How do you prove sin?

I was speaking with someone recently about sin. She (a cradle Catholic and deeply spiritual) has recently been reading books that I find highly questionable. I read one she recommended in which the author totally discounts the concept of original sin. DF has apparently bought into this idea. I asked her if original sin didn’t exist then why did Jesus come to save us. She said Jesus came to show us how to live in relationship with each other, and that sin is a “failure to live up to the mark”. I said the Bible is full of sin, which she more or less pooh-poohed and said there were newer interpretations of the Bible where sin isn’t emphasized so much. If I had been more on the ball I would have said that yes, Jesus did come to show us how to live with each other but if that was the extent of it He wouldn’t have had to suffer and die on the cross. (Of course I thought of that too late.) Since this conversation, I’ve been looking at different writings about sin but they all assume sin, it’s a given. How do you prove that sin indeed exists? What can I suggest for reading material to get her to re-think her position? I’m really afraid for her.

She believes there is no original sin? Hat the only sin is a failure to ‘live up to the mark’ in terms of failing to live in peace, etc. with each other & that Jesus had to come to show humanity how to live properly…? Is it not possible, then, that one of the devastating effects of original sin is the predisposition to liv in such a way that discord occurs between humanity? Im still learning & trying to understand myself, so perhaps my logic/questions are incorrect? Praying for your friend.

Well, ask her if she ever desired something that doesn’t belong to her? It will be sin. Or if she ever disrespect her parent’s request, or if she ever feel jealous of others?

But best is pray for her I think if she’s hard to change her mind.

I would say so but she wouldn’t.

Praying for your friend.

Thank you.

She would say that those were defects of character that should be worked on to become a better person, but she wouldn’t think of them as sins. I appreciate your prayers.

sin 1 (sn)

  1. A transgression of a religious or moral law, especially when deliberate.

  2. Theology
    a. Deliberate disobedience to the known will of God.

b. A condition of estrangement from God resulting from such disobedience.

  1. Something regarded as being shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong.

intr.v.sinned, sin·ning, sins

  1. To violate a religious or moral law.

  2. To commit an offense or violation.

I find your post interesting as like your friend I (and probably others) do struggle with the teaching of O.S. To me sin is to harm another human, and oneself.

You’re not asking if SIN exists, but that ORIGINAL Sin exists…right?
Assuming that, it’s pretty easy if you simply define what Original Sin is…the propensity that all humans have to sin.
If we didn’t have original sin, we would be perfect. I doubt she’d argue that anyone is. (If she does you have much reason to fear for her).
And if we were perfect, there would be no sin of any kind. That’s pretty much not the case.

I understand your fear for your friend, who is rejecting the teachings of the Church and the basis of Christian faith.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an excellent source (it has a compendium version which is shorter) but I would suggest going online and printing the relevant sections ( Para 397 is a good starting point.

I am refraining from commenting on the belief that the Bible is an interpretation as opposed to the Word of God. It seems that she must be getting mixed up with a strange cult.

One critical factor (which you already know) is to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance whenever you speak to the delicate soul of your friend.

I know this will not give you a full response, but I pray that through God’s grace He will provide through all the responses to your question.
Praying for you both.

There is another spirit that knows also that DF is deeply spiritual. That is the evil one, and he is leading her astray - into the “Jesus as wise teacher” and new age realm. Oh, it is all very spiritual, but that spirit is not from heaven. The evil one won’t have any talk of sin, because the acknowledgement of sin can lead to repentance, and the evil one loses each time that occurs. She needs prayer, perhaps for an extended time. Before our Lord int he Blessed Sacrament is the best place to pray for such intentions.

From what I’ve read in the book DF recommended (“Roots And Wings” by Margaret Silf) sin is not recognized at all. To give you an example (these concepts were built up over several chapters): The author talks about God as if she believes in him as creator. But then suggests that instead of punishment, what happened to Adam and Eve was simply a progression or advancement in their humanness. Eve has more pain in child birth because humans are now walking upright, which causes more pain than earlier hominids. Adam “progressed” to having to work hard because he is now capable of making choices. To be fully human is something we have to work at. The serpent nudged us to the next stage in becoming more fully human. Since it’s progress to becoming more fully human, not punishment (she suggests), we don’t need a saviour, we need a model. She didn’t say it but I’m guessing she’s leading up to saying Jesus is that model. I haven’t read any further because frankly it took my breath away.

