted away from his Yahweh-worship. So Yahweh lets Satan loose. Satan inflicts Job with horrible diseases, tortures him, kills his family, destroys his livelihood.

After this, Job has the temerity to wonder why God would allow such horrible things to happen to him.

When Job wonders this loud enough, God appears in a whirlwind. Now, you might expect God to say, “well, I was just testing your faith.” But no. God is pissed. He asks Job questions like “Did you create the pillars of the earth? Could you beat a crocodile (Leviathan) in a fight? No? Well, who are you to ask questions of me, since I can beat up Leviathan?”

The interesting point here is that we, the readers, know perfectly well why bad things are happening to Job. It’s because God wants to win a bet with Satan. But the message of the story is you’re not even supposed to ask. Job is chastized for even wondering why he’s being tortured, instead of just accepting everything that happens to him on faith.

….........

All that said, sometimes Yahweh is nice enough to let us know why he gives us certain laws. For example, take the law in Deuteronomy 22, where if a newlywed bride cannot prove her virginity on her wedding night, you’re supposed to stone her to death on the doorstep of her father’s house.

Seems barbaric to us, maybe, but Yahweh tells us why (22:21): “because she committed a disgraceful act in Israel by prostituting herself in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” Yahweh has the old-fashioned idea that having sex before marriage—or, indeed, having a broken hymen—is a form of prostitution, since women are supposed to be the property of their fathers before they become the property of their future husbands.

Likewise, Yahweh explains why we should commit wholesale genocide against the people living in the promised land, which he commands in Deuteronomy 20:16:

“You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as the Lord your God has commanded, so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against the Lord your God.

Qingu's avatar

I also think it’s important to note that @Nullo is on record saying that he supports genocide in certain circumstances, namely as a means to wipe out “abhorrent” cultures. The reason he supports genocide is, of course, because God says to commit genocide in the Bible.

Nullo is a fine example of Christian apologetics in action.

Qingu's avatar

@LostInParadise, Jesus also said:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17)

It’s surprising how many Christians contradict this statement word-for-word by saying we shouldn’t follow the old laws anymore. It’s not that we shouldn’t follow them, it’s that we get a get-out-of-jail-free card just in case we aren’t able to follow them. Sort of like adults don’t have to look both ways when they cross the street, but it’s still a good idea to do so.

Not that I think owning slaves, stoning nonvirgins, or committing genocide against Palestinians are good ideas, but… that’s just like my opinion, man.

Rarebear's avatar

This is my favorite part of the Bible as it relates to sin
http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/lev/20.html

PhiNotPi's avatar

If it was good to sin, it wouldn’t be called sin. Sin, by definition, is something that is bad to do. It is bad to sin because sin is something that is bad. Your question reduces to an identity once we consider the fact that sin has to be defined as something.

To answer the question of why it is bad to do certian things (what are the boundaries of sin), it is needed that you have a definition of morality.

Take the fact that you are a person, along with all other people. If something bad can happen to a person, then it can happen to you, because you are a person, too. Then take the fact that people act similar. What is possible with one person is possible with other people. If you are a person and do something, then it is likely that many other people will do that thing too. If you decide to do something that negatively affects another person, then many other people will do the same thing. And to them, you are “another person.” If you do something bad to someone, it is likely that someone will do something bad to you. However, if you decide not to do bad things to other people, then it is likely that other people will do the same, and it is unlikely that a bad thing will happen to you. Applying game theory to this situation means that you should always decide not to do something that will harm anyone else.

We have just created the “Golden Rule,” the origin of morality.

With this rule, we can define immoral actions as those that harm other people, and moral actions as actions that are not immoral. Society tends to punish immoral actions, enforcing the existance of morality by adding negative consequences to immoral actions.

It is bad to sin because another person committing a sin negatively affects you.

Qingu's avatar

@PhiNotPi, so would you call God’s repeated commands to commit genocide “immoral” or “sinful”?

PhiNotPi's avatar

@Qingu Yes. That command is the way Christianity survives and spreads according to meme theory. Almost all major religions advocate its followers to spread the religion by the destruction of competitors (Christianity and Islam) or by absorption of competitors (Hinduism did this). If a religion said that it was in no way superior to competing religions and said it was okay not to spread the religion, then the religion is very easily destroyed or absorbed by competitors, and doesn’t last long.

Qingu's avatar

@PhiNotPi, so you are defining sin quite differently than the way the Bible understands it, which is basically disobeying God, who is perfectly good.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

If confining this discussion of sin to the bible, we should not confuse or conflate Mosaic Law with the Ten Commandments. One is wise to understand Mosaic Law as more akin to a set of societal Taboos, rather than actual Sin. And those are not the “Commandments” that Jesus referred to in the passage above.

And as much fun as it is to constantly pick on Christianity, we should not deny that the problem of sin goes far beyond that one religion and is addressed by all religions in some form or another.

Zoroastrian claim sin is a corruption of natural law.

African religions depict sin as wrongdoing that causes evil to come upon a community.

For Buddhists, and many eastern religions, sin is defined as the 108 Defilements.

For the Bahai, the only sin is pride, which manifests itself in countless ways.

Even Wiccans address sin as intentional harm of another.

The concepts of Karma and Taboo are similar to Sin and Moral Law. They may have different names, but when studied, one quickly understands these notions as global, rather than any specific fear tactic imposed upon humanity by any one specific religion.

If it’s such a concern, then the hiring of a Sin-Eater is always an option.

crisw's avatar

My husband and I went to a bar mitzvah for his nephew this weekend. The Torah portion was the Rebellion of Korah, which I had not heard of before.

So, as I understand it, 250 men burned to death and uncounted women and children were buried in a pit in the earth because three people sinned by offering incense to God and “no one other than Aaron’s offspring should presume to offer incense to God.” Then 14,700 people died of a plague because “the whole Israelite community railed against Moses and Aaron for bringing death upon God’s people.” and those people sinned by questioning Moses. It was very strange to hear a 13-year-old kid not only telling this tale, but telling us why it was such a great thing.

And it isn’t just a Torah tale- this bizarre Sunday school lesson has a nice coloring picture of the people being swallowed up by the earth. And it talks a lot about sin.

In any sane world, it’s killing people who disagree with you that should be a sin. Korah’s people apparently made the “mistake” of saying “all people are holy” and that was a sin to the Judeo-Christian God.

In reality, the only Bibical answer to “why is it bad to sin” is “Because God said so.” I don’t think it’s a very good answer.

mazingerz88's avatar

It’s bad to sin because it just is. Question that and you are not talking about sin anymore as defined in the Bible and those who believe in it.

I really think some people do follow their God’s arbitrary rules very much aware of it’s arbitrariness to show humility and utter submission. Humans are quite capable of that, especially in romantic relationships where one side is willing to be abused believing he or she is doing it out of true love. Go figure.

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