Is it fair for God to punish all of humanity due to two people's sins?

Hi everyone. I am having a major doubt right now. I am doubting that God is indeed loving. I am doubting this because why would God punish all of humanity for two people’s sins? This is something I have never really understood. Please help me. :frowning:

The way I like to look at it is this. Adam and Eve were granted an extraordinary number of gifts from God. Graces, life in the garden, etc. However, by their sins they lost these gifts, gifts that were to be our inheritance.

Someone posted here recently an analogy that I think it fitting. Imagine someone gave your grandfather a large amount of money. Should he keep this money, it would be your inheritance. However, your grandfather goes and gambles away that money, losing that which you should have inherited.

Luckily, we have Christ to restore our inheritance to us.

Oh ok. I’m still having trouble understanding though. I’m sorry. :blush:

Firstly,*** God ***doesn’t punish anyone for anything - people (including Adam and Eve) choose to punish themselves by wilfully separating themselves from Him (aka sinning).

We all know people who do things that they know are bad for them - smoke, drink, abuse illegal drugs, eat junk and so on. Is it not fair that these people experience the consequences of their actions? Is it not true, like it or not, that others around them will also suffer?

Yes, you are right. I never really thought of it like that. Thank you Lily.

God also died for the very sins that separated us from Him to be forgiven.

(I wish I could remember where I read this, because the author said it better than I can.) If you think that something is not fair, that means you must have an idea of what is really fair. We know that as humans we are too limited to have invented a perfect ideal of what is truly fair. Our idea of what is really fair can only come from Someone Who is perfect- God. We cannot reasonably take the idea of fairness from the perfection of God and then say that we know better than He does how it works. In other words, if God does it, it IS fair. However, our understanding might not be quite right. As some people have already mentioned, it might be more clear to think that we suffer just as a result of Adam’s sin, rather than us getting punished for Adam’s sin.

Ah ok. Thank you! :thumbsup:

Everyone wonders about the purposes of God. He makes such beauty as to tear you up, and He can wreck it just as easily. But He is not a petulant artist, and He is not unloving or unfair.
It is my understanding that many profound understandings can come from the Genesis story, if we are not too literal. Adam became resigned to his human nature, and that was wrong, having been created in the image of God. So we are tested inthe world.

‘Had the world been of any worth in His sight, He surely would never have allowed His enemies to possess it, even to the extent of a grain of mustard seed. He hath, however, caused you to be entangled with its affairs, in return for what your hands have wrought in His Cause.’ (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 209)

All sin comes from the demands of nature, and these demands, which arise from the physical qualities, are not sins with respect to the animals, while for man they are sin. The animal is the source of imperfections, such as anger, sensuality, jealousy, avarice, cruelty, pride: all these defects are found in animals but do not constitute sins. But in man they are sins. (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 119)

Adam was not forbidden the Tree of Life, but once he partook of the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil (which is our human condition) he and anyone like him must suffer on the checker board of good and evil, instead of pure good. Then the Kerubím protected the Tree of Life, and it re-appears in Revelation. That is why it is said:

The physical nature is inherited from Adam, and the spiritual nature is inherited from the Reality of the Word of God, which is the spirituality of Christ. The physical nature is born of Adam, but the spiritual nature is born from the bounty of the Holy Spirit. The first is the source of all imperfection; the second is the source of all perfection. (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 118)

It is not the historical Adam that causes us to sin, but our own human nature inherited from him. We all fall, and therefore need lifted up; we all become prodigal and need welcomed home.

There is also the question of the other Holy Ones. “If Adam was a sinner, what is the sin of Abraham? What is the fault of Isaac, or of Joseph? Of what is Moses guilty?” (SAQ p. 120)

We can say Moses committed murder. But he confessed and asked forgiveness for that, and God did forgive Him, and raised Him up to such a level as Prophethood, in which He needed to cover His face when He returned from His conversations with the I AM. God could have prevented murder from being part of His life, so I see it as one of the undiscussed miracles of that Dispensation.

It is true that humanity suffers so much for sins they never commited–but I think Jesus has more than repaired the harm that Adam and Eve did. Our first parents are Adam and Eve, but when they sinned, the Father had to send us new parents, and these are Jesus and Mary!

