Why does authoritarian religion thunder on so much about "sin" when "sin" doesn't count for the people at the top?
Why doesn't "sin" count if you're a priest molesting children?
Why doesn't "sin" count if you're the pastor of an evangelical mega-brand?
Why doesn't "sin" count if you're the President everyone was required to vote for if you were a true Christian?
Why does "sin" only count if it's women, and you want to block them from standing with authority in a pulpit?
Why does "sin" only count if it's the LGBTQ community, and you don't want to bake them a cake?
Why does "sin" only count when it's children, and you're wanting to control and manipulate their religious outcomes?
I have been puzzling over these questions for the past couple of years.
If sin counted the same for everybody, then:
- a priest molesting children would be defrocked immediately
- a pastor sexually abusing women would be fired immediately
- a president committing crimes would not be supported by Christians
And yet, here we are.
And here is the inescapable conclusion: sin doesn't count the same for everybody in an authoritarian system.
If you're at the top, sin doesn't count for you at all.
IN AN AUTHORITARIAN SYSTEM, SIN ONLY COUNTS AS A TOOL TO OPPRESS OTHER PEOPLE.
When you want to oppress women and make them feel like they're too unworthy to speak with authority, then "sin" is your best tool.
When you want to create a scapegoat of the LGBTQ community and make them feel too ashamed to participate in life, then "sin" is your best tool.
When you want to control children into remaining in your religious system and make them so terrified of hell that they'll never ask the obvious questions, then "sin" is your best tool.
And when you yourself are caught in "sin," well, just hold a forgiveness mass, tell people that they need to be gracious to sinners (which magically applies only to straight white male leaders, never to women, children, or the LGBTQ community), say that we're all sinners, it's all fake news and a witch hunt, and voila, you're still in charge and everybody else still feels so ashamed of their "sin" that they'll still let you be in charge, you naked emperor striding along in the sunshine.
Here's the thing we need to realize, friends.
Jesus came speaking BLESSING.
The first big chunk of red words, known as the Sermon on the Mount, is about BLESSING.
Go read it if you don't believe me: Matthew chapter 5 and following.
If "sin" were the thing God really wanted to talk to us about, why did Jesus come saying "blessed" instead of "damned to hell?"
I think Jesus spoke blessing because blessing is the language of Love rather than condemnation, and Love is the path to healing and wholeness.
When we stop believing that we are cursed by original sin and instead listen to what Jesus said about original blessing, that lights a powerful engine within us.
We don't need sin and shame to drive us to God, as I was taught in that fear-based system.
We simply open ourselves to the reality of our Belovedness, the image-bearing Light and Love, the Blessedness that is already our deepest and whole-est Truth.
And then we're free to live as we really are, not as some "authority" tells us we are.
Why does authoritarian religion react with such fear and hatred to Belovedness and Blessing and Light and Love?
Well, I think it's because authoritarianism does not want our freedom.
Authoritarianism wants our oppression, our enslavement, to its power.
We have been set free for this kind of freedom: to live and move and have our being in this kind of Love, and authoritarianism just can't stand the thought of us living in that kind of peace, where we don't need to bow to the emperor, to the Pharisee, to the law-giver in order to have our fullest Life.
When we no longer live in fear of sin and shame, the powers of hell (so cleverly disguised as angels of light) lose their power.
And we walk free.
Free of sin.
Free of shame.
Free to live in Love.
And authoritarian religion despises that completely.