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Old 06-18-2012, 11:01 PM   #1
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Sin - Crime - Immorality > same? similar? different??

Are these terms related?

To murder (unlawfully take a life), falls under what label?

Are all crimes immoral, are all crimes sins?

What is a sin? What is morality?

My hope is that discussion can be about the above and related issues.
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:17 PM   #2
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Sin is the superstitious assimilation of morality. It doesn't exist

Morals are a system of intraspecies conduct that benefits the population as a whole.

Crime is the systemic application of what society deems to be unacceptable misconduct in regard to that system.
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:25 PM   #3
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Taking off from my comment on the topic in the same sex thread:

For me I always associate the word "sin" with religion, and since I'm not all that religious, that word doesn't stick with me the way it does others. I don't use it to describe things I consider bad.

That said, if we're going to bring the idea of sin into the conversation, I think when it comes to serious crimes, a sin may be what led someone to commit the crimes (an adulterous affair leads someone to kill the spouse so they can be together, somebody robs and kills someone for their money, that sort of thing), but to call the serious crimes themselves sinful seems too simplistic, too easily explained away or something, if that makes sense. Things like murder, rape, abuse, those are significantly harder to redeem in any way, if they can be redeemable at all, and I always associate sin with something that you can stop, that you can change, and that you should change because it's harmful to you or other people.

People talk about the seven deadly sins, and I don't think some (or one could argue even all, maybe) of those are bad in and of themselves, it's how people deal with them that matters. Lust in and of itself is not a bad thing, I don't think. We're humans, we have hormones and we're going to find people attractive. It's how we act on the attraction that matters. Pride isn't bad in and of itself, either, again, how we show that pride matters.

Life is just too complicated to say this is always right and this is always wrong and label anything that doesn't fit with your worldview a sin.
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Old 06-19-2012, 09:59 PM   #4
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You are correct that sin really is essentially a religious term and I think it's important for religious people to remember that. Throwing around the word sin and even trying to explain it may not carry much weight to someone who doesn't have a religious worldview.

Certainly there are gross misunderstandings among those who are not religious about what sin is supposed to mean. Heck, even among believers there's a fair amount of disagreement about the nature of sin. But at least for Christians, recognition of sin is crucial to understanding our relationship to God. Christianity is rooted in the idea that people are inherently in trouble that they can't get out of on their own. That trouble is sin.
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:36 AM   #5
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Fully agreed with your post, Sean. I'm actually rather curious, what is your particular viewpoint on what constitutes sin and what Christianity's role is in trying to deal with such issues? How do you think you use sin to understand your relationship with God?

(Feel free, other religious folks here, to put in your own two cents on that question. I'd really be interested to know how each person of faith deals with that situation.)
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Old 06-20-2012, 06:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Are these terms related?
Sometimes.

Quote:
To murder (unlawfully take a life), falls under what label?
This is one that would fall under both.

Quote:
Are all crimes immoral, are all crimes sins?
No.

But I do know some that believe they are. There are some more fundamentalist that believe that you must adhere to the law of the land and to break that is a sin. I never understood this, but I've actually sat in churches that preached this, I mean jaywalking a sin? I wonder how these folks feel about the affordable care act?

Quote:
What is a sin?
The most simplistic definition I've ever heard is "anything that separates you from God".

Quote:
What is morality?
Morality is not exclusive to religion no matter what some may think. But I would say that morality is elastic. It's definition will differ from individual to individual, individual to society, and society to society. There are commonalities that flow throughout most and that's probably where one should start when looking at morality vs law.
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Old 06-20-2012, 11:04 AM   #7
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Laws can be moral and immoral and are very rarely decided by society at large other than by cultural influence, so what may be considered a 'crime' can vary over time as can be seen in regards to homosexuality. Not sure whether inheritance tax exists in the states but I consider it immoral, you have paid tax all your life and then the state comes in and swoops a whack off all you have earned when your dead. Not that I disagree with tax in general as some people surely do. But not paying it, is a crime, but I'm sure some people don't see it that way.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:19 PM   #8
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It seems like people have a natural aversion to the word "sin" (perhaps because of its use primarily in religious contexts, perhaps because it's an outdated word), as well as the concept of "original sin" (the notion that we are born sinners, a byproduct of the fallen world in which Christians believe we live). I've found myself -- even in church -- using the word "sin" less, and "broken/dysfunctional behavior" more. Maybe that phrase feels more empathetic and less judgmental. In the highly therapized world in which we live, while people might object to the notion of being "sinful", I think a lot of people realize that they're broken at some core level. That who they are is not who they want to be. Some people aren't, and that's fine -- Jesus Himself said that He came not to help the healthy, but the sick. But an awful lot of people come to religion/faith, and ultimately a relationship with God, not because they've fixed themselves, but precisely because they know that they can't.

