Generally sin is viewed as the violation of God’s laws or rules. In many respects these so called laws are arbitrary and incomplete in the sense that they don’t address every possible behavioral situation. That is the reason, for instance, that the Jews felt it necessary to expand on the law with countless commentaries and additions, attempting to provide guidance in the many different circumstances encountered in real life. In other words, the original recipients of God’s law continuously struggled with how to comply and even with what constituted compliance. That has ever been the case with rules and laws, such systems necessitate lawyers, judges, and law enforcement.
As a Jewish teacher, Jesus came along and highlighted the principle which lay hidden behind the arbitrary rules given under the Old Covenant. That hidden principle was the commandment of love for God and one’s fellowmen. In relation to one’s fellowman, Jesus stated the principle in terms of the Golden Rule. In operating under this law of love, we are free to ask these questions in relation to our every action. Is it directed at the long term best interests of others? Does it reflect how I would like others to treat me? Specific laws, designed to address every possible situation, are no longer required when one understands and embraces these two questions.
Counter intuitively, under this paradigm, much of what we have been taught as the ways to oppose and eliminate sin became themselves sinful. For instance, would anyone of us welcome condemnation or ostracism or segregation or marginalization? Would we enjoy being marked as morally and religiously inferior?
Jesus proclaimed all equally sinful, regardless of perceived piety. Jesus called His followers to forsake judgment, indicating that their forgiveness would mirror the forgiveness they granted others. He demonstrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan that the call to love one another included all men, even those we perceive as inferior or dangerous. In the account of the woman taken in adultery, Jesus noted the inherent hypocrisy of those who seek to expose the faults of others. Clearly, none of these lessons support what is generally practiced in the name of Christianity.
How ironic would it be to discover that what we have been taught to do religiously in opposition to “sin”, turns out to be the very sin Jesus warned against? The continuing emphasis of Christianity on obedience to arbitrary rules, places their adherents right back where the Jews were, struggling to comply with rules that require a multitude of paid professionals to interpret.