Original sin and the identity of the other (questioning an apparent collision of values)

Original sin and the identity of the other (questioning an apparent collision of values) December 18, 2014

At a campus ministry conference I’ve been attending, a conservative evangelical speaker talked about the critical importance of the doctrine of original sin, basically saying that we cannot love God in the right way if we don’t know that we are hopelessly broken and lost without him. He contrasted this doctrine with the “new-agey view” that we’re supposed to “trust our feelings” because people are “basically good.” As I was listening to this speaker, it made me wonder how many conservative evangelicals like him see the movement for LGBT acceptance as a direct assault on the Christian doctrine of original sin and thus the whole of the gospel, because the basic struggle of LGBT people is to convince other people that the identities they experience are real, legitimate, and not inherently broken, while what original sin seems to teach is that every human identity is inherently unreal, illegitimate, and in need of Christ’s redemption and radical transformation.

Though I need to walk delicately here speaking as a straight ally, I think it’s important to acknowledge that there does seem to be a very real collision of values. It’s not just a question of how to interpret four controversial anti-gay clobber text Bible verses, but a clash between two seemingly irreconcilable accounts of human nature. Can we trust our intuitions about ourselves or not? Is our spiritual journey supposed to instill self-acceptance or self-rejection (or perhaps both in different senses)? As queer Catholic theologian James Alison writes in an essay for Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body, there are two very different ways to understand being obedient to the truth. Is truth a decree from an authoritative institution to which we must conform no matter how loudly reality contradicts it or is truth the reality which we’d do better to accept no matter how stringently authoritative decrees are written to deny that reality?

My defense of the legitimacy of LGBT identity is part of what I would call a doctrine of respecting the identity of the other, which forbids me from presuming that I can know the truth about other peoples’ lives or identities better than they do, particularly when their identities are different than mine in substantial ways, since I do not have clairvoyant access to their personal experience. Since this doctrine valorizes other peoples’ personal experience, it seems to be diametrically opposed to an account of human nature in which personal experience is suspect because of the inherent brokenness of humanity due to original sin. But ironically, it is precisely my submission to the truth of original sin that compels me to proclaim a doctrine of respecting the identity of the other as part of recognizing the specific form of corruption in my own sinful human condition.

This doctrine of respecting the identity of the other responds to a historical context in which my Western Europe people for the last several centuries have given ourselves the “white man’s burden” of serving as the self-appointed experts in the classification and categorization of the rest of humanity, a process which has included giving ourselves permission to conquer other nations, sell them into slavery, and colonize their land so that they too can become “civilized” like us. Though it is not my fault that my ancestors enslaved, slaughtered, and exploited millions of brown people all over the world, I have inherited from them the presumption that I am an expert (whether as a modern scientist or postmodern critic) who has the authority to tell other people what they’re really like. More recently as queer identity has emerged as a distinct category in our civilization, the expertise of my people in telling others what they’re supposed to be has expanded to include “civilizing” queer people into  cisgendered heterosexuality.

Two of the basic flawed tendencies in the popular modern Western understanding of human identity over the past several centuries are its reductionism (all people are presumed to have the same basic human experience regardless of their cultural context which can be easily set aside) and ahistoricity (human nature is basically the same now as it’s always been). So in a modern Western reading of the consequences of Adam’s original sin in Genesis 3, every single human being is impacted by original sin in the exact same generic, ahistorical way as opposed to original sin having a specific, historically contextual shape that looks different for 17th century English people than it does for 19th century Samoans.

