Sometimes I have one major thesis in mind that I want to defend. But today I just wanted to bring up different aspects of this very fascinating subject.
First of all let me just be straight and upfront. I think the concept of sin is a great idea. The ancient Greeks certainly had this in a powerful way. But for them a sin for Aphrodite was a mitzvah for Venus. You just could not win them all. And even the gods were subject to the Fates. And all together, even the Fates, were subject to the meta-Divine realm. When God gave the Torah, this changed. In the Torah, the concept of sin is very well defined. The Torah reveals an amazing fact. That there is only one God that we will have to give a reckoning to. And that day of reckoning will come.
But because people are sinful, they like to excuse sin in different ways. One is by defining sin out of existence. Another is to make the social norms of the social group to be the definition of virtue, and deviation from social norms they define as sin. Philosophers get out of the problem of sin by coming up with some nice sounding abstract principle. When you first hear it, it sounds reasonable. But then they use it to justify out things which people know by common sense are wrong In fact, this is the major occupation of philosophers in this generation. [Examples: Principle of Double Effect of Anscombe. or for example people know it is wrong to steal. But Marx comes up with a whole theory that property is theft and you get Khmer Rouge Cambodia, Stalinist Russia and Enver Hoxha's atheistic Albania. Not beacons in the darkness.]
I would like the defend the idea of sin as a simple concept. It is things that God says in the Bible not to do. Or it is ignoring things that you are supposed to do. And someday you and I will have to give an account for why we ignored this.
Now I know that some people use the Talmud to over define sin. I agree that this is bad. (Some people take obscure statements from the Talmud and make it look ridiculous.) But based on the Torah and Talmud, I think I can come up with a short list of things that can define for every person the idea of sin. In fact, I don't even have to do it. There already is this short list. It is called the Ten Commandments. But since this list has been clichéd out of existence maybe I still need to state plainly what sin is.
Sin is: disobeying your parents. Sin is to lie or even say an non truth with no malicious intention. Sin is to cheat in business. I could go on, but you get the idea. Well, maybe I should go on. Sin is coveting that which belongs to your neighbor, or using your voting power to get possession of what belongs to your neighbor. Sin is adultery (sex with a married woman. Not sex out of marriage.).--which has a specific definition--but I would include all the relations mentioned in Leviticus.
But every groups has it own norms that differ from these that they try to make into the level of the Ten Commandments. In some groups it is the greatest sin to support the Jewish state. In other it is a sin to wear the wrong clothing. I agree that these things are taken with great seriousness. I just hold that the social norms that religious cults or political movements to promote do not have the benefit of Divine approval.
Now I need to get to the second idea about sin.I don't hold that it is wrong because God commands us not to do it. I don't think it is wrong and so God commands us not to do it. Rather i believe that God made people in a certain way.A nature way, and also made hidden paths to his divine Light.the things that God commands us are just telling us about an existing road map.Not being the road map is wrong because it leads one off the cliff. It is not wrong simply because it is written in the road map. there is a reason it is there.
I hope this does not sound like religious fanaticism. If it does I apologize. I know some people even in this subject do go a bit overboard. I have heard of people that in fact know than sin is wrong. But then they are aware of an alternative religion science-ism--the belief that only what science says is true , and these people starting from Kierkegaard wanted to defend the Bible from the onslaught of Hegel and philosophy. They said science is wrong and goodbye. This I feel is wrong. I grew up in a Jewish home in which there was a place fro Torah and science together with zero contradictions I feel that Torah and Talmud can hold their own ground in any competition with any philosopher. But I don't think they could win a war against philosophy and science. They just deal with different issues. When I go to town is see there are stores which sell clothing and others which sell food. I don't see that there is any conflict. Clothing and food are different things which I value. No conflict.