Letter 7: Just a simple word: Sin

Dear Abdallah,


I value your appreciation for the central themes of our faith. After having spent some time on our investigation into the very central theme of who God is, I suggest we tackle a topic which contains a problem that affects us day by day, and which is, consequently, most relevant. It is the concept of sin.


Some time ago a Muslim acquaintance of mine asked me why Christians are so ‘obsessed with sin’, as he put it. “Because it is the contrast between us and God that affects us every day of our lives”, was my reply. Naturally, we all want to stay clear of sin, yet yield to it all the time. If we want to live with God this is a relative theme. It addresses probably one of the most crucial issues of life. Any honest person with a functioning conscience and some basic awareness of ethics, will be alarmed at our ever present readiness, not to say urge, to think or do what we know to be wrong. Even the patriarchs in the Bible succumbed under this pressure.


Adam disobeyed God. Abel killed his brother. Noah got deliriously drunk, Lot’s daughters slept with their father, Abraham blatantly lied by declaring his wife to be his sister, Jacob was a deceiver, Moses was a murderer and acted against God’s orders, David committed adultery and planned a murder, and so it goes on.


Why do we all have this tendency to sin, even against our will? It is apparently the heritage of our nature from our parents and forefathers. Already at the time of Noah:


“The Lord was grieved . . . and His heart was filled with pain”, (Genesis 6:6), “the Lord saw how great man’s wickedness had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).