Because I was raised by an endocrinologist father, I don’t believe that the bacteria, fungi, and other natural biological processes that cause physical death suddenly came into existence as the result of a “curse” that happened at a specific moment in a time when two literal historical figures named Adam and Eve bit into a fruit because a talking snake said to do it. It seems clear to me that the story of Adam (whose name means “humanity” in Hebrew) is a parable that represents allegorically the tragically inevitable fall into sin that we all undergo in each of our human journeys in very particular, historically contextual ways. For me, a major dimension of the original sin into which I was born is the legacy of centuries of imperial presumptuousness on the part of my people, also known as white supremacy. I realize that term is jarring to many white people because we think it always refers to crazy skinhead Klansmen with swastika tattoos, but white supremacy simply describes the result of centuries of people living out with devastating brutality the assumption that Western Europeans had rationality and civilization figured out in a way that other cultures did not. White supremacy didn’t vanish into thin air when the US started celebrating Martin Luther King Day. The world order created by centuries of European imperialism is going to take many more generations to evolve into something else.

White supremacy is a cornerstone of the original sin that I must be delivered from. Other parts of the historically contextual original sin into which I’m born include the hyper-commodification of sexuality, consumerism, greed, workaholism, the myth of self-reliance, misogyny, queerphobia of all kinds, etc. All these social forces and others like them corrupt me in unavoidable ways before I can say no to them. They are the source of my sinful choices, which is not to disavow my personal responsibility for each and every choice. Original sin simply describes the default position in which I find myself before I choose to let God rescue me. It is the shape of the “world” to which I continue conforming (Romans 12:2, James 4:4) when I refuse the Holy Spirit’s invitation to deliver me into the secret kingdom where Jesus reigns.

While I believe that each culture and time has its own particular cocktail of original sin that people inherit, I would say that the nature of original sin’s corruption transcends time and culture. And I think the best understanding of the nature of this corruption can be deduced from studying the actual text of Genesis 3 instead of theologically speculating about generic dimensions of human nature that are corrupted by Adam and Eve’s choice. The road of theological speculation has produced the oft-stated assertion that original sin corrupts every aspect of human nature (total depravity as it’s often termed). But what does that even mean? Does my birth into original sin mean that I will see blue instead of green when I look at the grass? Does it mean that when I have a headache, it’s actually not the sign of any real malady like a fever or infection because original sin means that the physical sensations in my body are completely untrustworthy? Does it mean that the people I walk past on the sidewalk might not actually exist but could be figments of my corrupted imagination? I don’t think any Christian would answer yes to any of these questions, which means that the “everything about human nature” corrupted by original sin isn’t really everything.

So it seems more fruitful to base our understanding of original sin on what the Genesis 3 story actually teaches us about the fate of humanity after eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Two things happen to Adam and Eve that build off of one another: 1) they become ashamed of their nakedness (Genesis 3:7) and 2) they blame other people for their mistakes (Genesis 3:12-13). This basic posture of shameful, fearful defensiveness is what Augustine and Luther called homo incurvatus in se (“humanity curved inward on itself”). Basically, Adam and Eve’s story illustrates the origin of humanity’s preoccupation with the thing we call a “self.” Our self-preoccupation is the disastrous glue that makes all of our bad choices stick to us instead of floating away like water under a bridge. Instead of being happily un-self-conscious living in complete trust of our benevolent, generous Creator, we are cursed through original sin with our self-obsession, our acute fear that our lives and reputations are constantly under threat which means that we must devote all of our conscious energy into defending and justifying ourselves. We sin to the degree that we center the universe around ourselves instead of God.

When a man hits another man, something completely existentially different has happened than when a dog bites another dog, because of how the two men will remember the experience of violence and relate to one another in the future as a result. The victim will seek vengeance or cower in fear while the perpetrator will seek to justify himself for his sin, which will in turn corrode his ability to perceive reality accurately. He will find a way to convince himself that the victim deserved it and may even work himself up into anger at the victim for having made him feel guilty by being the recipient of his violence, which may cause him to hit his victim again and become even more deluded and perversely convinced of his infallibility. When dogs fight, they may establish some kind of pecking order in the neighborhood, but they just don’t have “selves” that they are preoccupied with defending and justifying the way that humans do.

