What is sin?

When I was a Christian, I was confused by the subject of sin. I couldn’t figure out what exactly constituted sin. I reasoned that if civil laws have themes running through them, then Biblical rules must have an even more profound common denominator than The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

So I took a year-long course on The Old Testament and read the Bible from cover to cover. To my astonishment, the only common denominator I found that tied all the commandments of the Bible together logically and coherently is this: Everything the Bible says is a sin was a cultural taboo in ancient Middle Eastern Jewish culture. You only have to scratch the surface of The Torah to find this, and the deeper you dig, the more you’ll find.

Consider some of the sins listed in the Old Testament and try to find the common denominator they all share:

  • You can’t cut your sideburns.
  • You have to be circumcised.
  • You can’t work on Sunday
  • You can’t eat animals with cloven hoofs.
  • You can beat your slaves, kill your children and sell your daughters.
  • If you have a wet dream you have to leave the camp for several days until you’re spiritually clean again.

"If two men are fighting, and the wife of one man tries to rescue her husband by grabbing the other man's private parts, you must cut off her hand. Don't have mercy." Deuteronomy 25: 11-12

"The children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall you buy. And they shall be your possession. And you shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession. they shall be your bondmen forever." Leviticus 25:45-46

Finding any other pattern between the sins listed in the Bible becomes harder when you include The New Testament. Try to find a common theme in these New Testament rules:

  • Homosexuality is still a sin.
  • Adultery is still a sin, but you should no longer stone adulterers as God commanded.
  • Slavery is still approved of, and slaves are told to obey they masters at least 4 times.
  • Working on Sunday is now okay.
  • Not believing the story of Jesus is a now a worse sin than murder.
  • Divorce isn’t a sin if the wife fornicates.
  • Stealing is still bad.
  • Women shouldn’t wear pearls or gold, and they should either cover their heads during prayer or shave their heads.
  • Jesus turns water into wine for people to drink, but Paul says drinking is a sin.

"Slave, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ." Ephesians 6:5

Put the rest of the Bible to the test if you don’t believe me. Read the whole thing, and every time there is a commandment stated or implied, write it down. Make a list, and then try to find some form of logical, purpose-driven standard that ties them altogether. I guarantee there is only one common denominator that elegantly and without exception ties all of the rules in the Bible together: Jewish values projected into their cultural manifesto.

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7 responses to “What is sin?

  • m_s_g

    Original sin = Maya (Illusion)
    All of these “sins” stem from the illusion of duality caused by being in the flesh and consequently having our consciousness limited by our tiny perspective in this infinitely large universe. What are your thoughts on this?


    • Anonymous

      I will say I believe in spirits and with due reason. I was a die hard atheist and had some things change my mind. If m-s-g are asking me personally,
      based on my experiences, Buddhism would be a great way to find that answer out on your own.
      I also personally believe God doesnt punish you. One punishes themself. One chooses to distance themselves from God. If there is any emotional problems within you or something that does not render you blameless, you could run afoul of problems.
      Just my opinion.


  • Donit

    Sin I believe is anything that you end up regretting. What do you think of this definition?


    • wise sloth

      That’s an interesting question. Certainly, doing something you regret breaks your own personal moral code, and that can be considered a sin. If there’s a God that will judge our sins, there’s no way to know whether that God will hold those sins against us. Another factor to consider is that many people do horrible things to other people and don’t feel any remorse. But surely harming others is bad regardless of whether or not you feel guilty about it.


      • Donit

        well I say this because I’ve seen “chronic sinners” if you will. There is a practical reason behind every consideration. Be dishonest and no one trusts you. One cannot profit if not trusted. Commit adultery and even the bible says the wrath of a husband cannot be bought off. Fornicate too much and your wily might catch a new tenant or two. The taboo against eating certain animals or dead carrion if transgressed would result in unsavory health conditions.

        Name a “sin” or taboo and I assure you one can find the practical reason behind it.
        The bible does say lead a blameless life. It not the only religion that advises to do so.

        The “hell” doesnt come in the after life but in this life time.

        When the hell does come, the words how I could been so stupid or how could I put my self in such a condition comes to me.


        • Donit

          I meant mind.

          Not “me”. Please correct

          “moral code”

          No, referring to actual consequences. I am sure you did something like get angry and ended up regretting doing so because the suffering of said action caused. Regardless if one has a moral code or not, I am sure we all done something stupid we ended up regretting and suffered for.


          • Donit

            If you want a summary of my view on morals, I looked into it and tried many things. You know how you said about having a morality that doesn’t align with reality?

            Well here what I found out….

            To me the most moral things to have in life is seek the end to suffering (both of self and others).

            That is what I found out.


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