Have you ever been to the Easter Vigil Mass? There is a line from this really long canticle that says, “Oh happy fault, which brought about the redemption!”

I believe that God allowing the fall and then redeeming us is so much better than Original Justice, especially since now we can suffer for Jesus.

I’m reading a book called Theology for Beginners, by Frank Sheed. I think it was in his book where he said that Adam was like a representative for us. The angels sinned, but they weren’t all then fallen, because they aren’t a race and a species like we are, all related to one another (Sheed 78). Therefore, when Adam sinned, it separated our entire race from God, not only the individual, Adam.

We are lucky though, in that we have many many chances. The angels only had one chance to pass or to fail the test, and those who failed have rejected God eternally, because of the superior knowledge all the angels have (76).

Bibliography

Sheed, Francis J. Theology for Beginners. 3rd ed. Saint Anthony Messenger Press & Franciscan Communications, 1982. Print.

Ah ok. Thanks! :slight_smile:

I’ve thought of this question too….

But god is the one dealing out the punishment and he not only punished Adam and Eve by sending them out of the garden, he also punished them with eventual death….but to let that punishment carry over into all generations is not really loving…don’t you say?
I understand that in your doctrine sin and death entered the world through Adam and Eve, but if, by your teachings, god created the earth and Adam and Eve, then he has the power to punish as he sees fit. He punished them in the most ruthless way imaginable…and also all their offspring.
The teaching sounds like this:

God created everything, but when it’s time for punishment comes, he is all but powerless punish only the persons in question because there are “Rules” that need to be followed. Wouldn’t an all loving god have the power not to punish all his subsequent creations for the first two’s first error? The punishment doesn’t fit the crime…not by a long shot…but when we do read further on that he is a jealous god and is quick to anger against disobedience and requires absolute loyalty, so maybe it does make sense…

If my son is disobedient to a command I’d given him, he’d get a time out or a grounding, but I’m not going to lay down a objective law of nature that will affect all his offspring…
It doesn’t make sense…

We all know people who do things that they know are bad for them - smoke, drink, abuse illegal drugs, eat junk and so on. Is it not fair that these people experience the consequences of their actions? Is it not true, like it or not, that others around them will also suffer?

There was no one else around them…it was just them. God directly chose to have all their offspring suffer for their sins but pain and death.

It’s illogical.

Anyway, just my 2 censts….

It is not the historical Adam that causes us to sin, but our own human nature inherited from him.

God hath never burdened any soul beyond its power. Thus hath it been sent down unto the Prophets and Messengers of old, and been recorded in all the Scriptures…
He will never deal unjustly with any one, neither will He task a soul beyond its power. He, verily, is the Compassionate, the All-Merciful.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 105-6)

And according to the faith, the reason we inherited this nature from him was directly due to the punishment he received from god. It still goes to my point…

Grace & Peace!

Holly, I think there are a number of ways of looking at the Adam/Eve story. Here are just two that may address your concerns:

1–We are not punished by God. Sin is its own punishment, as many of the fathers and mystics tell us. Why? Because it is the breaking of relationship. The sin of Adam and Eve separated them and the rest of creation from their original nature, wounding (though not destroying) that original nature. The punishment God announces to them in Genesis is not so much something God did to them, or to us, but an enumeration of the consequences they had incurred because they broke relationship with God. Subsequently, we are born into a broken world and suffer the consequences thereof, chief amongst which is death. As Charles Williams writes, and I paraphrase, Adam and Eve got exactly what they wanted. That they did not like what they got does not mean that they did not want it. Their punishment, and ours when we sin, is to live with the horrible burden of having gotten exactly what we wanted. In the Anglican prayer of confession at Mass, we pray, “We are heartily sorry for these our misdoings. The remembrance of them is grievous unto us. The burden of them is intolerable.” Sin is its own burden. But thank God for the Sacraments!

2–Like many myths, the story of Adam and Eve is not about two folks that lived a long time ago and did something wrong. It is a story that addresses a fundamental characteristic of human nature generally–that we fall. As such, the story speaks deeply to what it is to be human, to the process of how our humanity is lived out, to to the ways in which we break relationship, to the movement from innocence to experience. The story is, in fact, about us. About all of us. Both generally and individually.

