God: Shouting Violently to Get Your Attention

What then, should we go on sinning so that Grace may increase?

BY NO MEANS! This life is our only opportunity to learn how to be good. It was given to us as a gift. Yes, we will fail, we will be forgiven for that, but if we spend all of our time JUST indulging in selfish squalor, then we are learning precisely the wrong lesson and wasting the precious gift of Life that God gave us.

If we do that, we deserve to have to make our final judgment blind….

After all, “ALL THINGS are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. ALL THINGS are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”

God: The Tree of Knowledge and the Free Will Myth

The question of the day is this: Why would a loving God introduce Sin into our world?

Why would a loving God plant a Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden?

And, at its root, “Why would a loving God fashion Hell?”

Our mythology is full of the answer to that in kings putting down rebellion. Actually, our mythology is built entirely on the Earthly understanding of kings (and remember, when the people of Israel asked God for a king, he didn’t really want them to have one).

Okay, okay, I’m going to stop you all right now. This one’s labeled “God,” not “Government,” and I’m not going to get into that right now! Basically, though, Kings are a Constructed thing, and I argue that, within this world, they’re our most viable means of authority. But, no, they’re not God’s chosen path. THAT’s all I’m saying here.

Anyway! We read about Satan and his followers being cast into the Lake of Fire as their eternal punishment for rebelling against God. We read about eternal damnation, and wonder, Why is Mankind to be punished for having free will?

In fact, why would God give Man free will at all? After all, as a direct result of Free Will, billions of people are going to burn in Hell. The answer I’ve heard most often, is that God doesn’t want to be worshiped by an army of mindless drones, he wants people to choose to follow him. Trish said, “like the difference between Hitler and the Pope,” and that’s PRECISELY what I’ve heard every time I’ve brought up this question — it’s our accepted answer.

But…that’s more of that Earthly-kings thinking. Could God be so arrogant that he would create a structure for humanity that sends billions of Infinite souls to eternal damnation just so his chorus of cheerleaders might seem more fulfilling? That doesn’t sound like Love. That doesn’t sound anything like Love.

I don’t think Free Will was something God gave to Man. I don’t think the Tree of Knowledge is a Created thing. I think it’s one of those Rules. The same kind of Rules that said blood had to be paid to redeem the Infinite soul for its Temporal actions….

It’s like this: in order to BE Infinite, a Creature must have a Soul. A Soul is (or causes) self-awareness. Sentience. There’s none of one without the other.

A sentient being must be aware of its environment, and awareness of an environment (coupled with a basic sense of cause and effect) will lead any sentient Creature to experiment with his condition. There will be a desire to improve one’s environment, is what I’m saying.

ANY self-aware Creature will eventually feel compelled to improve its environment. It’s part of what self-awareness IS. ANY Infinite Soul will be self-aware. Therefore, in the process of God creating an Infinite being, it inherently gained the capacity for rebellion. Self-determinism, it’s been called. The desire to make one’s own world.

It’s part of our mythology that humans were given Free Will (we make it sound like a gift) by God, and the angels look down on us, confused by the notion. It’s part of our mythology that the angels don’t have Free Will. I don’t buy it. I don’t buy that Free Will is a Created thing — rather, it’s an aspect of Infinity.

After all, it’s also part of our mythology that Satan is a fallen angel, no? How can a will-less Creature Fall? No, I think the gift God gave to Man was recognizing the nature of Infinite beings to seek their own way, and creating for Man a safe playground where we can work these things out. And yes, I’m including the millions of babies who die of starvation in my definition of playground. I’m including the saintly Christians who have to live with the knowledge of the brutal rape and murder of a loved one. I’m including Holocaust and genocide and Big Business and American Idol. I’m including ALL of the mistakes we make, when I say that Life is a harmless playground.

The question is, How could a loving God condemn Created Man to Hell? But it raises a much more difficult question: How could a Creator God design an Infinite being with any chance at NOT seeking after its own destiny and abandoning Heaven in the process? God found a way — Life. The gift God gave us was not Free Will — it never was — the gift was Grace, and an existence in which Grace is possible. He made us Temporal beings precisely so that we could make all the stupid, terrible mistakes that humanity makes…in an environment where, no matter HOW horrible, they are only temporary. In an environment where we can learn from them, before becoming who we TRULY are, and who we will be forever.

