Are traditions such as flogging and carrying and being nailed to a cross as a personal sacrifice sinful acts?
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If I'm not mistaken, being penitent is feeling sorrowful, having regret or a guilty conscience for having done wrong. Cain and Esau experienced these emotions but did not repent (have a change of heart/mind) and continued in their ways. (Jude 1:11) (Hebrews 12:16-17) If you are talking about flagellation, a type of discipline involving whipping, flogging, sometimes self induced, that is another matter. I personally do not see how it can be anything other than wrong and sinful, even sadistic. In religion, I believe the practice of flagellation comes from a wrong understanding of sin and sin nature. Some apparently believe(d) that sin resides in the human body. The whippings and tortures were performed in the hopes of driving out sin and/or evil spirits. Origen, a second/third century theologian and scholar reportedly castrated himself in the hopes of removing sexually sinful desires only to later find out, "Oops, my bad". David wrote in Psalm 51:5 "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." David was either stating he was illegitimate or born with a sin nature. We have record of his genealogy in the Bible so we know the latter is true. He wrote again in Psalms 58:3 "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies". Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Sin resides in the human heart/mind, the soul, the seat of emotion, our core. Whippings or beatings certainly give us a painful reminder of doing wrong and to a certain extent change outward behavior yet the desire and tendency is still there. I can whip or punish my pet squirrel for climbing up things yet he will continue to climb because that is his nature. We need the new nature which comes from the the new birth by the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit.
Important to note: Not every Catholic practices or understands their faith. A few devout Filipinos offer themselves to be nailed to crosses on Good Friday is an extreme display of devotion that the Catholic church looks down upon as a form of folk religion but appears powerless to stop. The practice, which started about 60 years ago as form of religious vow by poor people seeking forgiveness, a cure for illness and the fulfillment of other wishes. Archbishop Paciano Aniceto said the gory practice was a distortion of Christ's teachings of love and selfless service. But he conceded that the church could not stop the ritual that he described as "popular piety". We must carefully distinguish between what the Church says and what the people do.
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