Las Vegas was our fly-in destination for our recent family trip to the Grand Canyon. As we were taking in the sites of the “strip” my wife said to our kids: “This is a really an interesting place – Look all around and take it all in. There is a ton of crazy going on here – They call it ‘sin city.'”

One of my daughter’s stopped, and curiously asked, “What’s sin?” My wife paused (for more than a few moments), and responded: “It’s when you make decisions that later on you are not proud of.”

What a great response, I thought. And it got me thinking – What exactly is sin? Is it an objective wrong – against God? Or it is something more subjective – like making decisions that limit our potential?

I was coached, through Catholic grade school, in the objective wrong definition. That sin was something bad we do against God. Something akin to hurting God’s feelings. As a parent, however, it’s hard for me to put much credence in that answer, especially if God is of the loving sort. If my children do something wrong (at least in my eyes), I don’t get hurt feelings and hold it against them. I certainly get frustrated (probably more than they would like), but ultimately, I view it as a learning experience. A way for them to grow – Learning through trial and error.

The subjective definition of sin is more consistent with my reality as a parent. As my wife so artfully stated – Sin is a decision that upon hindsight limits us from becoming all we can be – from growing – from experiencing our potential. A decision that slows down the process of growth.

I appreciate the subjective definition of sin. It allows for personal responsibility – for do-overs – for learning -for being our own bosses. I also appreciate, like parents watching their children make mistakes, that “sin” is neither “bad” nor “good” as long as it is used for growth.

Could it be that “sin” is just another name for “a decision that later on you are not proud of?” And could it be that sin is neither “good” nor “bad” but a necessary part of life for growth?

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