Every single human being has not only inherited a social world damaged by the fallout from zillions of harmful, wicked deeds since the beginning of humanity. Worse, we have inherited a confused, corrupted view of reality established by the self-justification of the billions of people who enacted these harmful deeds. For example, in our American context, white people have no idea that we’re being racist when we presume that young black men we encounter in dark alleys are going to hurt us. It’s just “the way things are” because of the confused, corrupted view of reality breathed into us since our birth. Part of the reason that we have this perception is because our white ancestors needed to justify first slavery and then segregation. This need for self-justification meant that black men had to be depicted as innately violent brutes who must be civilized by slavery and later kept in their own part of town away from the white women whose virginity they supposedly threatened. This is the shape of a major part of my peoples’ original sin: the same shame-induced self-justification illustrated by Adam and Eve’s story translated into the particular context of our nation’s story over the last several centuries.

I realize that some white people get really angry about racism being called a sin, but there’s something to that. What if the way that we have defined sin to exclude racism is part of our collective self-justification and denial as a people? If Adam and Eve give me the most important clues about how I’m supposed to grapple with my original sin, it means that I should always be suspicious of my agenda of self-justification. An interesting way that the legacy of racism shaped my own life was my obsession with gangsta rap in middle school (along with millions of other scrawny middle-class white boys whose parents unwittingly made gangsta rap a financial success through their sons’ allowances). I bought NWA’s Straight Outta Compton because it was scandalously taboo and thus a cool way for a middle-class white boy to rebel. It was taboo not only because of the cuss words and violent content, but because of the racist cultural expectation for black guys like Ice Cube from Compton to be innately violent gangstas that made the brand work.

The same stereotypes that made Darren Wilson think he was wrestling with a demon in Ferguson were deployed by music industry executives in a slightly different form 25 years earlier to create a compelling and incredibly successful brand that gave a nerdy white boy like me a means of fantasizing about being tough. Memorizing the first three tracks of Straight Outta Compton was part of my agenda of self-justification in middle school. Though it didn’t really work, I thought I could say I wasn’t a nerd anymore if the popular kids heard me rapping in the hallway, “Straight outta Compton crazy motherf***er named Ice Cube from the gang called N***as With Attitude.” And that self-justification included embracing the misogynistic attitude of gangsta rap because I thought that part of being cool was saying with Ice Cube that “life ain’t nothin’ but b***es and money.” To recognize that the weird complexity of our racist legacy framed my sinful desires and decisions as a middle schooler doesn’t mean that I didn’t make deliberate choices, just as Ice Cube and the members of NWA made deliberate choices, and EMI Records made deliberate choices. But the original sin of racism was part of what chalked out the specific playing field on which I lived out my sinful self-justification.

As humans burdened by the curse of Adam and Eve, we live and breathe self-justification every day. One of the most important myths that the doctrine of original sin ought to utterly repudiate is the delusion that humans can ever agenda-less and objective about anything. Christians who claim to be “objective” may believe abstractly in something called original sin, but their emphatic declaration of their personal lack of corruption show that they don’t really see original sin as a force that impacts them personally. It’s under the cover of this myth of “objectivity” that many Christians (very often white males like me) use scripture for their self-justification. This happens when we use the Bible for building ideological platforms rather than cultivating lives of discipleship. It’s so much easier and more self-satisfying to be “Biblical” when what that means is having the right opinions about issues rather than actually loving your enemies, regarding others as better than yourself, or taking up your cross to follow Jesus, to name a few of the specific Biblical teachings that are supposed to be embossed into our lives. When I use the Bible as a sort of candy dispenser that spits out the right opinions about issues, then I have made it into a tool whose purpose is to give me authority over other people. I get to be the expert speaking authoritatively over the lives of the people around me, justifying myself the same way that my civilized European ancestors have been doing for centuries as they told supposedly inferior cultures what to do and used violence to make them do it.

