But the second phase is defining terms. While we in the western world assume that when we talk of "sin" we are speaking the same language or on the same page. But I beg to differ. So, I must define "sin" as I was taught in my culture, the Bible belt of the deep south. As usual I will attempt to speak in real, colloquial, terms not the official positions put out by theologians at the Southern Baptist Convention.
Growing up we were taught what I would call the Hansel and Gretel version of metaphysics an spirituality. It starts with God always existing in the real world, which is the non-physical or spiritual world. Then, God got lonely so He decided to create soulettes (or mini-mes), in His image. But He didn't want just any soulette as his friends and subjects. He only wanted those who had proven themselves somewhat like the Navy Seals look for a few good men and weed out the weak ones through extremely hard training. However, God thought that most of his created soulettes would made the grade. If a soulette didn't make the grade, then not only would they be banned from coming back inside the real spiritual world, they would be quickly scheduled to eternal torture of the maxim kind. The Presbyterians down the road believed that God created these soulettes specifically for this eternal torture chamber.
To test the soulettes, God spit out a three dimensional universe of matter, rocks and dirt, as His testing field. He put these soulettes on the round dirt clod, which we call Earth. However, back in the real "world," the spiritual domain, one of God's most faithful servants rebelled, taking with him a huge crowd of spiritual beings (but not soulettes). They also continued possessing their original supernatural (or outside the matter-world which God has spit out) powers.
In this testing field God had given some arbitrary rules. He could weed out the bad guys if they did not follow these special rules, which He created just for this occasion.
In our Bible belt culture, the rules were in hierarchical order. The failure to obey these rules was what we call "sin." This is how we ranked the sins in the Bible belt starting with the worst and going to the least.
2) Homosexuality (not homosexual acts but being homosexual)
5) Not Going to Church
6) Drinking alcohol
7) Smoking under the age of 40. Over 40 people were exempt because they had fought the Germans in WWII.
9) Saying a list of forbidden words, picked randomly by God to test us. These include of course damn, hell, shit and a few others.
10) Hating someone (which was always hard to prove or disprove)
11) Lusting, feeling sexual aroused in any situation where you were not having sex with your spouse.
Did I forget any?
And as I said, these were considered purely arbitrary and just as easily could have included such "Cider House" types of rules as not touching aluminium with your left hand. Actually, some of the fine print rules were that specific (Levitical law). However, those rules didn't apply to us because we were Southern Baptist . . . not Jewish.
So, rather than just a few failing the test, with the help of the rebellious supernatural villans (Satan et al) the whole dirt clod went to hell (literally) from the very beginning. God was very confused and scratched his head. "What am I going to do?" Then He comes up with the idea of Him coming to earth through his hybrid offspring, half of the spiritual realm an half of the matter-world. This hybrid would be the first matter-soulette to live their entire life and never disobeying one of the rules . . . so, he immediately would win direct permission to come back inside. However, rather than coming inside, he took the eternal torture for top 10 % of the rule keepers, so that they could come back inside and not face the torture, which they deserved.
So, back in our real world of the Bible belt, we kept score of our sin, hoping that we would be in the top 10%.
Certainly I see the perspective of those in my old Sunday school class. When you look at the world of the 1950s ( speaking of on-the-surface) it certainly looks like the world today is collecting those personal sins (listed above) at a much faster rate. Therefore, it would make sense that they have less guilt about it.
I've said enough this time around. I will continue this in the next few days.