God gave us the opportunity to learn from failure. That is something Infinite beings don’t have. By all accounts, God has a starry host. He has a multitude of angels that, living in his presence, never chose to seek after their own dominion. But he also saw Lucifer fall, saw a host of Created beings that turned away from him, once for all, and he wanted to create an opportunity for Man to avoid that. Life is not a chance to earn condemnation — that’s what we’re taught, that if you die as a baby you’ll go straight to Heaven, but the longer you live, the more opportunities you’ll get to Sin, and by sinning earn Hell — life is not just provided as a test, and if you mess up you fail.

Life is provided as an OPPORTUNITY to fail, over and over again, and to HURT in the process (I’m not saying sin should be painless, or that we should be without guilt). Failure is failure, it’s just not condemnation. Life is an opportunity for us to try out racism, try out bigotry, try out murder and selfishness and idle gossip and see how NONE of them is worth committing our souls to. Wealth isn’t as powerful as faith in God. Magic isn’t as powerful as faith in God. Technology and medicine cannot do what a simple prayer can. Life is our chance to learn these things, so when it comes time to make our big decision, we don’t have to make it blind.

God: A Metaphor

I’ll give you a simple metaphor, that may help convey what I’m trying to say about sin.

I’ve spoken several times about our Infinite Decision. When we die, we will become Infinite Beings (not the frail temporal things we are now). We’ll still be US, we’ll still have the same soul, the same memories, the same disposition that we had in life, but we’ll have perspective and power like we have never known.

And we’ll have to use that perspective and power to decide, based on what we know, whether or not we want to go to Heaven, and submit to God for all time.

That decision is like a Final Exam. Yeah, Comprehensive. Naturally. And it accounts for 100% of your grade for the semester.

Our lifetime is the time given us to study for the final. Our entire lifetime is provided for us to learn what we need to know to pass that ultimate test.

Committing temporal sins (and by this I mean breaking commandments, lying, stealing, even murder) are the metaphorical equivalent of goofing off during that study time. Got it? Committing temporal sins is not, in any way, failing the test. You’re not even TAKING the test. There was a time when the rules were different — when your performance throughout the semester was factored into your grade too. That was a LOT of Fs, though. (Thus Jesus’ sacrifice, which changed the grading so only the Final counted against you.)

Your lifetime is the only chance you’ve got to study for the test. Some people will spend that whole time studying — and still fail the test, because they’ve studied the wrong things, or studied in the wrong way, or just don’t understand the teacher well enough to answer what he wants. Some people will goof off all semester, then cram the night before, and pass with aces. Most people will spend their whole semester wavering back and forth — sometimes attending class, sometimes skipping, sometimes doing their homework, occasionally studying — and then it’ll just depend how well they’ve learned which topics.

Let’s say the commandments are a study guide. Or even a practice test. It doesn’t matter HOW WELL YOU DO on a practice test, that grade doesn’t go in the book. Got it? Temporal acts don’t count toward your final grade, good or bad. What matters is, in the time you were given, did you learn the material?

Do you know how to be Infinitely Perfect? It’s not out of our reach. In fact, we’re born with it, and every layer we add to the world around us hides our own perfection from us. We have all the materials we need to strip away the layers, and see the truth in ourselves. We can’t see it anywhere else (not in this form, not really — we see as through a shadowy mirror), but we can find it in ourselves. We can be confident in our place in Heaven, but we have to learn to look for it, to think the way the teacher thinks. We have to stop having panic attacks about what our grade is going to be, and start really, really, deep-down LEARNING what life is all about. What God is all about. What Man is meant to be.

It matters. It’s the only grade that ever really will.

God: Jesus’ 6 Commandments

Okay, I’ve talked about sin in an abstract way, and repeated myself four times and am still getting the same questions, which means I haven’t been clear.

