Before original sin, Adam and Eve sinned....how?


#1

I have a suspicion this is a very common question and, for whatever reason, it just never occured to me before.

I heard this question referenced at the tail end of a call to Catholic Answers.

The basic premise of the question is; Original sin is where we get our propensity to sin (maybe this is where I am wrong). If this is so, and Adam and Eve was not created with original sin, this would imply they effectively could not sin. Yet, of course, they did. How were they able to be subject to temptation if they were created without original sin?

This would imply our willingness to sin does not come from our fallen nature. If so, then just exactly what is the ramification of original sin?

Seems like a chicken and egg thing.


#2

Yes, they were of course created without original sin. That does not imply that they could not sin (they had free will). Because they had free will. they chose to disobey God and therefore sinned. This was and is the original sin which has been passed on to every living soul.


#3

Where I am confused is in that I thought the fact that I had original sin, is what gives me the propensity (or makes me subject to) sin. I was under the impression that through original sin, I receive my fallen nature. Without this fallen nature, I’d not be subject to succum to temptation.

Possibly not unlike the souls in Heaven. They still retain thier free will, but will not, sin. :confused:


#4

Here is the teaching of the Church:

Adam and Eve were created perfect by God and placed by him in a garden – Paradise, if you will. The Church teaches that they were real people. This garden was not heaven, but a paradise where they were protected from harm and had everything they needed. They had all the natural gifts man could have, **plus preternatural gifts given them by God. These preternatural gifts enabled them, unlike us, to have complete control over their wills, intellect and emotions. **Under God’s special protection, they need never have sinned, or become sick or even die, God’s plan being to take them to himself in heaven when their lives were through. Adam was thus the perfect representative of us all, possessing every advantage.

There was a test involved, however, which we all know they failed. In this test they were representing all of mankind as it’s perfect representatives. None of us imperfect men facing this test, left to our own devices, would have stood a chance. It was a test of their free wills, without which no one can truly love anyone else, including God. **As a result of this failure, man lost paradise and all the preternatural gifts (which resulted in what we call “original sin”). **Since that time each man has compounded this failure by personal sin upon sin, thus making him incapable of meriting heaven.

Thanks be to God who, in his mercy, sent us a Saviour, Jesus Christ, who through his sacrifice on the Cross reversed Adam’s failure, paid for our sins and made is possible for us, through faith and baptism, to be restored to fellowship with God.

Baptism takes away all our sin (both Original and, if we are adults, any actual sins commited up to that time) so that we no longer are enslaved to sin. We are given Sanctifying Grace, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the three Theological Virtues. However there remains a type of wound called *concupiscense * (what Protestants call the sin nature) that still *inclines *us to sin. That, plus external temptation, plus our free will is what make it possible for us to sin.

Through faith and our obedience in God’s grace, however, we can strive to resist sin, cultivate virtue, and thus one day be with God in heaven as was his plan all along.

Hope that helps. :slight_smile:


#5

Yes, it does help, and thank you. However a few questions remain.

“These preternatural gifts enabled them, unlike us, to have complete control over their wills, intellect and emotions”

How does this differ from our “free will”?

“In this test they were representing all of mankind as it’s perfect representatives.”

I guess I do not understand how they were “perfect representatives”.

What I appear to be having difficulty with is in how Adam and Eve were different then us. The concept of the “fruit”, is not to be taken (or may not be taken) literally. The premise to be received is that Eve and subsequently Adam, succumbed to thier pride. They wanted to be thier own God. This is the root of all of our sin. Thier sin sounds like our sin. They were imperfect, not perfect.

Is it thier guilt that was passed down to us? Is original sin a (seemingly) unjust death sentance? (asked from a perspective of ignorance I am sure)


#6

Right. OP, remember too all the angels who rebelled against God. They were born without original sin.


#7

Our free will is warped by our propensity to sin. We each struggle with sin; our propensity toward it warps our will to refrain from it. In this sense, Adam and Eve were freer than we are.

“In this test they were representing all of mankind as it’s perfect representatives.”

I guess I do not understand how they were “perfect representatives”.

Their wills were not warped by sin, they had direct knowledge of God and His will. Before the Fall, they were truly the best of us. That is what makes the Fall so tragic.

What I appear to be having difficulty with is in how Adam and Eve were different then us. The concept of the “fruit”, is not to be taken (or may not be taken) literally. The premise to be received is that Eve and subsequently Adam, succumbed to thier pride. They wanted to be thier own God. This is the root of all of our sin. Thier sin sounds like our sin. They were imperfect, not perfect.

They were perfect in the sense that they had every innate advantage toward righteousness. They freely chose sin.

Think of Lucifer’s fall. Did Lucifer not represent angelic perfection? And yet the tragedy of Lucifer is pride as well. Pride goeth before the fall is a well-known truism for this reason.

Is it thier guilt that was passed down to us? Is original sin a (seemingly) unjust death sentance? (asked from a perspective of ignorance I am sure)

No, it is the separation from God that has been passed down to us. In some ways this is similar to being children of a divorced couple.


#8

Yes.

Adam and Eve had perfect control over the desires we struggle so deeply with now. PERFECT control over will, intellect and emotion. As an aside, Mary (and Jesus of course) was bestowed with the same gift.

Indeed, all the more tragic the biblical account of Original Sin becomes when Adam and Eve are seen to have this perfection. They truly perfectly knew better- yet THEIR will dominated that of God. They had to defy the perfection within their natures to make their will dominate the Will they knew of God.

That prideful and willful defiance created tore at the very fabric of God’s design and seperated Creation from the Creator by man’s own WILL. Mankind could not hope to keep the gifts of God with such selfishness as the rift created between God and man was that awful.

Through the perfect acceptance of God’s WILL by Christ and Mary, is mankind able to be reunited in eternity with it’s Creator.


#9

Don’t forget they had a little help from Satan in exercising their ability to abuse their free will.

i.e. Without his prodding would the couple free from original sin have sinned?

Of course that only pushes the problem from Adam and Eve to Satan.

How / why would an angel having “seen” God chose to rebel against him.

The answer seems to come down to “pride” and “free will” but its beyond my ability to grasp.

Maybe he was a little jealous of the love God showed to us humans?

Chuck


#10

The preternatural gifts were special graces given to Adam and Eve by God over and above their natural gifts. These gifts gave them complete control over their emotions, will and intellect.

Our free will is weak compared to theirs because of our concupisense, a result of original sin. Original sin, rather than something that was done to us, *is actually a lack of something *-- a lack of these preternatural graces that Adam and Eve had. So even though our lot has improved through baptism and the gift of Sanctifying Grace, we are still not as perfect as Adam and Eve were --yet. This is why we are to strive for the holiness without which no one will see God (Hebrews 12:14). When we do see God in heaven, we will be completely perfected.

**“In this test they were representing all of mankind as it’s perfect representatives.” **

I guess I do not understand how they were “perfect representatives”.

They were perfect representatives for us because (before Jesus and Mary) only they possessed those gifts that gave them perfect and complete control over their emotions, will and intellect. If anyone could have passed the temptation in the garden, they would have.


#11

Very well said.

I think Milton comes closest with his description of the Fall in “Paradise Lost”; his Adam and Eve are by no means purely innocent before the Fall, but their coarseness after it is obvious. Milton hints that the seeds of the Fall were already present in Adam and Eve in their pride and vanity; Satan simply played upon these aspects of their character.

Milton, Puritan that he was, is hardly authoritative in this, but I think his evocation of what Adam and Eve may have been like before and after the Fall is striking.


closed #12

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