The forbidden tree in the garden in Eden in Genesis 3 has a specific name: the tree of knowledge of good and evil. My race of superior expert people has been standing under that tree for centuries scarfing down fruit after fruit, relishing the authority we divinely sanction for ourselves to tell other people what they’re really like and what God is really saying to them. To the degree that we love our own authority, we’re followers of Adam and Eve, not Christ. What following Christ looks like is eating and drinking with sinners and defending them to their critics. It looks like railing against the gatekeepers who shut out the “unclean” until they crucify you. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have passionate opinions about the truth, but you ruthlessly judge and examine yourself to make sure that your championing of the truth isn’t really a championing of your own authority. And I’m not trying to say that holiness doesn’t matter because you should just love people and stuff. Holiness is what makes it possible for God’s love to pass through me when, instead of puffing out my chest as the authoritative expert on other peoples’ lives, I beg God to shatter every idol in my heart that keeps me from being perfectly hospitable to my fellow sinners who need unconditional love without qualification or smarmy self-justification in order to begin their journey toward confronting their sin and being made holy by God so that they can become the radical hospitality through which God touches somebody else’s life.

The doctrine of respecting the identity of the other is an acutely necessary outgrowth of the Christian doctrine of original sin, particularly for me as a descendent of people who think we know everything about everybody else. It is a renunciation of the tendency I inherited through my historically particular original sin to put myself forward as an expert categorizer and analyst of other peoples’ lived experience. I cannot trust my motives especially when I’m trying to pretend to be objective. That doesn’t mean that I can’t trust my knee to be telling me truth about pain when I bump into the corner of a table or that I can’t trust my eyes to be telling me truth about beauty when I see an incredible sunset. What I cannot trust is my attempt to hide the perpetual agenda of self-justification that I must always actively name and fight against.

I don’t think that people who say that they just know they’re gay or transgender are trying to justify themselves.  They are describing an overwhelming self-perception that just isn’t part of what gets corrupted by original sin any more than the physical ability to feel pain, see color, etc. There is nothing self-justifying about sharing scary, awkward truths about yourself that might get you thrown out of your home even as a young teenager. It’s the opposite of self-justification. It’s the confession of a truth that doesn’t make a person any more valid, especially in the eyes of the church, but simply rescues that person from keeping a deep, dark secret that far too often results in suicide.

I suppose it’s possible that some people might think it’s hip within their particular niche subculture to pass as LGBT so they try to give themselves cool points by pretending to be that way when they really aren’t (confession: Icalled myself “bicurious” at one point in time when David Bowie was my messiah). But I cannot make that accusation about anyone else without falling head-on into the original sin that my presumptuous expert categorizer ancestors passed along to me. The doctrine of respecting the identity of the other is my confession that I have no idea what God is revealing to people whose experiences I have never lived. It’s renouncing my need for the Holy Spirit to tell other people the exact same thing I am told by a particular Bible verse. Every time I need for the truth to be crystal clear and without nuance or mystery, my need is to have control over the truth, which means taking another bite out of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.

To recognize my own limits and fallibility because of original sin doesn’t mean that I can’t counsel people as a pastor about avoiding destructive behaviors and idolatry as I gain their trust. It does mean that I listen without pushing back or editorializing when people describe their terrifying experiences growing up in a body that is foreign to them. It means that if people feel like God has given them peace about a particular way of living out their gender or sexual identity, I respectfully leave it at that and commend them to God’s continued care and revelation. I am not defending the truth of original sin when I tell people that their first-hand life experiences aren’t real. I defend the truth of original sin every time I recognize my self-justification in trying to white-man-splain others and repent of it.

God is allowed to reveal truth to other people differently than the truth has been revealed to me. This is not only true about LGBT people but also the fundamentalist Christians who are virulently opposed to them. I have to accept that God is working in their lives and that they are praying fervently for him to show them his will just like I am, even though what God has shown me is vastly different than what God has shown them. I don’t understand it. Honestly I get angry at God about it. But I don’t have the authority to say that my interpretation of the Bible is the only possible way of understanding it. So let’s try to be disciples who are meek and poor in spirit instead of ideologues who know everything. I don’t think that this means throwing out our obedience to the truth. Actually it means assuming a humble posture with which we can much better explore the truth together with other people whom we can love without needing to explain.