One of the most beautiful ways I've heard church described is that it's not supposed to be a mansion for the well-off, but a hospital for the broken.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:46 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by deep View Post
To murder (unlawfully take a life), falls under what label?
All three.

But there are a multitude of examples that may fall under one or two of the labels and not another, purely because they are all mutually exclusive concepts. There may perhaps be some overlap, but the motivations for their existence differ.

Sin - exists in a religious context only; it involves individual behavior that contrasts to the will of God
Immorality - exists in a sociological context; those who are moral follow the suggested norms of their culture
Crime - breaking of an established law of a country or state; may or may not be immoral, depending on the morality of the government that founded the law
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:20 PM   #10
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All three.

But there are a multitude of examples that may fall under one or two of the labels and not another, purely because they are all mutually exclusive concepts. There may perhaps be some overlap, but the motivations for their existence differ.

Sin - exists in a religious context only; it involves individual behavior that contrasts to the will of God
Immorality - exists in a sociological context; those who are moral follow the suggested norms of their culture
Crime - breaking of an established law of a country or state; may or may not be immoral, depending on the morality of the government that founded the law
Interesting summation. I like it, it's very elegant. But do you think it's possible for there to be something that is a sin but is not immoral?

I don't.
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:30 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Moonlit_Angel View Post
Fully agreed with your post, Sean. I'm actually rather curious, what is your particular viewpoint on what constitutes sin and what Christianity's role is in trying to deal with such issues? How do you think you use sin to understand your relationship with God?

(Feel free, other religious folks here, to put in your own two cents on that question. I'd really be interested to know how each person of faith deals with that situation.)
I like BVS simplified definition "anything that seperates you from God" but I agree with him that it is such a simplification of the term that may have little practical meaning for most people.

I do believe that sin is less about outward behavior (though that's a big part of it, of course) and more about the state one's "heart." A person's motives and "true self"--the person you are when no one is watching.

A more practical definition would be "What ever hurts someone else, hurts me, or damages my connection to God" constitutes sin. But again this still has more to do with my intentions and motives than it does to specific "sinful behaviors" at least in my opinion.

At any rate, the Christian view is that sin (and its ultimate consequence, death) is the natural state of human beings. We believe that we are incapable of extricating ourselves from a sinful state of being, and are in need of someone to get us out. That's where Jesus comes in. As you can see, without the idea of sin, Christianity doesn't really amount to much as a theology. What Jesus provides is freedom from sin and its ultimate consequence, death.

At the end of the day nobody (while they are happy and healthy anyway) wants to die, and Christianity like most all religions addresses the why of death (sin) and provides the get out death free card (Jesus).
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:48 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by maycocksean

Interesting summation. I like it, it's very elegant. But do you think it's possible for there to be something that is a sin but is not immoral?

I don't.
Is homosexuality not considered a sin by many of the religious persuasion?
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Old 06-20-2012, 03:01 PM   #13
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Interesting summation. I like it, it's very elegant. But do you think it's possible for there to be something that is a sin but is not immoral?

I don't.
Well, that's an interesting question. Going by the definition I laid out, does western culture hold certain things to be moral that Christianity deems immoral? I would say yes.

But here's another question: is immorality more subjective than crime and sin? Does the former have a personal aspect to it that sin (defined by Biblical definitions) and crime (federal law) do not? I think the very nature of compiling a set of mores is extremely complicated, so I have a difficult time nailing down precisely what immorality is. There are some fundamental things one should not do (murder, rape, steal, etc.) but you can add so much to that, and you can draw from your upbringing, a religious text, etc. in order to do so.
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Old 06-20-2012, 04:45 PM   #14
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Interesting summation. I like it, it's very elegant. But do you think it's possible for there to be something that is a sin but is not immoral?

I don't.
How many of the 7 deadly sins would you consider immoral? maybe wrath in certain contexts, but probably none of the others. They're population pacifiers.

And thought crimes like 'thou shall not covet' are certainly not immoral
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Old 06-20-2012, 05:36 PM   #15
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How many of the 7 deadly sins would you consider immoral? maybe wrath in certain contexts, but probably none of the others. They're population pacifiers.

And thought crimes like 'thou shall not covet' are certainly not immoral
No, but if you act on them many would be immoral.

The seven deadly sins as we know them today, aren't even listed in the Bible, they don't come from any one source in the Bible they came from a Pope. And actually they aren't really defined as Sin unless acted upon rather negative values that man can succumb to.

In fact I've never heard of any Protestant denominations that focus on them as Sins.
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