Voices of Faith offers perspectives from religion columnists. This week’s question: What should we think of original sin?
A fallen world
The Rev. Joe Nassal, Precious Blood Center, Liberty, Mo.: Watching the evening news recently, there was one disaster story after another, from the Malaysian airline that disappeared to the mudslide where one minute people are going about their daily grind and the next minute they are buried.
Such bad news screams that we live in a fallen world, or at least a world far from whole. With wars and rumors of war, with victims of violence and purveyors of greed, with disgraced heroes and public sinners, many grasp for answers, for meaning in the mayhem.
It all suggests that while many of us are unoriginal sinners, the concept of original sin is still around.
Like Adam and Eve, temptations of power, fame and fortune can get the best of us.
The serpent’s reasoning is slick and seductive: “God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil (Genesis 3:5).” Their eyes were opened, all right.
We are still tempted to “play god” or pretend that God doesn’t exist – we can do it on our own, we don’t need God. We still play the blame game and know shame.
But the first part of the story, before the fall, must be remembered, that we carry within us the very breath of God (Genesis 2:7).
Like the first couple, we forget who we are: made in God’s image and likeness. Our daily challenge is to retrieve the memory of our true self as God’s beloved and to live this memory of our holiness, not our hate, our original goodness rather than our original sin.
The Rev. Duke Tufty, Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.: I have never been able to understand the concept of original sin. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Supposedly some 6,000 years ago Adam and Eve were living a paradisiacal life in the Garden of Eden. Every need was filled and every desire was granted. Then one day the two eat from the tree of forbidden fruit and all hell breaks loose.
A dark and murky shadow of guilt, shame and fear was cast over Adam and Eve like a wet blanket on a cold winter day, and they were condemned to suffer.
Adam has to do hard labor, and in a different sense, Eve has to do so as well. Their misstep was labeled “original sin,” and like some kind of an all-encompassing genetic disposition, every single person born after them was deemed sinful by nature and unworthy in the eyes of God. All because they took a bite out of a piece of fruit.
No human being should have his or herself, soul or personhood inflicted with such a sick, insidious notion, and the pompous preachers who proliferate such propaganda should be ashamed for defaming God’s great work.
The next time you have a chance take a small baby in your arms, hold it close and look into his or her eyes.
You will see an original blessing very much the same as yourself.
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