September 10

Psalm 51:1-5

“Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.” vs. 5

According to Hebrew tradition this psalm was David’s response when Nathan, the prophet, confronted him after his dalliance with Bathsheba. Even if the writer wasn’t David it was surely a person struggling with deep and profound feelings of shame and guilt. Many of us know what that’s like. For one reason or another we manage to screw up our lives big time–even if our misdeeds haven’t become public knowledge we know what we’ve done. When our actions come to mind we are overcome with remorse and, like David, can even imagine that we are beyond redemption. Sometimes it gets so bad that we can’t discern one bit of goodness in ourselves and imagine that we are rotten to the core, that we were born guilty. Unfortunately this verse was used by Christian theologians as a basis for proposing and propagating the doctrine of original sin, an unhelpful notion that has often effectively obscured our original goodness. Just because there are times when we feel both real and imagined guilt doesn’t mean that we are by nature sinful and unclean. Do we sin? Of course we do–and sometimes our sins are horrendous–but those sins do not define us, and they certainly aren’t our mother’s fault! God will always have mercy and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. It happened for David and it regularly happens for the rest of us too! 

Thought for the Day: The worst I’ve ever felt for something that I did!

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