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  • Gregory Nelson


    I love the Adam and Eve story because it is a fitting metaphor for the evolution of the human species, and specifically, for the development of the prefrontal cortex. From that moment on we stopped being perfect because from that moment on we knew there was such a thing as perfection. Before that we were in Eden. Then we got to thinking, and we knew it, and so we lost it. And so we started judging everything with a passion that changed everything. It’s true for 17th-Century Englishmen and 19th Century Samoans, as far as I know. We judge each other. That’s what God was trying to tell us was forbidden in Genesis. Otherwise, the god in Genesis is just some sly trickster, putting a tree in the garden that was forbidden. Just don’t plant it and we won’t eat it!
    But God wants us to grow through our evolution, to learn how to deal with the gifts He has given us. The gift of the knowledge of good and evil and the gift of his son.
    How else could you describe the cost we pay for our smarts?

    Once I began to see it that way I began to love the whole Original Sin concept. Before that I thought it was a bad idea.

    It tells me that we all suffer from sharing the capacity of judging others and ourselves. We use it and have used it to develop all our social constructs. But we have paid a price for it, too. The price has been our violence towards each other.

    You brought up James Alison. He says Christ came to turn us around (repent us) by occupying the place of the victim and taking over the whole arguement from that position by forgiving us. He calls Christ the Forgiving Victim. I like that idea a lot. I am a Christian based on that. I pray for the courage to walk near Him as He continues to walk with the victims.

    I think if it is true, Christ must be marching in the Gay pride demonstrations, and in the streets here in Ferguson, too.

    • Randolph Bragg

      If Adam and Eve and Original Sin and the Flood account are “figurative,” guess who else is “figurative?”

      • Just as it was in the days of [figurative/literal] Noah, so also will it be in the days of the [figurative/literal] Son of Man. Luke 17:26

      • For just as through the disobedience of the [figurative/literal] one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the [figurative/literal] one man the many will be made righteous. ~Romans 5:19

      • For as in [figurative/literal]Adam all die, so also in [figurative/literal] Christ all will be made alive. ~1 Corinthians 15:22

      But Christians still try to have their cake and eat it too.

      • Um, no. That doesn’t follow at all. One can compare and contrast fiction with fact. Jesus does it all the time with his parables. People do it all the time in literature and comedy.

        If I compared, say, Kim Jong Un with Darth Vader, does that mean Kim Jong Un must only be figurative? If I said that, between NSA surveillance and CIA “enhanced interrogation techniques” we’re coming dangerously close to George Orwell’s 1984, that since 1984 is figurative the CIA and NSA are as well?

        • Randolph Bragg

          So Adam and Eve’s original sin is “fiction?” Thanks for letting me know.

          So is atonement, redemption, and all that stuff.

          […] they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us.

          Plato (4th century BCE) The Republic. Book II.

        • summers-lad

          Well said. And I have no problem with Jesus or Paul using familiar passages from their scriptures to explain Jesus’ life and ministry, regardless of whether these passages were literal history. But “fiction” implies “not true”, whereas I would regard the early chapters of Genesis as conveying deeply true and important statements about God and humankind through a medium – myth or legend – which is not “fact” but also not merely “fiction”.

      • So are you an atheist troll or a fundamentalist Christian troll? It’s funny because you guys sound exactly alike.

        • Randolph Bragg

          Yeah, it takes a special kind of “progressive” stupid to think “If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives” and other passages do not mean what they clearly state.

        • Checked the comment history, and I’d say the former.

          • Randolph Bragg

            Not an atheist, not a fundamentalist. I think you need to get out a little more.

          • Ah, so just a run-of-the-mill troll, then. Okay.

          • Randolph Bragg

            You are? Cool!

          • lou77

            brilliant! I think sometimes the ‘voice’ is the same person in all similar posts. could it be…I don’t know…SATAN!?

  • summers-lad

    I like the way you uphold the capacity of all people to have true intuitions about ourselves, and your description of original sin contains much food for thought.

