Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sin - Synonymous with Selfishness?

As stated in an earlier post, going into depth on each of the seven deadly sins will have to wait, however, I am not yet prepared to completely leave the topic of sin behind. Therefore, tonight's lesson is on exactly that - Sin.

It was proposed earlier this week to me that sin and selfishness are basically synonymous with each other. I had never before considered this concept. But, if you think about it, it is somewhat similar. For example, take into consideration the seven deadly sins - these are all very obviously linked to selfishness. To conduct yourself in any way matching these sins would definitely be considered to be acting in your own self-interest. Lust? Envy? Greed? Gluttony? These are all wanting something for yourself, whether it be a person, money, food, and whether or not it already belongs to someone else. Sloth? Again, this is self-interest - this is a personal desire to do nothing - to not want to be active physically, mentally, or spiritually. Pride? Pride is egotistical which is in itself selfishness. And wrath? Wrath is generally an anger or hatred towards a person whom has done wrong to you. When this is the case, or perhaps no matter what the case would be to cause wrath, it is still selfishness.

But, what if you are stealing food to feed your children? Is this selfishness? Is this a sin?

What if you kill someone in an attempt to save someone else? Is this selfishness? Is this a sin?

How do you determine when something is a sin and when it isn't? I'm not sure it's always as clear cut as one would think. How many times have you heard or said the expressions "It's the thought that counts" or "you had good intention"? In regards to sin and selfishness being synonymous, I think this expression matters a great deal. If you are stealing food to help someone else survive, you are stealing with a good intention, therefore, it is not selfish and is not a sin. The law might disagree with this, however. And, I guess it could be argued that you were still acting in selfishness - you decided that your children (or whoever it is you're helping to survive) is more important than the person you are still from. Therefore, it is selfish in a sense.

But, moving along...

 The above image makes sense, and I don't think most of us would argue with any of these points here. But the one on this image that I think we often overlook is self-pity. This category points out one small contradiction. I grew up being taught that someone else always has it worse than I do, and therefore I should not feel pity for myself. Now just like the other categories, just because I was taught this doesn't mean I have always followed this. But, the teaching was still there. And so I learned not to discuss this depression, and not to seek help. Of course, there were other reasons behind my desire to not speak out, but one reason was that there are people out there who have it worse. 

But now, I have people telling me it is ok to feel depressed, and to have a bit of a pity party. It is acceptable to feel sorry for myself. But it is from these same people where I hear that selfishness is a sin. So which is it? 

Are sin and selfishness synonymous with each other - or only sometimes? It's an interesting question and concept. But then again, I find the whole concept of sin to be rather interesting... perhaps because I am a sinner.

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