Sin used to be an elevated thing. It was the subject of grim and ornate representations by painters. Writers like Dante and Augustine pointed to the fiery hell that awaited those who flaunted what passed for sin then. Did I say pass for sin?

Yes, I did. We still define sin, if we define it at all, in highly selective terms. War is not seen as sin. The creation of masses of refugees is not judged as wrongdoing. We fail to see what sin actually is. Instead, we create a wall around the most prevalent sources of Harm and hurt and go backward in time to when it was convenient to do what Adam did in the garden, blame the woman.

Sex as sin

The most common suggestion about sin is that it is what most shames and that would be sex.

Yes, sex in all its manifestations is the champion source of sin talk. Scandal sheets are happy to serve up the salacious. Shock TV is pervasive. Culture is in lockstep

Violence is even most consumed on a cultural level when it is tied to sex.

Irony reigns

But irony wins every time. As sex continues to stand in for sin, the extent and time factors related to sex are expanding with amazing rapidity. Children are hooking up. There is scarcely any talk about sex as serious love. And fashion is now inured to nudity.

This is all bull

I am being polite. The refusal to link sin with actual evil is a sign of a culture askew. Real evil is harm and there is hardly anything more harmful than domestic abuse and the desecration of children and girls and women and increasingly of men as well.

Evil and sin must be tied to their human acts and expressions.

Any act of hurt of harm is evil. Trump is evil when he engages in harmful speech or intentionally excludes. Racism is evil. Ganging up is evil. The amount of evil, if we see it as harm, is immense. It relates to fundamental values. It relates to intolerance, to the failure of ethics, and to the actions of corporations and governments. We need to wake up to reality.

Beyond being askew

We will not be a culture askew if we adopt a sane attitude to sin and evil. A reasonable view is that all forms of harm are evil in their effects. This is always more or less the case. Death may be absolute along with other results of violent harm. But most harm is relative. That does not mean we can ignore it.

Values and spirituality

We need to see in ourselves and in everyone else capacities for good and evil. We need to see how evil can range from semi-conscious investment in harm via corporations and governments to the actual inflicting of injury and death.

I shall discuss one solution to this conundrum in the next article. In a World of sin and evil, we can only have progress if there is a way forward. That way relates, I believe, to values and spirituality.