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How would you define sin?

In the B&NU book discussion of Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis, the question was posed:

How would you define sin?

As you might imagine, this kicked off a number of responses from people from different religious and theological backgrounds. Here are a few of the responses (edited for length):

-This question was asked when I was in seminary in a phd level class with a biologist professor. One student explained that anything that causes harm, pain or suffering to another is a sin. To which the biologist replied there is no such thing as pain, it is simply a cultural conditioning. After much frustration in trying to be as logical and level headed as possible, the British brother who prided himself in detachment and not being pulled into the emotion of a discussion finally lost it and replied, if I put my cigarette out on you face, that would cause you pain and that would be a sin.

-The philosopher Cornelius Plantinga defines sin as any culpable disturbance of shalom. Culpable meaning it was intentional. Shalom being the peace that God intends for the world. (see his book Engaging God's World)

-I guess I'd fall back on "estrangement from God." I would say that estrangement from other human beings and from the creation as a whole follows from estrangement from God; we cannot, I think, have true fellowship with one another or the creation if we do not ground our fellowship in God's grace, nor do I think that we can enjoy fellowship with God and not begin to see the signs of restoration in our fellowship with each other and the world.

-I’ve heard ‘sin’ comes from the Hebrew (and I'm no Hebrew scholar) word meaning 'miss the mark'. It evolves out of the notion of a target and the centre is the bull's eye. The archer tries to hit the bull's eye but doesn't quite make it or he/she sins. Missing the mark. As I live my life I find many times when I've just missed the mark in relationships, choices, actions, words, etc.

-Wouldn't sin be defined as anything that stands in between us and God? Sin in its nature separates, right? In Genesis 3, we see that Adam and Eve hid in shame from God. The sin naturally separates. Can you imagine not wanting to be in the presence of God? So imagine you are Adam or Eve, spending time in direct fellowship with God. Would you really not want to be with God if you had the chance? But there sin separated them from even wanting to be in fellowship with Him. That is pretty amazing.

-At this point in my walk I would describe sin as: anything that takes one further away from the life and character of God.

A variety of thoughts. So, how about you? How would you define sin?

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