Voices of Faith offers perspectives from religion columnists. This week’s question: Are we born sinners and unworthy of God’s love?
The Rev. Justin Hoye, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church: Yes, we are born into this world oriented away from God, a state traditionally referred to as original sin. This state is not a consequence of my personal sin, but a condition contracted from the very beginning of mankind, when humanity rejected the life God prepared.
A good analogy might be that of a child who is born with an addiction because the mother used drugs during pregnancy. The child did not do anything to acquire this state, but it is a reality conveyed through another’s free act. Humanity was – and continues to be – deceived into sin, a perpetual belief that our way is better than God’s way.
Even in this state, God does not forsake us. God cares for humanity even in our stubbornness to pursue a way of living that leads to self-destruction. On our own, mankind has been incapable of fixing this ongoing departure from God. In time, God restored us to life in the divine person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ life, passion and death were completely oriented toward God’s will, and by our immersion into this life – celebrated in the waters of Baptism – we, too, are saved, reoriented into a right relationship with God. This drama, while showing our ongoing tendency to choose self-destructive patterns of living, also shows most beautifully God’s persistent and saving love for us.
Every baby is pure
Duke Tufty, pastor, Unity Temple on the Plaza: Holy smokes, where on earth did you ever get such a notion? I say “where on earth” because that notion certainly didn’t come from heaven.
Go to the maternity ward at the closest hospital, look through the window where they keep the newborn babies and point to a sinner that could be deemed unworthy in anybody’s eyes. I cannot imagine what kind of a mind made up this original sin malarkey; it doesn’t make a bit of sense.
Every baby is pure, wholesome and precious. We are not born into original sin, but each of us is born an original blessing. Jesus said we are the light of the world, and we should let our light shine.
He also warned about allowing that light to be covered up by judgments that diminish one’s self worth and demonize the fine work of the divine creator.
If you believe you are a born sinner and unworthy in the eyes of God, that’s the way you will live your life. If you believe you are a good person and a beneficial presence to this earth, that’s the way you will live your life.
So let me ask you, are you a born sinner and unworthy in the eyes of God?
The answer to that question is: whatever you think.