I think DF thinks that talking about sin is a way of shaming people instead of recognizing the good in them. They’re just doing the best they can and don’t need fingers pointed at them. And I think she believe God looks at it that way too. She no longer goes to confession because she just talks to God about stuff she needs to “work on”.

Thank you for that suggestion Avila

I am refraining from commenting on the belief that the Bible is an interpretation as opposed to the Word of God. It seems that she must be getting mixed up with a strange cult.

I didn’t realize how strange because they are a group of Catholic nuns who hold different spiritual workshops. They’ve been doing it for decades and DF has been actively involved for many years. The courses they offer don’t appeal to me so I haven’t gone. I’ve known some of these nuns for most of my life (this is a small community) and they always seemed like good Catholics to me. I’m only just starting to realize how far astray they’ve gone from the teachings of the Catholic Church, and they’re taking a lot of good people in the community with them, including my DF.

I know this will not give you a full response, but I pray that through God’s grace He will provide through all the responses to your question.
Praying for you both.

Thank you.

You’re right and I will be praying for her.

“If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and the truth is not in us” - 1 John 1:10

I should think that scripture is plain enough.

I suppose Our Lord was doing wrong and needlessly shaming the woman caught in adultery when He told her to go and sin no more? Or those wanting to stone her when He told them to consider their own sins rather than being so eager to punish her? Or the scribes and Pharisees when he called them vipers and whites sepulchres? Or the traders in the Temple when He drove them out?

Or when He told us "when your brother sins, rebuke him’? (Matthew 18:15)

He did not shrink from condemning or rebuking sin, and bid us to do so too, although in a more private and quiet way where possible.

Original sin is Adam and Eve’s actual sin, not our actual sin, it is analogical sin. What we inherit is the stain (reatus) of original sin through which we are predisposed to commit actual sins. It did need remediation by Our Lord and does require our baptism to overcome it. Imputation of guilt to another does not use the word culpa (the moral sense) but reatus (the legal sense).

Catechism of the Catholic Church
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.

Hmm. Sounds like a contrivance to justify a “Jesus and Me” approach…akin to “I am spiritual but not religious”.
Which lets the person conveniently rationalize pretty much anything they want to do.
Screwtape would like this book, eh!

As for ‘not needing a savior but rather a model’ for becoming “more human”, that’s a bit baffling. I thought Jesus, if a model, would help us become less prone to human foibles (subject to temptations…which are the root of…original sin !).


Either sin is real or it’s not. Either objective morality exists as a truth of Gods design for man, or all morality is relative; rape, murdrer and torture are natural, not immoral, and God created man to behave that way. The reason that it’s even possible to “miss the mark”, is because a “mark” exists, a standard for what constitutes morality for man. And the reason that man can miss the mark is because he places the mark where he wants it-this is what Original Sin consists of: man playing God, determining morality for himself. God indwells man when man is not distanced from His authority-and with this relationship sin is excluded. To the extent that we act on our own “authority”, we easily fall into sin. Separation from God (apart from Whom we can do nothing) is a chief aspect of OS according to the Catechism.

I feel for you. Trying to prove the existence of sin to a cradle Catholic shouldn’t be difficult.

I fear the next thing she won’t believe in is God. We’ll say a prayer for her.

Thank you for your prayers.

I’m glad to say she still prays, she still says her rosary, at least the Divine Chaplet. Although how she reconciles the phrase “in atonement for our sins” with her beliefs I don’t know. Maybe she doesn’t say it at all. I’m praying for her, that something or someone will get through her self-delusion. I don’t know how to talk to her without getting her defences up, and that would do no good whatsoever.

It’s especially devastating for me because this is someone who was a spiritual role model for me all my life. Now she seems to have gone off the rails somehow and doesn’t seem to realize it. She thinks she’s on a journey to becoming more “human” and the whole concept of sin just gets in the way. She thinks speaking in terms of “sin” is shaming and blaming, instead of an acknowledgement of our human condition. We don’t need forgiveness, we need to realize we’re becoming more “evolved” as human beings – whatever that mans!

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