As an atheist, I’m sometimes confronted by believers who refuse to believe that my position is one of logic and reason. At the top of the list of their alternate theories is that I “just want to sin.” I admit I cannot deny this accusation, but not in the way they suspect.
First of all, we need to define sin. Most people define it as “going against the wishes of God(s).” This seems pretty straightforward, yet it can be an incredibly nebulous concept upon application. Not to mention unavoidable.
Every “Holy Book” in the Abrahamic Box Set can be broken down into two rules (not including those meant to strengthen communal bonds like rituals, genital mutilation, etc.): Be a decent person, and; keep society exactly the way it was at the time and place of the Holy Book’s writing. These are two concepts that are destined to conflict with each other. If you focus on the former, you’re a moderate. If you focus on the latter, you’re merely orthodox (aka extremist). A violation of either of these principles is considered a sin, yet the tension between the two becomes greater the further in time and space from the original writing you get.
To be sure, sin is not the same as as a crime. Sometimes it is, in the case of theft, but often it isn’t, such as homosexuality. Also, there are crimes which are not listed as sins, like slavery and genocide. So is a sin worse than a crime? I guess it depends on who is the victim and who is the transgressor.
Let’s take for example Evangelical Christianity’s favourite target: slutty girls. Young ladies are made to feel terrible for the “sin” of dressing immodestly, having sexual or romantic agency, or controlling their own womb. The level of vitriol and anger directed at these fellow citizens (who have committed no crime) is off the charts.
On the other hand, if you’re a priest or pastor who sexually violates a child or embezzles church money (which are crimes for you non-lawyers out there) and your organization does a terrible job of covering it up, then sin is a way to lessen your comeuppance. “I have sinned against God and I have received His forgiveness” is often employed as a way to explain why you didn’t deserve jail time, let alone unemployment. If you get on your knees and pray to your imaginary Skydaddy who totally sees things your way, then you’re OK to re-enter society. It’s not like you wore a halter top or anything.
As for the sin I personally partake in every day, it is the only unforgivable sin listed in the Bible. Murder, rape… these things the Great Alpha Male of the Universe can cut you some slack, but NOT opting out of the cult. Denying the divinity of Christ is the ONLY thing that is unforgivable. That is the sin I commit every day,and to be honest, it feels AWESOME!
“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” Matthew 12:31 KJV