Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Being Sinless

Every Christian believes that when we get to heaven we will be sinless. But as a protestant I found that hard to imagine. I had been trained in the doctrine of total depravity. That all people are stained by sin at all times. Nothing is spared. Least of all me. I was so far from being sinless I could not even imagine it. In fact, imagining it was probably the sin of pride.

The effect of this was for heaven to be unreal. Sure you believe that after you die you go to heaven and it is very nice. But you can't even think of what one  moment in heave might look like. Not what you will be like or what anyone else would be like. You are just sure that whatever it is it will be totally outside any experience on earth. Not even comparable. It is almost like the being in heaven will be something else, even someone else.

Then I became Catholic and had to deal with the idea that Mary was sinless while on earth. That seemed too weird. The transformation that was supposed to happen when we enter heaven had already happened to her. But she lived her life on earth. She was a mom. She had a husband. She got frustrated when she could not find the boy Jesus for 3 days.

It was one thing to believe Jesus was sinless. Jesus is God so I am not going to think that a sinless me would be exactly like Jesus. But Mary is not God. It makes me wonder if sinlessness is something we could achieve or at least get close to. It gives me a continuity between heaven and earth. The person I will be in heaven and the person I am on earth are one.

Why should I believe in the Immaculate Conception? Why should I believe in the virgin birth? As a protestant I believed in the virgin birth because it was in scripture. I understood that accepting scripture meant accepting all of it. I could not just opt out of this part without knocking the foundations out from all biblical teachings.But beyond that there was a certain logic to it. Mary needed to be pure because Jesus was special.

But the logic of the Immaculate Conception was exactly the same. It was based on revelation from scripture, tradition, and the magisterium. I could not ignore that without effecting the logic foundation of everything. I had been doing a ton of thinking about that so that was obvious. But the logic was the same as well. If it was important for Mary to be free from sexual sin why would it not be important for her to be free from other sins? If Mary needed to be pure then why would God go halfway?

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