I no longer believe that we are born with a sin nature. Since working with children, I have had the privilege of witnessing their innocence. It is our traumas and abuses in life that shape what we become. Nature vs. nurture. I believe it is nurture, unless there is an actual brain defect at birth.
A few months back, I was playing a word game with my second grade students. I gave them a big word on the whiteboard, and asked them to come up with as many other words as possible, from the letters within the big word. After a few rounds, they were stuck. I gave them clues. When they reached their end, I pointed out the words to them.
One of the words was ‘sin.’ They asked me what it meant; they had not heard of it before. After explaining, I immediately wished I had not introduced them to that burdensome concept. Alas, I could not take it back. All I could hope for, was that they would not remember it.
I thought to myself, how beautiful it must be, not to be labeled a sinner at birth. To live freely, by your own moral choices and convictions, to be a good or bad person, knowing that you have control of your decisions and actions. When life goes wrong for you, from uncontrollable factors like trauma and abuse, you can get help without being condemned for it. If you choose to be a bad person, you face the consequences for it, either from internal torment or external punishment.
I often say it was not traveling that changed my perspectives. The change in my thinking came from reading about psychology during my healing process from trauma and abuse. However, I think I do have to admit that travel, too, played a role in changing my perspectives. Living and working with people of different cultures, faiths and worldviews, brings fresh insight into old problems. It has all come together to make a new, big picture for me.
It shames me to think that I once bought into the belief that “the whole world is lost, dark, dying and deceived by Satan except for Christians.”
I have seen children, untainted by any religion, being free. They are kind, loving, generous, empathetic and innocent. I have also seen kids change from being sweet-natured to being troublesome, after traumatic and abusive episodes. It is their experiences shaping their psyche as they grow and develop.
On the other hand, I have seen many Christians claiming to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, yet showing no fruit of the Spirit.
Sin nature? I do not think so. You are born beautiful, whole and perfect, exactly as God intended you to be. If you have hurt someone, change. If you have been hurt, heal. With the right support and education you can make improvements to yourself and your life.
Your brain has the elasticity to transform. Your attitudes, values and beliefs are also adaptable. There is choice in the here and now. It is not predetermined and it is not out of your control. You are free!