    Over some years I have come to the position where I don’t believe in original sin, at least in the Augustinian sense. “As in Adam all died, so in Christ all are made alive” says to me that as our salvation in Christ is not genetic, so our acquiring of our sin nature is not genetic. Perhaps we are born without sin, but undoubtedly we all acquire it – environmentally, or by osmosis, or however. If this is true then our nature is not totally deprived – we retain the image of God – although for sure we are all sinners.

    But if we can have a true self-image, we can also have a false one. Scott Peck wrote in “People of the Lie” that he could describe 10% or so of his psychiatric patients as evil, and these were people whose lives were dominated by the lie that they were without fault. They had to maintain this lie to themselves and others, and it caused great harm. I suppose we all have this tendency to some extent, although for most of us it doesn’t reach pathological proportions.

    We also all have a need for self-protection. A baby cries if it is hungry or left out in the cold. At any age we look after our basic needs. This is not sin. But it can so easily develop into sin – as you wrote, our humanity is curved in on itself.

    One of the most inspiring books I have ever read is “A Would-be Saint” by Robin Jenkins. The novel follows the central character, Gavin Hamilton, from age 8 to mid-30s. As a boy he is well-liked but self-centred. As an adult he is self-giving. The transformation is total, and yet the portrayal of the character’s development is utterly consistent. The novel is entirely believable. As a portrayal of human nature, it is brilliant.

    I was recently discussing the topic of gay clergy with a friend. I said it really comes down to whether you believe homosexuality is a sin or not. He responded that in that case as we are all sinners, no-one is qualified for ministry. Fair point.

    • Re: the gay clergy thing (at the risk of tangency):

      While I don’t view homosexuality as a sin, the issue does still matter if said gay clergy engages in homosexual relations. If a clergyman was openly a thief or openly carried on affairs with married women or openly sold crystal meth, we wouldn’t tolerate these things just because “all are sinners.”

      Thus, we have to look at the nature of sin itself. The “traditional” view is that sin is failure to obey; the more “progressive” view (and the one that seems to be espoused in the Gospels and Epistles ) is that sin is failure to love.

      And I guess this didn’t turn out to be a tangent, because now we’ve come full circle: Adam and Eve tend to be pointed out as the perfect example of why sin is failure to obey. God said “Don’t do X!” and they did X, and now here we all are in our messed-up world. He doesn’t need reasons for giving commands; the fact that He’s God is reason enough. So if He says “don’t be gay,” then you can’t be gay, end of story.

      However, if we are “under the law of liberty,” “not bound to empty philosophies, which depend on human tradition and the elemental principles of the world, but instead on Christ,” if “the entire Law is fulfilled in this command: to love your neighbor as yourself,” this changes the picture. The “works of the flesh” Paul talks about (of which homosexuality tends to be included) aren’t a laundry list of things forbidden by God just because He feels like it; they’re bad because they, in some way, devalue people or interfere with our ability to love. Drunkenness is forbidden, but it’s OK to drink (“the Son of Man comes eating and drinking,” after all); fornication is forbidden but sex is fine (“do not deprive yourselves except by mutual consent and for just a little while”); quarrels and strife are forbidden but we are to “expel the wicked person from among [us].”

      Homosexual activity would then fall into the same pattern; two dudes or two gals who join together in a relationship of mutual love and respect would fall under the law of liberty; anonymous hedonistic bathhouse sex, not so much.

      • I agree with your assessment that sin is failure to love. I would say that our obedience is to God’s love.

    • Good thoughts.

  • Randolph Bragg

    > When a man hits another man, something completely existentially different has happened than when a dog bites another dog…

    Not so different. Dogs know what’s up with human behavior, because they taught us how to behave in many ways.

    The closest approximation to human morality we can find in nature is that of the gray wolf, Canis lupus […] and led to the formulation of a hypothetical “lupification” of human behavior, habits, and even ethics (SCHLEIDT 1998).