Also, a lot of my answers were, “This will have to wait until later,” so I’m going ahead with the later, now. I’m going to post two separate posts today, both with pretty much the same theme, but divided based on their scriptural foundations (also because they’re long).

The first is a passage that I’ve been meaning to put here every day for the past week and a half, because of how it applies to things I’ve already said. And, I mean, at least once a day I’d think, “AAARGH! How could I NOT have done that yet?!” style of thing.

In Matthew 5 (yeah, Sermon on the Mount territory), Jesus starts talking about sin, and commandments, and the Law. Jesus starts addressing some of the issues I’ve been talking about — the Godaccountant myth, the role of sin in our lives. He says, right out, that sin is not sin because of a wicked action, but because of the effect it has on who you are as a person — because when you think like a sinful person, you are constructing for yourself a sinful world, rather than a righteous one.

Let’s get right to it:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear [that is, in my opinion, until the distinction between the two disappear when constructed reality comes to an end], not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.”

By “the Law” I don’t think he’s talking about the laws of the Pharisees, because he goes on to say:

“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

So he’s calling for a rightneousness above and beyond obedience. Toby and I were talking about this yesterday. Actually…Nicki and I were talking about it, too. By being obedient to a ruleset you can behave (like the Pharisees and teachers of the Law) without ever committing your heart to the underlying truths that MAKE those sins sinful, and those righteous acts righteous. This is what Jesus means when he says your righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law — you must be righteous because you’d LEARNED to be a good person, not just because you’ve avoided doing bad things. Need some examples? Jesus provides.

“You have heard that is was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”


“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Well what kind of a chance does THAT leave us?

None, under the Godaccountant myth. But it makes perfect sense when you consider it from the point of view I was describing yesterday (in my comments to Nicki on a days old post). Here you have, in two instances, ultimate temporal sinful acts (murder and adultery), and Jesus is saying that the ACTIONS of the sins don’t matter because, long before you’ve committed them, you’ve already committed the real sin in your heart.

What I claimed yesterday was that, by his death, Jesus cleansed us (all humanity, even) from all the eternal consequences of our temporal acts.

(Temporal means “something bounded by time.” It’s a counterpart to infinite. It’s NOT just a typo on temporary, and doesn’t exactly mean the same thing. A life is temporal. The Roman empire was temporal. These things are not necessarily short-lived, except against the backdrop of eternity. Just…to clarify.)

Back to my point. We are already FOGIVEN for murdering anyone we murder. We are already forgiven, by the blood of Christ, for committing adultery. Those actions cannot commit us to Hell — we’ve been redeemed for once and all.

BUT, when we die, we will have to be the kind of person who can say, “Yes, God, I believe in the sanctity of all souls enough to peacefully coexist with ALL of the Saints, for all eternity.” If we have lived our lives, if we have built for ourselves a world in which our own selfishness causes us to take another person’s life, we are not preparing ourselves to be able to make that decision.

We’ll have to say, “Yes, God, I understand the purity of perfect love and the devotion to one love for one person above all others, so I am ready to be submitted and faithful to you for all eternity.” Monogamy is Unnatural. Commitment to one love above all others, for all time, is not a thing of this world. It’s PRACTICE, and practice we desperately need, because when we leave this world with its laws, we enter a new world with Laws that we cannot break, and one of those is utter, self-sacrificing devotion to God’s love. If we have lived our life indulging in our own desires, chasing after every love that can satisfy us, we will NOT be ready to accept God’s one love when the time comes.

It’s not a matter of committing a sin — it’s a matter of BEING a sinful person. A man could lust after a woman once, and delight in it so much, learn so little from the consequences, that he condemned himself to Hell at that moment. A man could spend his whole life chasing every woman he can get his hands on, acting in lewd and terrible ways, and if he realizes in the end that it’s all for nothing, if he really LEARNS that this lifestyle has nothing to offer him, but that there’s another one available (and if he’s learned enough of God’s providence elsewhere in his life to be able to faithfully accept it), then he has lived a good life, in that he prepared himself to accept Heaven.

