Monday, September 8, 2014

Sin Management or Healing?

When religion is not about healing, it really does not have much to offer people in this life.”  
--Richard Rohr

This statement in Rohr’s book Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World From a Place of Prayer has stirred my thoughts as I think of our world’s conflicts and woundedness. The turf wars in Iraq, in Nigeria, in Israel, are only a few we see daily in the media. These are, in part, about religion interpreted with a fundamental view taking extreme actions. In their minds, they believe themselves to be in the right.

Most religious persons today do not have a view to such extremes. On the other hand, I do wonder about how we who consider ourselves “religious” have taken more of a focus of sin management, and less on healing.

Focusing on sin seeks to define what is “right” and what is “wrong”. Who defines this right and wrong, good and bad, depends on those in power. This is not only in the extremism of Islam and Jewish states, it is found in Christianity, as well. We all have a tendency towards creating law above the love of the people and healing for the community and the world.

I see this especially as fear rises along with experiences of violence and aggression in our communities. We talk of gun control and putting extremists in their place. How do we speak of healing and education towards communication with each other in conflict, with teaching peace and compassion among our young people?

This healing of the world must begin with the healing of the self and with those we are with on a daily basis. In his book, Rohr states,

 “Only whole people can imagine or call forth a more whole world. Healing depends on relating with love and compassion. Official religion usually focuses on imputing and then forgiving guilt. This is much more about sin management than proclaiming a larger-than-life vision for humanity. Remember that the ego contracts around problems. The soul gathers and is drawn by meaning.” (p. 55)

What this calls me to ask myself includes:

“Am I focusing on the problem (and trying to manage that)?” or “Am I seeking to understand meaning with an openness to heal-myself and the world around me?”

Am I needing to “be right”, which means I am judging others as being wrong? Or am I seeking truth and meaning, which has the opportunity to invite others into the conversation? Am I about sin management or healing? Healing is not about the law, but the soul. This is about seeking healing out of compassion. It is open to a diverse community. From my Christian point of view, I think this is what it means to be a disciple of the One who sat with sinners and loved them.


  1. Martha, thank you so for this post with your thoughts. I connected greatly with your words as I read them on my journey of over 5 years to see myself and our world differently. I have lived my life with sin management, trying to fix myself, seeking to gain control from the outside and had a false belief that I was inherently evil. This has caused me to continue seeking outside of myself for approval and for love. When all along it was really still here on the inside. I remain as God created me. Love is all I need, as simple as that sounds. Love is all around, in and out, over and under in this moment. Not in the past or in the future, but in the now that I am living. God has been wooing me to opening up to receive the gift of love and compassion that I already have -- to give instead of plan, to receive instead of organize, to live in the moment and love what the moment is, embracing it without judging it. Thank you for your writing. I read it each time you post and do feel as if we have a kindred spirit.

  2. Hello Cindy! Thank you for taking time to read and respond! I love hearing your insight, and how this touches your personal journey. I think we all have a difficult time getting past sin management to fully embrace that God simply created us in love, out of love, and for loving. Like you said, sounds simple, but it is difficult to embrace with so much dualistic thinking around us. Love hearing from you. I think, perhaps, we are indeed kindred spirits. :) God's peace, friend! -Martha