When I was growing up, people told me that I was in danger of going to Hell because of my sin and that I was the “nastiest” child in the world because of a concept that they called “original sin”. God was so angry that the crappy humans that there was no hope (not even from God) of changing ourselves. We had to believe, otherwise, we would be toast (literally). I now know that some of these assessments are false. While we do inherit the consequences of our parents, we aren’t vile creatures because of it. Rather, we’re stained creatures. And we unfortunately are born into a state of privation of grace and if our parents do nothing, well, we have to find someone who will do something (I found Mother).
But how does one know that they’re a sinner? I was having a conversation with Mother recently and I had promised her that I wouldn’t cut myself…but I did. I was able to reflect that it is all the worse because of the love that she has given me. Only love can genuinely reveal to someone that they are a sinner. Only the kind of love that wants to shape you into a better person. Mother has practically bent over backwards for me and I repay her with cuts? How could I? We take this lesson to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, as soon as they ate the apple, knew they had sinned. It wasn’t because God threatened them with Hell like my church background growing up did to me. It was because God loved them.
Genesis 3:6-7 – So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. (RSV-CE)
Adam and Eve ate the fruit and all of a sudden, they feel a sense of shame. It was this sense of shame they feel after eating the fruit that reveals them their sin but this is not all there is to the story.
Genesis 3:8-11 – And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
They fear God because they are ashamed and they are ashamed because they used to walk with God…someone who loved them. But they drive themselves from the presence of God by their own sin. They create a chasm. One can only know they are a sinner where a chasm is created by themselves. One can only sin against a being that is love. Thus, when I cut myself, I knew it was all the worse because of the love that Mother has given me. I knew it was wrong because of the love Mother has given me. To reveal sin just simply as the fundamentalists do by saying how one is doomed to Hell if they continue in sin doesn’t actually reveal sin. It might reveal immorality but no one cares about that. Only the love of God who once walked with Adam and Eve revealed to them their sin by creating in them shame. And when our parents don’t share with us the love of God properly, we are forced to suffer the consequences and find someone who actually will share with us that love.