It’s about Learning, not about doing good. It’s about preparing ourselves to be the kind of people who live in Heaven. That requires trials. That requires suffering. That requires abject misery at times, to truly understand why I can’t GET what I want — I have to take what God gives me, and just trust that that will be good enough.

I promised 6, didn’t I? Okay, you are all familiar with the sins passage in the Sermon on the Mount, and I HIGHLY encourage you to read it through, twice, before you put this post away for the day. I’ll summarize and commentate, though.

Of divorce, Jesus says that there is virtually no condition under which it is acceptable, because the very act of divorce is denying the viability of an eternal, self-sacrificing, dependent love (which is the primary relationship we are supposed to have with God). If you choose to divorce, you are practicing making the wrong decision in Infinity. Got it?

I’ve known people who refused to associate with willingly divorced people because of this passage. How so? Yes, Jesus calls it a sin, but he does this a paragraph after saying the same of being ANGRY WITH YOUR BROTHER! Come on! Jesus’ point is that we are all sinful, every day, and if we can’t learn to get BETTER through the experience, yes, we’re barring ourselves from Heaven, but committing temporal sins is not a punishable offense. That price has been paid. EVERYBODY’s going to fail, again and again and again — the system was set up for that!

On oaths, he says don’t swear to this extent or that extent, but let yes be yes and no, no. Again, because if you have to swear to the truth of something, you’re implying (and believing, and constructing in your reality) that the standard is untruth. If you begin by assuming most things most people say are lies (yourself included), then you are crippling your ability to interact with others, and giving yourself license to lie to others, which cripples the potential of the relationship. By lying, you deliberately keep a relationship from achieving the potential it could — a sin. By swearing an oath, you convince yourself that most of the things said are lies, which has the same effect. In other words, Jesus is establishing clearly that the sin is NOT what you do within this imaginary world, it’s the impact that your thoughts and actions have on who you are as a person.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

This is a very important one, because it’s answering the complaints that are bubbling in all your minds. “But that’s not FAIR!” I know, evil should be punished, and good should be rewarded. The fact of the matter is, we do not want Justice, we could not SURVIVE Justice and, thank God, we don’t ever have to face Justice (at least, not for our temporal actions). All of you that are thinking there HAS to be some punishment for our earthly deeds, are thinking eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. That’s sinful. That’s constructing for yourself a world in which human failure (an in-built trait in our corporal forms) goes unforgiven. You’re constructing a world in which God can’t forgive you for YOUR striking him — for YOUR demanding he go with you where he doesn’t want to go, for YOU taking what is rightfully his out of base selfishness — you are constructing a world where God cannot forgive you for being human.

GOD didn’t make a world like that — he went out of his way to make a world where we CAN be forgiven. Where all of our rebellions against him and demands of him result in him giving us MORE, and acting with more love toward us. If we create a world WITHOUT that potential for ourselves (and legalists do it ALL THE TIME), we are deliberately stripping ourselves of our single greatest potential — Grace. And that is a sin. So we should live as though we BELIEVE in a generous and forgiving universe, in spite of the human failure we have to face every day.

And the last of Jesus’ commandments here, which ends with the most perfect summary.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. [Build for yourself a world in which Love always makes sense. If you hate where it makes sense to hate, you are constructing a world that includes hate. If you love even when it makes sense to hate, you’re constructing a world entirely full of love, which is a much better one to live in, Carebears aside. Continuing:]

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collector’s doing that? [In other words, loving those who love you is only constructing a Naturalistic world — that is a temporally logical thing to do, it’s not a Good act, even though it’s not a bad one.] And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

And how many Sunday School teachers stumble over that last line? It’s not a poser. It’s not an impossible command. Because Jesus is calling us to make an Infinite decision. Physical bodies can’t even make that choice, so Jesus isn’t saying, “While you’re alive, do what God does.” He’s telling us to BE like God — again, something we can’t even do while we’re temporal. So we have a lifetime to perpare ourselves for that. We have a lifetime to learn from our mistakes (failing and failing and failing in our quest to BECOME perfect). The perfection will never happen in this world — it’s not supposed to. It’s not natural. When perfection comes, all else will have faded away. All that will be left, are the things we have learned about Faith, Hope, and Love. If you’ve learned enough of these three, you get to go home. Simple as that.

