What is Sin?

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“We don’t believe homosexuality is a sin,” countered Meghan Bean-Smith, 24, a lesbian studying to be a minister in the United Church of Christ. “One of the markings of a sin is that it harms other people. Two people loving each other aren’t hurting people.”

–From San Francisco Chronicle Story

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Q. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 14

The quote at the top of the page is pulled from a newspaper story. I chose the quote not because of the matter being discussed, namely, homosexuality. This quote illustrates a very problematic definition of sin. Granted, the interviewer did not state that “harm [to] others” is the only and exclusive definition of sin. She did, however, do a fair job at implying this. Her logic flowing somewhat along the following lines:

“My sexual orientation causes no harm to others therefore it is not sinful.”

The question arises as to whether an act must cause harm in order to be sin. The Catechism suggests that a harm need not occur in order for an act to be sinful. Under this rubric then it is fair to say that simply because Woman A and Woman B are in love and in a committed same-sex relationship and both are happy does not, of necessity, determine that such a relationship is not sinful.

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