The notion of sin is psychologically naïve. It is a complete failure to understand human behavior. Christianity teaches that you have a “sinful nature;” meaning you do bad things because part of you is sinful–you’re bad. Not a single school of psychology accepts this framework. In fact, the way we help people heal is by showing them there is no such thing as sin. There are no good or bad parts of you–all of you is fundamentally good! All your good and bad parts must be seen with love and compassionate attention. That’s what forgiveness really means. It’s only by rejecting, shaming, and hiding away the parts of ourselves we deem unlovable and unforgivable and calling them bad names like “sin” and “wretched” that we separate and divide ourselves against ourselves and get caught up in this needless game of internal warfare. It feels good to confess my sins to a god because my shame is so big I feel I need a being with infinite patience who can tolerate fully seeing me and still love me. When you confess and feel divine forgiveness, it’s really you hiding behind the idea of god that’s doing the forgiving–your own loving attention is all the power you need to heal yourself. We all want to be seen and loved, and the test of really seeing someone with love is to see them in their most shameful, hurtful, and embarrassing moments and still passionately embrace them. We get carried away with ideas like sin, forgiveness, and god in search of healing because we do not believe in the power of our own love.
It’s far easier to be moral if you banish notions of “good and “bad” and start thinking in categories like health and unhealth, whole and divided. We know why people behave in desirable and undesirable ways: we have learned behaviors to meet our needs and relate to our environments, starting in early childhood. We carry these patterns into our adulthood. Traumas and passions motivate our actions… and so much more–this is fascinating, a wealth of psychological study! But sin makes sense of absolutely none of it! Sin is an anti-healing, anti-health view of human nature. It is by shining the light of love into the darkest parts of us–the parts that feel sinful–that we learn to be united, undivided, and free.