Sin is centrifugal. When at work in a human life, it tends to push everything out toward the periphery. Bits and pieces go flying off until only the core is left. Eventually bits and pieces of the core itself go flying off until in the end, nothing at all is left….
Other people and (if you happen to believe in God) God or (if you happen not to) the world, society, nature—whatever you call the greater whole of which you’re part—sin is whatever you do, or fail to do, that pushes them away, that widens the gap between you and them and also the gap within yourself.
For many, the central existential issue is not a sense of sin. Yet, though the language of sin may not speak very powerfully to them, the language of blindness, exile, alienation, a closed heart, or captivity to culture may speak with great power. Also for some, the issue is not their own sin, but their victimization by others. For example, what does the message of sin and forgiveness mean to victims of domestic abuse? Though at some point they may need to forgive their abusers in order to get on with their own lives, an emphasis upon sin may lead them to focus on what they have done to cause their abuse. For them, the message they need to hear is not that they have sinned and need forgiveness, but that it is not God’s will that they live under an abusive and oppressive power. God wills their liberation and safety.