The Original Sin, the Original Blessing, and Your Finances

money beliefs shame Sep 29, 2020

When working with financial therapy clients, we delve deep into their emotions, where the emotions come from, and how they impact the client, relationships, and their financial future. We look at both the good and the bad, address them, and create a plan to move forward so they can find financial wellbeing and the security they desire. One barrier that often comes up is the theological teaching of original sin and the chronic shame this causes. With the theory of original sin we are taught that we are all bad, and because of that Jesus died to save us from our sins. There is however another theological view, that of the original blessing. The question is, would adopting the theory of original blessing as opposed to the original sin have a positive impact on your financial wellbeing?

What is the Theory of Original Sin?

My religious upbringing was in the liberal Methodist faith. I do not recall hearing the words sin or original sin until I moved to Houston, Texas. I became involved in the non-denominational/evangelical community. It was there I studied Christian theology, coming to understand original sin, and how we are all bad. That ‘badness’, which I would now call shamefulness, made me feel miserable and unworthy. What was meant to make me feel loved in God’s eyes, did just the opposite. Even today, years later, as I speak about it, I feel shameful. This is the chronic shame that can permeate your life, causing you to feel anxious, fearful, guilty, and even unlovable.

The shame of original sin is not linked solely to the evangelical faiths but also can be found in the Catholic faith and others. Regardless of the religion, the story is the same. Many of my Christian, or formerly Christian clients, and I include myself here, struggle with overcoming the crippling feelings of not being loveable or good enough on my own merit. These emotions and chronic shame that come along with them, rob us of the joy from our hard work and a sense of personal satisfaction, and our own worthiness. By residing in this state of shame, we may sabotage our future by not taking risks such as seeking a better job or instead by living an overindulgent lifestyle that prevents us from paying the bills on time or reaching our bigger financial goals.

What is the Theory of Original Blessing?

On the other hand, there is a theory of original blessing, which is the awareness of ‘goodness’ and creation based on Jewish teachings. Matthew Fox, an Episcopal priest, author, speaker, and activist, wrote an entire book, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality, on this subject. While Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, author, and globally renowned teacher of unifying religious beliefs, simplifies this concept and states that the original blessing is God’s choosing us and loving us as we are. Imperfect and flawed, yet he loves us, and therefore we must be good. If we are loved for being who we are by God, will that change our beliefs and eliminate our chronic shame? Will that prevent the negative emotions we feel when living with chronic shame? The expectation (or so the theory goes) would be if we accepted this original blessing, we would release the shame we feel from the original sin, and escape the emotions that come along with the shame. By living with the belief in ourselves and our goodness, we could confidently make the decisions necessary to move forward to the joyful future of financial wellbeing we desire.  

And what does all this mean on our quest for financial wellbeing?

We cannot ignore or underestimate the shame endured by some Evangelical Christians, Catholics, and others who have inherited ideas about their self worth from their faith. Nor should we dismiss the possibility that the teaching of the original blessing might help them avoid the chronic shame so many face. I can say many of my clients have adopted a different viewpoint along their journey, letting go of the pain and anguish of feeling unworthy of love, belonging, or acceptance because they have believed for several years they’re inherently ‘no good.’. Adopting a different viewpoint has led to changes that have given them a sense of purpose and direction in their lives and have lead them to a place of financial wellbeing and excitement about their future. They look forward with confidence, to creating the future they desire, knowing they are deserving and worthy.

 To read more about this topic, read my recent article, What You Need to Know About the Three States of Financial Wellbeing.

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