Concupiscence is human nature?

I had always thought it was not human nature but a result of original sin, a corruption. But New Advent’s Catholic Encyclopedia states otherwise (if I’m reading correctly)

“it is plain that the opposition between appetite and reason is natural in man, and that, though it be an imperfection, it is not a corruption of human nature.”
“The first parents were free from concupiscence,… they were to transmit to posterity provided they observed the commandment of God… In our first parents, however, this complete dominion of reason over appetite was no natural perfection or acquirement, but a preternatural gift of God, that is, a gift not due to human nature; nor was it, on the other hand, the essence of their original justice, which consisted in sanctifying grace; it was but a complement added to the latter by the Divine bounty. By the sin of Adam freedom from concupiscence was forfeited not only for himself, but also for all his posterity with the exception of the Blessed Virgin by special privilege. Human nature was deprived of both its preternatural and supernatural gifts and graces,”

If I am reading that correctly, it states that concupiscence is human nature, and the only reason Adam and Eve weren’t in that state (their normal state, concupiscence!) at their origin is because of God’s graces freeing them from it (until they fell). Thus concupiscence… isn’t a product of original sin, but rather the removal of our freedom from concupiscence is the result of original sin.

Good golly, I had no idea. Have I understood this correctly? I’m certain I have, I just am so surprised that I didn’t know this, that I need it to be confirmed for me. But doesn’t that mean our natural state is disordered?

We have the hormones and brain structures to show it. Yep, we’re lecherous nude apes since puberty and just a little less before puberty.

Some people though, are asexual, and I don’t know how that would work. Research is barely starting on what is called the fourth sexual orientation: asexuality, people who don’t feel attraction either way. Not because they’re more in control, but because their natures don’t impel them to.

But yes, biology shows humans are inherently sexual and aggressive, with a propensity to promiscuity in line with similar tendencies in other mammals. At the same time we have an innate desire for monogamy (we want others while at the same time wishing our mate doesn’t get it too) which makes for loads of ensuing drama.

From the Catechism:*CCC#418 As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin (this inclination is called “concupiscence”).*The way the Catholic Encyclopedia article is worded, it seems like the author of that particular entry is distinguishing the unwounded human nature before the Fall as God’s “gift.” I think he means that we did not merit the unfallenness of our own accord. Adam and Eve could not boast of their unfallenness.

As I understand it, concupiscence is part of our human nature as glorified animals; but as human beings, our duty is to overcome our nature.

Everything we do that is a sin is perfectly ok in the animal kingdom.

A dog is not punished for stealing a piece of meat.

A tomcat is not blamed for mating with every female he finds, nor is the mama cat condemned for eating her weakest offspring.

Such behaviors are blameworthy in us, because as human beings we have a supernatural soul (Neshamah) and as such are expected to do better.


Concupiscence is human nature and is not sinful. What is sinful is lust. When we allow our concupiscence to grow to and uncontrollable and an inordinate amount of sexual desire, it becomes lust.

Christ has a human nature (as, unarguably, does his Blessed Mother).

Does he bear concupiscence?


This is a very intriguing question that can not be answered with certainty.

ITASANPM, the correct question would be, “Did he,” because concupiscence would seem to be part of animal survival, which is left behind with the animal body.

The pneumatikon soma has no concupiscence.

But without it, I’m not sure one can be tempted, as Scripture says He was.


Unfortunately concupiscence has come to be primarily identified by just one of it’s fruits…sexual problems. It is a much larger and more difficult problem than that.
From the Catechism:

2514 St. John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.301 In the Catholic catechetical tradition, the ninth commandment forbids carnal concupiscence; the tenth forbids coveting another’s goods.

2515 Etymologically, “concupiscence” can refer to any intense form of human desire. Christian theology has given it a particular meaning: the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of the human reason. The apostle St. Paul identifies it with the rebellion of the “flesh” against the "spirit."302 **Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin. It unsettles man’s moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins.**303

2516 Because man is a composite being, spirit and body, there already exists a certain tension in him; a certain struggle of tendencies between “spirit” and “flesh” develops. But in fact this struggle belongs to the heritage of sin. It is a consequence of sin and at the same time a confirmation of it. It is part of the daily experience of the spiritual battle:

Disobedience. Listening to one’s own will (flesh) instead of reasonably uniting it with God’s. will
God wills to give us everything we need, and tells us in Genesis that if we don’t listen to him who is the source of all good, we choose our own death. Submitting our reason to flesh caused death and has consequences for everyone, not just Adam and Eve.

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.

Eve was tempted, was she not?

Alphabet soup?



Do you mean that our Lord no longer has a human nature, and that it has been shed!?