God and Greatness: The Meaning of Life

I feel like I’ve lain enough of a foundation now that I can begin to draw some conclusions. If I’m wrong in this, let me know. I like a challenging comment as much as a supportive one (although I do like a little bit of cheer-leading from time to time, y’know, ‘cuz of the ego).

I’ve got some very contradictory ideas already stated, and Nicki’s called me on them (these particular ones I’m talking about, I mean), and I recognize the contradiction and that’s part of the reason I’m working on this blog. Getting everything spread out and written down makes it a lot easier for me to chase down those conflicting ideas.

Anyway, these particular ideas I’m talking about are the use of magic to construct worlds, the responsibility of Man to live up to his potential, and the inherent wickedness of trying to out-create God.

There’s another question which isn’t immediately related to those things, but which I’ll tie in. That’s this: why would a Christian, believing that Heaven is the ultimate goal of Man, believe that God would create earthly life? What’s the point of life, other than an opportunity for Man to fail, and get stuck in Hell?

It can’t be “to spread the word of God” because if God just skipped the Life phase, everyone would start out in his presence and not NEED to hear the word. It can’t be “to prove he’s worthy of living in Heaven” because we’re told from the start that we’re NOT.

I think it’s just this: Life is a chance for us to get it out of our system.

When transient beings make decisions, those decisions are transient. When infinite beings make decisions, those decisions are infinite. Not in duration, necessarily, but in significance.

We look at the fallen angels as our example. They lived in Paradise (real, whole, base Heaven), and decided that they wanted to rule over dominions of their own, and so they tore themselves away from True Reality to a place where they could make things of their own. And, to all appearances, they don’t get to go back. That’s the infinite decision there.

God created Man, then, with earthly bodies, so that we could test and retest and retest our ability to make a better world. You could even pretend he was being open-minded about it, figuring if we COULD make a better world than his, we deserved the right to it. There will be a lot of people who feel like they have, and they’ll commit their eternal selves to a temporally constructed world. Who knows — maybe they’ll get to have that world for their eternity. It’ll be Hell, in that it’ll be an eternity without God, but it might still be just what they built.

Life is an opportunity to discover, once and for all, that we can’t do it ourselves. To prepare us to accept God’s Heaven forever, once we actually see it. I think everyone is welcome in Heaven (I think the Bible says so clearly), but not everyone is prepared to accept it.

It is possible to live a life, from the beginning, entirely devoted to eternal Paradise. Jesus did. It is…extremely unlikely. It IS possible to learn your lesson early, and every time reality tempts you away from total dependence on God, to return there quickly, as you learn what’s going wrong. Look at Abraham and King David, and even King Solomon. Look what they were given, in this world, for their devotion to and dependence on God’s eternity. And look at Ecclesiastes for a very perfect description of what Life is all about. Life is about learning that everything outside of True Reality is meaningless. Sure it’s fun, sure it’s invigorating, but it’s flash and bang and gone — meaningless.

Most people, of course, don’t even manage the King David route. Some start out that way, but somehow end up tempted too much by their own pride (like Solomon). Some start out brash and bold and self-dependent, but find their way to Paradise-living late in life. Most of us, I think, come and go. Sometimes walking in the light, sometimes walking out of it, and always, always wishing we were walking in the light. Know what I mean?

I think at the end, we’ll all have access to Heaven. I don’t think, at the end, we’ll all have learned enough of our lesson to accept it, even then. Jesus will have redeemed many, many, by his example and his message and his death. People who wouldn’t have believed, or wouldn’t have believed strongly enough, without him, will be able to make the decision to be saved, because of him. Even so…when that time comes, there will be those who will have learned enough to contain their pride, and those who won’t.

Maybe we’ll all get accepted in at the moment of our death, and those who can’t take it will dwindle away over time. Maybe God, infinitely knowing, will cull out those failures before they come in (it matches more closely with the Bible telling, anyway). More likely, I think, we’ll make our own decision, as soon as we become infinite. As soon as we can see clearly, no longer limited by our temporal understanding, we will make an infinite decision. That’s not unfair — it’s the nature of the infinite. And in that moment we’ll decide whether we have learned to be dependent on God, living in Heaven for the rest of…ever, or if we’ve decided that it were better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.

