Crouching At Your Door
..if you do not do well,
Sin crouches at your door
And his desire is for you
But you must rule over him. God to Cain, Genesis 4:7
God and I look at sin in two different ways. By the way, if you are a betting man, you might want to put your money on the creator of all, but I will at least give you the benefit of my views. God looks at sin as something external (here we will tread pretty lightly on the concept of original sin since God never said anything about that at all). God told Cain that sin was something external, not that it was personified like a mad dog crouching at the door, that was just a divine metaphor, but that it was not a natural state of human behavior, that it was an evil that sought to impose itself on the human will and could be controlled.
As I may have written before, I don’t believe in sin. I believe that selfishness (which people call sin) is the basic nature of the human and that without selfishness, the human race cannot survive. What religion (or philosophy) does is raise the consciousness of the human to show how our natural predispositions need to be overcome, because even if selfishness is natural and beneficial (a baby crying because it wants to eat) it will go too far and turn on others destroying them and the actor in the process. As you can see, God and I do have an agreement on the need for control. I’m sure that God appreciates my vote of confidence.
When I feel angry, as I have of late, it is easy, and conscious cleansing, to see this anger as something crouching at the door, and not my natural selfishness needing to be gotten under control. Anger is not always from selfishness, but it usually is. The Christian churches like to characterize Jesus cleansing the temple as righteous indignation, because they don’t want to admit that Jesus was angry and therefore selfish and therefore (as they would see it) sinful. Maybe he was, righteously indignant that is , but I have always thought that his methods were unnecessarily provocative and somewhat over the top. Even if he was righteously indignant, did he have the right to make a “whip of chords” and turn over the tables of merchants who, after all, were probably outside the Temple itself and were performing a necessary service, even if some thought they were overcharging ? What about that whip of chords ? I believe that scripture is silent as to its use, but most whips are used for, well, whipping. That is not really consistent with what Jesus stood for, it is impossible to imagine Gandhi doing this. I think that we have to characterize Jesus as being guilty of not properly controlling his anger, being selfish, or at the very least overreacting, which is the same thing. Still, Jesus spent a few years of his life doing very dramatic things for their effect on others, getting himself crucified being one of them. Perhaps he felt that this was the only way to really call attention to a problem. Like walking on water, chord whipping is dramatic.
But how does one control these rages of selfish behavior which from time to time rear their ugly heads onto the plane of decency that we have been able to slowly construct over the years of our lives ? Who can say ? All religion and mental health therapy is really aimed at that, the control of the selfish impulses. From Moses to Freud and all of those before, after and in between those two, we have spent an awful lot of time struggling for answers. Some refer to this as the “perfection” of the human race and most believe that, as a race, we can’t get there from here. I don’t know. What I do know is that God’s way of explaining sin to Cain is very preferable to my way. It is a lot easier to fight evil than your own self interests, even if they are distorted.