By Zoe Say, YYCCM Team Member
Laughter erupted from me as I strained not to spew my mouthful of cappuccino all over the beautiful wooden table in front of me. I quickly swallowed and then let loose, along with the entire group around the table. Our laughter rang throughout Knox United Church’s gorgeous sanctuary; bouncing off of pews, rising to the stained glass windows and echoing around the vaulted ceiling. As we quieted down, our fearless facilitator Rev. Nick Coates dove into the question raised and the cause of our laughter, “If original sin is thought to pass from generation to generation through the seed, or sperm, of Adam, would masturbation, therefore, be a good thing, as it “spills the seed” which spreads the sin?” The topic of our conversation shifted from original sin to masturbation, and whether it was good or bad or somewhere in the middle. Rev. Nick helped us look at the story of Onan “spilling his seed” in the bible, and a new take on what God might have been really mad about (here’s a hint, it’s not the act of masturbation).
This is exactly the kind of conversation and ethos I hoped to create with a slight shift for year two of Dirty Theology, a partnership program of St. Andrew’s Regional Ministry and ourselves, now being hosted in Sanctuary Coffee at Knox. For this second year, we decided to spend time digging deep into one of the grittiest topics of the Christian Faith - Sin. Specifically, busting through some of the myths, guilt, and shame that often surround the word sin, and reclaiming how it might be helpful in today’s society.
Last year we loved delving into some of the Bible's most risque stories but found ourselves yearning for a bit more time to delve into how the Bible story or topic affected our daily lives. Instead, we spent a lot of time unpacking the bible story, and only a little chatting about how that story was also our story, as Rev. Nick Coates likes to stay. The bible is rich with stories about the messy lives of humans, muddling their way through life, falling down, trying again, and God meeting them there. The hope this year is to start from an overarching theme of Mythbusting Sin, flush it out to individual focus topics each month, and then bring in the Bible as it relates to what we're talking about. We already have many topics that emerged from last Sunday's discussion that I can't wait to dig into throughout the year. We will have a focus topic for each month under the broader theme of Mythbusting Sin such as racism or sex. These can be one-offs, so there is no pressure for young adults to show up every month, but will also have a flow and build upon one another.
As Program Director for the YYC Campus Ministry, I spend a lot of time hanging out with young adults and chatting about faith. One of greatest barriers young people have toward religion is a fear and expectation of judgement. They hear a lot in the media around sin, shame and guilt in relation to Christianity. Rev. Greg Glatz, the brains behind Knox United Church’s Sanctuary Coffee, jokingly put on one of their signs for the cafe “no you won’t burst into flames if you walk into the church”. This, sadly, is not far off from what many expect. It is exciting to attempt to dig into and reclaim sin not as a tool for judgement, but rather a way to address the barriers that come between us and the love that Jesus both preached and lived.