So…live your life. That is God’s expectation of Man. Not to throw it away, constantly hoping for the next, but to spend our finite time learning all the lessons of trial and error necessary to prepare us to make good decisions, when the time comes. Or, rather, when time goes away.

What then? Shall we go on sinning that grace may increase? By no means. Living your life fully doesn’t mean crippling yourself by indulging in every vice. It DOES mean understanding vices, and what makes them vices. It DOES mean trying things on your own…and learning that it’s just not as good. Life is a playground with sand under the jungle gym. Yeah, we’ll fall from time to time. It’s expected. It’s also protected. It hurts…temporally. It hurts, and then the hurt goes away, and we get to try again.

You don’t really get that in infinity.

So…yes, you’ll fail. Your job, your responsibility, is to learn from that failure, not to surrender to it.

Go, learn, grow. Live and live and live. Death is part of it, too. If there were no death, Life would just be a prison of meaninglessness. As it is, Death is our opportunity to step into the real. Will you?

God: The Fall of Man

This is, in fact, one of my conclusions, several months from now, but I’ll post it now, so you can scoff and ridicule, and several months from now, you can feel sheepish. Because I’m that kind of tyrant.

It is my goal to establish that Social Constructionism (that very Human Greatness that I’m attempting to describe in other conversations) is the “Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

It is my goal to establish that Man, in his rebellion, learned the secrets of world-building.

It is my goal to establish that, upon these premises, we can understand a God who does not create pain or death or suffering in the world, but constantly strives to prevent it.

Also that God keeps no record of wrongs. God is Love, right, and Paul lists it right there with the rest, “Love keeps no record of wrongs,” and how — EXACTLY how — does that jive with the Book of Life, in which some are scheduled for destruction? Eh?

Yeah, I kinda left my pattern there.

That’s the point, though. Where does “Love keeps no record of wrongs” fit into it? What about Jesus, lecturing in the Sermon on the Mount about not worrying? Consider the lillies of the field, and how beautiful are they, and how much more valuable are you, and yet even Solomon in all his glory couldn’t match them.

That one strikes a discord for me. Are you saying (forgive me for getting into theoretical math here, but)

Solomon < lillies < me


I don’t think that’s the point. I think Jesus’ point is that Solomon got it wrong. In all his striving, he couldn’t achieve what the lillies do just by living, in complete submission to God. And, more importantly, any one of us CAN achieve far greater glory than that, by doing the same.

But very few of us could even get CLOSE to what Solomon did, no matter how hard we try.

So it’s all about submission. It’s about giving up. It’s not about works, it’s not about effort, it’s about living entirely in submission to God….

Yeah, nothing new there. And yet….

Go read the Fall of Man. It’s Genesis 3:16-19 (at least the bits I’m talking about here). Oh, fine, I don’t trust you at all, so here’s a pasting:

16 To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”

That’s NIV, and it’s not my preference necessarily, but it’s the first one I found. Read it in your own version, if you’ve got one handy.

Okay, this is where I’m heading with these articles:

God didn’t punish Man by cursing the ground (not even because it was God’s fault). God didn’t cast Man out of Eden. God didn’t hit woman with birth pangs. None of that happened in the passage you just read (although we’ve been taught that it did since we were two).

Here’s what did happen:
God created Man, and made Reality to contain him. He shaped Reality exactly like Heaven.

Man discovered within himself the ability to shape Reality, to make it what he wanted. Man had a perfect example available (Heaven, Eden, it’s where he’d been living for his whole life), but out of pride, chose to create his own, inferior reality, rather than living in perfect happiness in the one God had given him.

“Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven,” and all that.

