I’ve struggled lately with the Orthodox vs. the Catholic understanding of Original Sin. From what I understand (and please correct me if I’m wrong), Orthodox Chrstians hold that Adam and Eve’s sin subjected all of creation to the effects of sin, namely death and a tendancy to sin. When we are born, we are born into a world infected by sin and are thus prone to sinfulness ourselves. While we do not inherit the guilt of Adam and Eve, we are subject to their punishment by virtue of our innate spiritual connection with all humans. Furthermore, Mary is “immaculate” in the sense that she chose never to sin. LIke all other humans, she was born without sin, but unlike all others, she successfully withstood the desire to sin for her entire life.
By contrast, as I understand the Catholic perspective, Adam and Eve were born sinless, but following their transgression, all other humans were born in sin. We inherited not only the effects of their sin but the guilt of it as well, and so are “stained” with sin from conception. Mary is “immaculate” because she was saved by her Son prior to her birth, making her the second person since Eve to be born sinless. Unlike Eve, she successfuly resisted sin her entire life, and is often referred to as the “new Eve”.
Honestly, I see some pretty clear distinctions between these two viewpoints, and the Orthodox perspective makes a little more sense to me. Why would we inherit guilt for something we didn’t do? The idea of guilt via the sins of one’s parents is a distinctly Jewish idea, is it not? Can the two perspectives be reconciled? Most importantly, am I uderstanding both sides correctly?