I don’t know if this is particularly helpful to you, but there are many different ways of looking at this story!

Under the Mercy,
Mark

All is grace and mercy! Deo gratias!

[size=3][FONT=Times New Roman]But god is the one dealing out the punishment and he not only punished Adam and Eve by sending them out of the garden, he also punished them with eventual death….but to let that punishment carry over into all generations is not really loving…don’t you say?[/size]
I understand that in your doctrine sin and death entered the world through Adam and Eve, but if, by your teachings, god created the earth and Adam and Eve, then he has the power to punish as he sees fit. He punished them in the most ruthless way imaginable…and also all their offspring.
The teaching sounds like this:

God created everything, but when it’s time for punishment comes, he is all but powerless punish only the persons in question because there are “Rules” that need to be followed. Wouldn’t an all loving god have the power not to punish all his subsequent creations for the first two’s first error? The punishment doesn’t fit the crime…not by a long shot…but when we do read further on that he is a jealous god and is quick to anger against disobedience and requires absolute loyalty, so maybe it does make sense…

If my son is disobedient to a command I’d given him, he’d get a time out or a grounding, but I’m not going to lay down a objective law of nature that will affect all his offspring…
It doesn’t make sense…

There was no one else around them…it was just them. God directly chose to have all their offspring suffer for their sins but pain and death.

It’s illogical.
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There are aspects overlooked in this response that should be considered. Man (Adam and Eve included) had always possessed the freedom to choose. God banished Adam and Eve from the garden because they had chosen to accept the word of satan and satisfied temptation over the word of God and by so doing gained the knowledge of not only good, but also what was evil. This is not to say they learned what evil means, but rather that which evil consists of. We recognize those things considered evil can be very tempting and humanly rewarding, fueling the weaknesses we become aware of throughout time. The banishment was to restrict them from the fruit of the tree of life, perhaps because as we gain experience through time we gain in additional knowledge and capability. Imagine what a person could be capable of gaining accumulated (unlimited) knowledge of what is evil while seeking self pleasure if possessing eternal human life.
Genesis CH3; 22 Then the LORD God said: “See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad! Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever.”
God’s punishment, which was to be passed on to all offspring, could be better understood if we consider all their offspring would also have the knowledge of good AND evil along with the choice between the two. Death itself is of the flesh but not of the soul and God did not condemn them to eternal punishment, but rather mortal punishment.

God holds the power over all and knows the beauty in what He offers us eternally.
As any Father, He corrects His children, with love, he offers an eternal life.

If I as a parent break the civil law, my children feel the effects of my crime - they lose a parent to jail or lose family income through fines.

There are aspects overlooked in this response that should be considered. Man (Adam and Eve included) had always possessed the freedom to choose. God banished Adam and Eve from the garden because they had chosen to accept the word of satan and satisfied temptation over the word of God and by so doing gained the knowledge of not only good, but also what was evil. This is not to say they learned what evil means, but rather that which evil consists of. We recognize those things considered evil can be very tempting and humanly rewarding, fueling the weaknesses we become aware of throughout time. The banishment was to restrict them from the fruit of the tree of life, perhaps because as we gain experience through time we gain in additional knowledge and capability. Imagine what a person could be capable of gaining accumulated (unlimited) knowledge of what is evil while seeking self pleasure if possessing eternal human life.

Yes, that covers the banishment part of the punishment…but how come he went that one step… it’s quite a few steps further, actually, by punishing them with death….then he also went quite a few more steps further and punished all their offspring with death…
The crime doesn’t even REMOTELY fit the punishment…essentially the doctrine teaches us that we are even now suffering for Adam and Eve’s sins (Even thought whether or not they were real, actual people is even debatable by the church, since they are not sure if Genesis was an account of actual events or not…) and furthermore, that we should be happy and love the one that punished us for two **fictional people’s **wrong doing…see how illogical that is?

Does the judge who punished you for the deeds you committed also sentence your children to death and write a law that every generation of your offspring should be killed?

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