    Wolfgang M. Schleidt & Michael D. Shalter (2003) Co-evolution of Humans and Canids, An Alternative View of Dog Domestication: Homo Homini. Evolution and Cognition. Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 57-72

  • Jo Flemings

    Hey Morgan- this is TOTALLY off topic. I haven’t read what you have written here in quite awhile so I am out of the loop on your thoughts lately- but I ran across these notes in a class I am taking and I want to forward them to you- for some reason as I read through this, your name came to my mind- I don’t know any other way to send this to you so I’ll throw it out here and if you can’t use it or it’s of no value I do apologize-

    But it occurs to me that one primary flaw in non-Catholic theology is that there is not a clear understanding of unity with Christ by way of the cross for every single individual believer. I think Protestants, especially Americans, by and large, prefer the idea that Jesus did the misery and we get the mercy- end of story. (substitutionary atonement) It’s all about the Resurrection, baby. While that appeals on many sensual levels, it is way wide of the mark, and the theological gap perpetuated by this misfire regarding perfect unity with the Most Holy Trinity by way of intimate union with Jesus in the Holy Spirit through the crucifixion is what causes so many to lose their azimuth toward heaven and miss really understanding conformity to the image of Jesus, perfect happiness, true joy and lasting peace.

    Here are the notes:
    The Analogy of the Life of Christ and the Life of the Soul

    Just as there is analogy between the eternal processions and the missions of the Son and the Spirit
    there is harmony and meaning between the visible and invisible, historical-concrete and personal-
    spiritual missions of the Word and the Spirit.

    What happened in the life of Christ unfolds in the life of the soul because the Holy Spirit communicates
    the full mystery of Christ to the Soul –

    What happened in history is renewed in mystery and the mysteries of Christ life are renewed in the
    personal histories of the saints.

    The birth of the Word in the womb of Mary is renewed mystically when the Spirit brings the Word
    to birth in the life of the believer.

    Mary is present in the life of the disciple just as she was present in the life of Christ.

    The Mysteries of Christ life are ordered to the Cross – the glory of the Father and the salvation of humanity
    through His perfect self-offering in love; accordingly, the mystical life is also ordered to the Cross so that all
    the inspirations of the Holy Spirit through his gifts lead to the perfect unity of creatures with God precisely
    because they lead to the Cross.

    I have ideas about this as I said before, but I am really sending this to you more because it might be something to think about- not to try to make a space for it here in your forum. Again I apologize for this means of giving you this thought- if not the thought itself. But this is the 21st century and you can just delete and take out the trash, however you see it! Merry Christmas!)

    • Those are good thoughts. Thanks for sharing them.

  • “Straight allies” proving once again how problematic they are.

    • Please say more if you’re willing to.

      • Leum

        As a straight person, you don’t have the lived experience needed to contribute to a discussion of whether non-heterosexual orientations are a result of fallen nature or not. This is especially the case if you bring up the issue without being asked by someone.

        If someone had asked you whether homosexuality was the result of fallen nature, the appropriate thing to do would be to point them towards a gay Christian who has addressed the issue.

        Since no one did, by raising the question yourself, even if only to deny it, you grant legitimacy to the viewpoint that this is question that it is appropriate for straight Christians to discuss. Which it isn’t. The appropriate role for straight people is to listen to queer Christians and point other straight Christians towards the queer Christians who have addressed it.

  • lou77

    thx for this;
    ‘a doctrine of respecting the identity of the other, which forbids me from presuming that I can know the truth about other peoples’ lives or identities better than they do, particularly when their identities are different than mine in substantial ways, since I do not have clairvoyant access to their personal experience.’

    AND his gem!

    ‘the hyper-commodification of sexuality, consumerism, greed, workaholism, the myth of self-reliance, misogyny, queerphobia of all kinds, etc. All these social forces and others like them corrupt me in unavoidable ways before I can say no to them. They are the source of my sinful choices, which is not to disavow my personal responsibility for each and every choice. Original sin simply describes the default position in which I find myself before I choose to let God rescue me.’