"The loss of joy has many causes, but chief among them is a certain impotence in us, which derives from of our inability to shed the guilt that plagues us, to discharge the debt we bear (whether we know it or not, and we mostly do not) on our hearts, an incapacity that has arisen precisely because we have become too “advanced” in our power and knowledge to know what to do about the hard and immutable truths regarding sin, guilt, and atonement. It is a cruel but common illusion for us to think that joy is our natural state, and automatically results from the banishment of those alien and inhuman concepts of sin and guilt. Something closer to the opposite is true. Sin is the debt that must be paid. Our moral nature demands it. Which is why only the frank and humble acknowledgment of guilt, and a full embrace of the means available for our cleansing of it, can open us to the possibility of joy. That may be the one possibility that our secular age is unprepared, and unwilling, to admit."
Wilfred McClay, "Some Reflections on Joy, Happiness...and Guilt" (2014)