Well, no, neither Christ nor Mary had concupiscence, because they were filled with abundant graces like Adam and Eve were, so that their human nature was not disordered. This also meshes with our understanding of Christ as the New Adam (and Mary as both the Ark and as the New Eve)

Is my understanding now correct? That our human nature is disordered (as is evident in our biology), and that God did create us that way, but provided Adam and Eve, Jesus and Mary, with a sort of grace that allowed them not to be subject to their own nature? And after Adam and Eve fell, thus all generations afterwards (excepting Jesus and Mary) were subject to their own natural state of disorderliness?

Furthermore, of course we can be tempted without being concupiscent. Were not Adam and Eve both tempted before they fell? The fall, unveiling their true nature as concupiscent, imperfect, disordered creatures, by effect caused us all to be more prone to temptation (intense temptation), but it did not cause us to be subject to it-- we already were!

As was already noted… wasn’t Eve tempted? wasn’t Jesus tempted?

Concupiscence isn’t sinful… it is the tinder for sin.


374 The first man was not only created good, but was also established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation around him, in a state that would be surpassed only by the glory of the new creation in Christ.

375 The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice”.250 This grace of original holiness was “to share in. . .divine life”.251

376 By the radiance of this grace all dimensions of man’s life were confirmed. As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die.252 The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman,253 and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called “original justice”.

377 The “mastery” over the world that God offered man from the beginning was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self. The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence254 that subjugates him to the pleasures of the senses, covetousness for earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason.

378 The sign of man’s familiarity with God is that God places him in the garden.255 There he lives “to till it and keep it”. Work is not yet a burden,256 but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in perfecting the visible creation.

379 This entire harmony of original justice, foreseen for man in God’s plan, will be lost by the sin of our first parents

Paragraph 7. The Fall

Man’s first sin

397 Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of.278 All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.

398 In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Constituted in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully “divinized” by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to “be like God”, but “without God, before God, and not in accordance with God”.279

400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.282 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.283 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.284 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,285 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.286

What Revelation makes known to us is confirmed by our own experience. For when man looks into his own heart he finds that he is drawn towards what is wrong and sunk in many evils which cannot come from his good creator. Often refusing to acknowledge God as his source, man has also upset the relationship which should link him to his last end, and at the same time he has broken the right order that should reign within himself as well as between himself and other men and all creatures.288

The consequences of Adam’s sin for humanity

402 All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: "sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned."289 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. "Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men."290

404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”.293 By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed” - a state and not an act.

405 Although it is proper to each individual,295 original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

For anyone wondering what I’m doing here… currently my goal is to reconcile in my own mind all of these writings. If you don’t see why, please read the New Advent bits that I posted, and the bits that the CCC has posted, and hopefully you will see where my confusion is. It mostly lies in the words
“It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence”

Why do we say “not totally corrupted” and “wounded”, and “proper to it”? If the natural state of man is concupiscence as the New Advent article states “it is plain that the opposition between appetite and reason is natural in man, and that, though it be an imperfection, it is not a corruption of human nature”], and the only reason he was not concupiscent is a gift of God independent of man’s nature, then how is he partially corrupted and wounded? How was dominion of reason over nature “proper to it [human nature]”, which the New Advent article I believe criticizes as Lutheran theology, and clearly states was not proper to human nature?

If I create something with a disordered nature, but at the moment it is created I impart orderliness on it (not as a part of its nature but as a grace), and then take that grace away, in what way has my creature become corrupted or wounded? It has only returned to its natural state that I artificially buoyed with my grace!

Now. It appears, based both on the CCC and the entry on New Advent which appears to have the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur… that:

Man was created whole and good, but not by his own nature. Human nature is afflicted with concupiscence. He was created with complete human nature and with the preternatural gift of reason over appetite, a gift from God that is independent of his human nature.

Choosing, however, to sin, the gift of reason over appetite fled from Adam, and he was left with his natural, concupiscent state. In addition, through the sin, death entered.

Thus the natural state of man is concupiscent, and was only preternaturally graced with orderliness by the gift of God, not the state of being natural.

Of course, she was, which would make no sense if concupiscence was a result of original sin.

If, however, it is an element of animal nature in our human bodies, Eve’s temptation makes total sense.

Alphabet soup?


**In This Average Sinner’s and Non Philosopher’s Mind.


This makes sense to me. God is the unifying whole and the only true good. We are creatures. We have this divided nature. We need God. Only in God’s grace are we made whole and complete and brought to the good. We have rejected it from the start, preferring death in our flesh. (Can I have another Christmas cookie please?:D)

But wait, that’s not the last word.

O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!

O happy fault
that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

Well said. The grace that God gives us can be hard to fathom. It helps me to remember that this grace God gave us in the garden was willfully rejected. And we all participate in that, I think… to some extent.

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