And God looked down on Man, and saw what he had done, and in his wisdom recognized what Man would do with his power. Now listen closely: at this point, God did NOT punish Man in order to encourage him to grow up better. He didn’t expel him from Heaven to protect Heaven’s purity. He looked down on Man, and said to him, “Look, you have chosen to exercise the ability to shape worlds. You are not God, you are not good enough to make what I made for you. As long as you keep trying to build your own world, it’s going to look like this…” and then he described what life would be like in a Constructed world.

And THAT is what you read, above, in Genesis 3. Not his punishment, not his divinely-inspired, unknowably mysterious justice, but a simple prediction. He said, “This is the BEST you’ll be able to do,” and described what we know as Life. And in sharp contrast to that was the immediate memory of Heaven, in the form of Eden.

Which was still there. Which still is. It’s just submission. It’s just Constructing a world like the one God provided, not like the one we want for ourselves. It’s surrendering. It’s living like the lillies, not living like Solomon.

The angel with the flaming sword? That’s Man’s pride, it’s no agent of God’s. So say I. I’ll get to it, in time.

God, Government, Greatness: The Concept of Sin

Sin: the deliberate prevention of the realization of potential.

Just like that.

I don’t believe in Positive Divine Law (that is, something is Evil because God says it’s evil). I don’t think there are sins that are sins because they’re “against the rules.” It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t WORK (God MADE people in such a way that they constantly test the limits, they constantly tear at any boundaries around them). Establishing any Positive Divine Law is the same as forcing Man to sin, which is, I believe, antithetical to God.

No. I really don’t believe in “sins” as atomic units. Rather, I think of “sin” as a term meaning, “those actions which prevent us from attaining Paradise.”

Close enough — those people who want to look at it that way could still use that definition to incorporate those atomic sins which, by being committed, keep us from getting to Heaven. Telling a lie — bam! You’ve sinned, so you can’t get to Heaven so, in effect, you’ve committed an action which prevents you from attaining Paradise.

My point with that last sentence was to convince you to accept my definition of sin, so that we can have some mutually-agreed-upon term. From that point, I’m going to establish my position (which you’re most welcome to whole-heartedly reject).

I do feel that the ultimate goal of Man is to attain Paradise. Philosophically, that’s referred to as living the Good Life. Theologically, it’s getting to Heaven. I’m talking about both, but most concerned with the latter.

Okay. So…. There’s a very long argument here, which I should get into exclusively under the topic of God, but I think I can posit a little bit here. The ultimate goal of Man is to attain Paradise, and every Man has the potential to achieve that goal. I believe that utterly, and encourage you to believe the same. Sinning is acting in such a way as to lose your opportunity or, in other words, failing to meet your potential.

Honestly, I feel like the only Evil Thing is deliberately preventing the realization of potential. Whether it be Murder (in which you stop a life, thereby preventing the realization of the ultimate potential, in that every Man, in every moment of his life, has the full potential of the Creator within him), or good ol’ Catholic Sloth (in which a Man, with the full potential of the Creator within him, chooses not to act, not to create, but to waste his potential).

This is my beef with the Church, and with the U.S., and my answer to several of your comments. Yeah, it’s good in it’s current form. Yeah, it’s doing good things in the world, even. It’s successful. But it’s NOT living up to its potential. A church as a social club can be quite helpful to its members, but it’s squandering all the authority given it by its being the embodiment of Christ on earth. NOTHING ELSE GETS TO BE THAT. The church is the only entity with that potential, and it is using that potential in only the smallest of ways.

That I call Evil.

The U. S. as well. Most representative governments, I believe, cater to the lowest common denominator, and that inherently limits the realization of potential. That’s not just something to shake your head over. That’s SINFUL. Every bit as much as Murder.

That’s where I’m coming from. That’s my starting point. You might hear me talk of the “Godaccountant Myth” and think I’m claiming there is no evil, there is no sin, there is nothing barring Man’s entry into Heaven. By no means. I’m just saying: God doesn’t make sins — people do.

Now…I DO have answers to the theological and ethical questions that raises, and I’ll get to them in another article. For now, I’m just establishing my basic concept of sin, which goes a long way to explaining why I feel the way I do about several of the issues I’ve already brought up (spittle flying in my bewildering vehemence).

Hope that helps. More later.