The Rev. Dr. Patrick S. Cheng of the Episcopal Divinity School says that we need to turn from a legalistic notion of sin to a Christogical one. He believes that sin is more than just an excess of pride but is also an excess of shame.
I believe that it is time to shift away from a legal model of sin (whether Biblical law or natural law) and towards a christological model of sin. Under this model, sin is defined not by Biblical law or natural law, but rather by our opposition, as Christians, to what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. That is, sin is a mindset; it is a mode of existence that stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the good news of the Word made flesh. In other words, sin is a matter of deliberately turning one’s back on what God has done for us in salvation history.
For example, let’s begin with the doctrine of revelation. According to Christian theology, God reveals Godself most fully in the person of Jesus Christ. As such, it follows that sin is the closet, or the resistance to revealing ourselves fully to God and to others. Indeed, as feminist theologians have argued for decades, sin is not just a matter of pride and raising ourselves up too high, but it is also a matter of excess shame and hiding our true selves from others.
If sin is defined as the closet, then sinners are those people who use the institution of the church to deflect attention away from — and cover up — their own hidden sexual secrets and crimes, as we have seen repeatedly in the ugly sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. Sinners are also the closeted fundamentalist ministers and preachers who virulently condemn LGBT people on the one hand and yet engage in hidden same-sex activities on the other.
By contrast, grace is defined as what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, which is coming out. For Christians, God reveals Godself most fully in the incarnation. Whenever we come out as LGBT people, we also become the living embodiment of God’s revelation of the Word made flesh. We are able to love others fully because we realize that we are first loved by God. And that, for me, is what the good news is all about.
Here is his essay in the Huffington Post.