If I robbed a bank and you forgave me, would the court let me off the hook? If my father was a child abuser and my uncle forgave him for it, would that make me feel better? If your wife cheated on you and her sister took the blame, would you feel better?
On Christmas Day it seems appropriate to contemplate the meaning of Christianity. Not Christmas, all the cheer and sharing and such – that's all good stuff. I'm talking about Christianity itself.
Even though most Christians are very moral people, and even though Christianity has many redeeming features, ultimately we can't ignore the fact that the message at the very heart of the story of Christmas is ... well, just plain wrong. Flawed. Immoral.
What is that idea? That we humans are deeply and incurably immoral. That we're depraved and sinful. And that we are born in that depraved state. Christianity teaches that from the very first breath we take, we already are in need of forgiveness and redemption. Christmas is about a savior who supposedly fixes all that. (Isn't that a wonderful meme? "You're in bad shape, but we have the cure!")
This is such a twisted, sick way to look at life and love that it's no wonder we have so many problems in the world. But it gets worse. On top of the idea of "original sin" you add the fact that someone besides your victim can forgive you. Who on Earth decided that one person could take the blame for another person's sins, and that would make it OK? That's just a plainly wrong philosophy. The only person who can take the blame for your sins is you. (Actually we know who invented this idea, and it wasn't Jesus.)
Hey, maybe that's why the Pope doesn't know how to apologize properly. He's used to apologizing to God and has forgotten that he also needs to apologize to the victims! But that's another story...
As the year draws to a close, it's an excellent time for all of us, no matter what our faith, to get together with family. It's time to be thankful for all of the good that we have in our lives and to appreciate those who helped make our lives good. And it's a good time to consider the things we've done wrong, make amends, and to contemplate why we made those mistakes.
But never fall for the idea that you are a bad person. Surely there are truly bad people in the world. But the idea that we are all bad "out of the box" is one of the most destructive and immoral ideas in human history. If you do something bad, by all means you must apologize and make it right! We are not born with sin on our heads. We are born innocent, and it's up to us to screw that up. Be a good person and you'll have no need to apologize.
So I hope you all had a very merry Christmas, and I hope you'll contemplate the true meaning of the core tenet of your faith. And to every, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist or anything else, enjoy the Winter holiday, thank your friends, forgive your enemies, make amends for your mistakes, and take credit for the good things you've done. Life is good, but it's up to us to make it so.