Does the Immaculate Conception contradict Romans 3:23

Romans 3:23 states “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”

Does the immaculate conception (Mary being free from original sin and personal sin) contradict this? How does the Catholic Church see this scripture?

Nope, not at all. See Immaculate Conception and Assumption

Thanks again, that will come in handy.

I’ll use an analogy I heard at that Mass a few years ago. Original Sin is like drowning. If someone falls in the water and starts drowning, you have two ways to save them. You can either pull them out of the water after they’ve already fallen in, or you can prevent them from falling in in the first place. Most of us are justified the first way- by Baptism. But with Mary, God prevented her from falling in- the Immaculate Conception.

So it still fits in with what we hear in Romans. Mary still sinned in that she needed saved from Original Sin. It’s just that because of how God justified her, she was born (and conceived) without sin, allowing her to live a sinless life and be pure enough to carry God-Incarnate in her womb.

It might–if Mary had kept her purity from sin all on her own, through her own efforts. However, the Immaculate Conception dogma teaches that it was through the particular grace of God that Mary was kept pure from all sin, including original sin.

Also, if we take Paul literally here, even Jesus would not be free from sin, which contradicts our belief that Jesus was God. If there is one exception, God can surely make a second, without seriously compromising Paul’s point that we all require God’s grace to be free from sin.

Does “sin” apply to whether a person is “blamesless before the Lord”? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question, but Enoch and Elijah are said to have gone up into Heaven without dying…yet death is the punishment of sin. So it’s reasonable to say they never sinned, isn’t it?
Gen 6:9 (Noah is righteous and blameless before the Lord), Gen 17:1 (God tells Abram to be blameless before Him), Job 1:1, 8, 2:3, ect…(the whole book) (Job was blameless and God said so), Dan 6:22 (Daniel is blameless before the Lord), Lk 1:6 (John the Baptists parents are both blameless and righteous), Rev 14:1-6 (the multitude of 144,000 is blamesless).

If being “blameless before the Lord” suggests that the person did not commit personal sin, then it appears that there are several exceptions (that Paul would have known about when he wrote his letter to the Romans) and this was a general statement in Rom 3:23.

Short response: We don’t know about Enoch and Elijah. God could have forgiven them, or purified them of sin at some point in life. We do have the example of John the Baptist, who was purified at the visitation when he “leapt in Elizabeth’s womb” at the coming of Mary bearing Jesus. Catholic doctrine is that he was sinless from that point on–hence he is one of three births we celebrate (John, on June 24, Mary on September 8, and Jesus on December 25). Could God have preserved them from death? Did they die at some point, like Mary’s Assumption? It’s never been defined.

Romans 3:23 is a quote of Psalm 14, as well as a number of other OT passages. Here’s Psalm 14:

  1. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Their deeds are loathsome and corrupt; not one does what is good.
  2. The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if even one is wise, if even one seeks God.
  3. All have gone astray; all alike are perverse. Not one does what is good, not even one.
  4. Will these evildoers never learn? They devour my people as they devour bread; they do not call upon the LORD.
  5. They have good reason, then, to fear; God is with the company of the just.
  6. They would crush the hopes of the poor, but the poor have the LORD as their refuge.
  7. Oh, that from Zion might come the salvation of Israel! Jacob would rejoice, and Israel be glad when the LORD restores his people!
    The beginning of the Psalm refers to fools: the [FONT=Arial]fool’s deeds are loathsome, no fool does what is good, fools have gone astray, fools are perverse, etc. Then, starting in v. 5, the psalmist contrasts them with those who are not fools, who are not in the group of people being talked about in verses 1-4.[/FONT]

If you look at the other OT passages that repeat this theme (found in the Psalms and Prophets) you’ll find the same thing. The “all” in “all have sinned” always refers to “the foolish and the wicked”; it does NOT refer to “every person without exception”.

So if someone says that that verse proves that Mary sinned, they have to be saying that she was a wicked fool. Clearly, she was not.

And it’s clear that, even aside from Mary, not all have sinned even today: infants cannot sin. A mental infirmity can render someone [FONT=Arial]incapable of sinning.[/FONT]

Part of the problem is with the idea that “all” can mean only “every single instance without exception”, but that’s not how the word is used either in Sacred Scripture or in everyday speech. For example, in Matthew 13:32, Jesus says that the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds. However, there are many seeds that are a LOT smaller than mustard seed, even in the Middle East. The mustard was the smallest among [FONT=Arial]those that were planted for food.[/FONT]

There are any number of other places in the Scriptures where you can find this kind of thing: “all” does not necessarily mean “every single instance without exception”.

Since all that is created was created through the Word (pre-incarnate Jesus) what you are asking in essence is: Did Jesus knowingly conceive of and create His own mother to be a sinful soul? Did He choose to be conceived in a sinful womb, nourished by sinful blood and to nurse at sinful breasts before being raised by a sinful woman? Only perfect flesh could redeem imperfect flesh. Only pure blood could be shed to redeem the impure. Jesus took both flesh and blood from Mary. This is worth pondering.

St. Paul’s intention in writng those words was to make it clear that both Jews and Gentiles are equally sinners in God’s eyes. He was not discussing Mary or exceptions to this, but rather he simply wished to make it clear that the Jews had no more claim to holiness than the Gentiles in the eyes of God. It’s as simple as that. :slight_smile:

And Razanir, Mary did not sin nor was she ever stained with original sin. That’s what the Immaculate Conception means–that she never had any taint of sin of any kind. She was conceived without the blemish of original sin on her soul because God saved her from it by his grace since she was to be the Mother of the Lord.

Right. That point I was trying to make is that instead of saving her from it my letting her be born with Original Sin and be baptized, God just prevented her from ever being stained with Original Sin in the first place.

So back to my lake analogy. Suppose you saw someone at risk of falling in. You can either pull them out once they’ve fallen in, or you can stop them from ever falling in. And if you prevented them from falling in, you can’t say they fell in. God prevented Mary from ever being stained with Original Sin, and thus she technically never needed saved from it.

I get into ecumenical debates a lot. I’ve gotten really good at explaining things from a different angle and (what I think are) theologically correct analogies.

Thanks Neophyte.
Good job.

For more, showing that even Protestant Dictionaries show that All does not necessarily mean no exceptions see

** MARY AND ROMANS 3: 23**

[LIST]Does Romans 3: 23 “all have sinned” mean that Mary must have sinned ? No.
**.
**
[/LIST]

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.