I remember when I received the news. It was early, one Sunday morning, I was still in my pink flannel nightgown, the one with white lace trim. And if memory serves, I was playing with paper dolls. I was five, and feeling pretty good about myself until I heard the man on the TV declare that we’re all born sinners.
I couldn’t imagine how such a thing could be true. I was young but I knew the basics: Jesus was a really important fella, and God was even more important than he. I also knew if I made God angry, there’d be hell to pay – literally.
But now this? I’d only just gotten here. How could this have happened? I hadn’t even called one person a bad name, nor pocketed one unpaid for candy bar, and yet somehow I had already sinned. My mind reeled. How did a sin manage to sneak into my life without me even noticing? The thought made me wonder if any other sins had snuck into my life without me noticing. I felt doomed. If I didn’t fix things, I’d land in the place where bad people go: h-e-double hockey sticks. I was a marked woman. We were all marked from the get go. At least that’s what the man on TV said.
The world suddenly felt complicated. I went from feeling good about myself to feeling bad. I was told we were made in God’s image. But if we were born sinners, then wouldn’t that mean God was a sinner as well. Or so this was how I posed the question years later to my mother. She didn’t have any real answers. I remember her saying something about sex and something about Adam and Eve. My mind reeled even more. But God created Adam and Eve and gave them free will. God also created sex: the act, the creation that comes afterward, the whole kit and kaboodle. How could any of it be deemed a sin? And by whom? Who decided this? And why was I to blame for something someone else did? My mother listened to a litany of questions when I was a preteen. But I needed things to make sense. And thus my research of theology began. I needed answers. I didn’t like the concept that I had done something wrong, and should feel bad if I didn’t adhere to someone else’s guidelines to set it right.
After many years, and much research, I found my own religion. My religion is the one that rests within my soul. I decided a long time ago that if I was made in God’s image, then I was just fine the way I was – as was God. There have been quite a few gifted teachers that have walked this earth; their words spoken to help guide and instruct; words, I feel, that have been terribly maligned and twisted to suit the needs of others. Whenever someone has a vested interest in my beliefs or the beliefs of others, I question their words. To that end, I often question myself. Doing so is how I keep myself on the right road. But the road is one I engineer and create. I really don’t believe in sin. If I did I’d say it should be a sin to force one’s beliefs upon another. We aren’t all on the same journey. We aren’t all walking toward the same end. There isn’t one, right way. The way is for us to decide. Finding the way is why we are here.
The threat of hell can’t be used to frighten me anymore, the way it was when I was a child. Because as I’ve grown I realized that hell is not a destination, it’s a state of mind and reality many of us have lived through during our lifetime. I don’t need to be judged by anyone, but me. And if pointing out the destructive nature inherent to this act of condemning someone as a sinner, someone who emerged due to the miracle of childbirth – then call me a sinner.
Blog written to, Itchin on a Photograph by Grouplove