Is Original Sin a mortal or venial sin? Or is it something else?
“Original sin may be taken to mean: (1) the sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam.”
Check out Part One of my slideshow:
It is the propensity to sin. Not actual sin.
Altho there is a deprivation of sanctifying grace in both original sin and mortal sin,
(below & CCC #1266 vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P3N.HTM#76) (CCC #1861 vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P6C.HTM#DT ),
the term “mortal sin” generally refers to sinful acts we personally commit and for which we are personally guilty.
(The terms “mortal” and “venial” are classifications assigned to sinful acts we personally commit.)
As noted in the CCC405 quote below, original sin does not refer to a personal sin.
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”. 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.** 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, 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.
vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P1C.HTM#YY The “life of Christ’s grace” is a reference to what is referred to as “sanctifying grace”
Original sin refers to the first sin of the human race which was committed by our first parents, Adam and Eve, in the garden of Eden as it is recorded in Genesis. It was a personal sin for Adam and Eve and it was a mortal sin as shown in Genesis by their being kicked out of the Garden of Eden where they had an intimate relationship with God through sanctifying grace which they lost and then being subject to death. The death of the body was a sign of the spiritual death of the soul.
This sin of our first parents and its consequences are passed on to all their descendants which are all other human beings by propagation. Original sin in all Adam and Eve’s descendants is a contracted sin, we inherit it from Adam and Eve. It does not have the character of a personal fault in us. The CCC says original sin in us is a state and not an act we personally commited though we are all implicated in Adam and Eve’s sin since we are their descendants. Original sin is fundamentally the loss of original holiness and justice and sanctifying grace.
While the propensity to sin is one of the results of Original Sin, Original Sin itself was a real disobedient act committed by the first human, Adam.
Adam committed mortal sin, but for his descendents it is analogical (contracted) sin.
Here is the Catechism definition of “mortal sin” 1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”
vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P6C.HTM#MThis definition shows that:
a) for Adam it was a mortal sin since all 3 conditions were met,
b) for all Adam’s descendents (with the exception of Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin), who from the moment they are conceived are in the state of original sin, those 3 conditions are NOT met and so for them/us it cannot be calld a mortal sin.
Adam’s sin was a mortal sin, resulting in the “death of the soul”, as Trent put it. All humans are born in this condition as a result, spiritually dead, cut off from their Creator, which is why we must be born again or born from above. We can sin mortally as well after being birthed into the kingdom by baptism, forfeiting our place there, losing sanctifying grace again, sort of reconfirming Adam’s rebellion.
I, myself, was thinking about starting this thread, when I saw that BorninMarch had already done so. Thanks for that.
Peace be with you Brothers/sisters.
For those of you who have posted answers, I ask this.
The Severity of this Original sin must have been far greater than the murder committed by Cain, by killing his brother, as this sin (or murder) is not considered the original sin.
Am I right in this train of thought? This is a question I have had for two decades. I appreciate any constructive input.
The catechism teaches that all other sin follows from this first act of disobedience. Scorning God’s authority resulted in making human morality relative, relative to whatever man thought was right in his own eyes. This initial breaking away from God, from the law governing our own natures-meant the door was now open for any and all possible human behavior. Jesus came to close this door, to heal this wound, to reconcile man with God again, apparently after humanity had opportunity to taste of good and evil itself, both of which which we experience-or know -everyday in this life, so we can learn to run, like the Prodigal, from the pigsty back to the sheer goodness known as God, sort of reversing Adam’s decision within ourselves, each at a time.
Baptism remits original sin and infuses sanctifying grace in the human soul. Without sanctifying grace one cannot be in union with God. That is why the Church teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation. Baptism restores us to the supernatural divine life that Adam and Eve enjoyed before the fall. So, to call original sin a mortal sin may not be correct definitively, original sin is a void in our union with God. God in His infinite love and mercy can see the baptism of blood and the baptism of desire as other ways to remove original sin. However, if one should die in the state of original sin they would be held in the mercy of God and not for us to judge. What type of sin is original sin? It’s its own type that holds its own definition and defines our eternity either through our intention or through God’s merciful final judgment.
I’d only suggest here that mortal sin is also a void in our union with God, with sanctifying grace forfeited in either case. Both OS & MS require repentance, with MS requiring confession/reconciliation as well before union is restored, before communion can be experienced again. I think mortal sin represents a turning away from God and charity- again-much the same in that sense as Adam did originally. Just some thoughts. Maybe wrong.
I’m inclined to this view, since an unbaptized baby, we understand, if it dies, does not go to hell or purgatory.
I realize the following is a bit far out, and I have no pretense to being a theologian.
But I have wondered whether Adam and Eve were created (whether by miracle or evolution, and I don’t think it matters which) with the latent ability to accept Divine Providence fully or to become willful and reject it. Is it possible that Eden was more a state of being than a particular place? Cattle fully accept Providence as it applies to them.They don’t rebel against their true natures. We do. Were Adam and Eve perhaps the same way? Might it have been cold at times, hot at times? Were thorns still hurtful to the fingers, were sharp stones still hurtful to the feet? But did they simply accept those things as God’s will for them and, accepting Providence fully as some saints seem to have done, were those things acceptable? Were they in Paradise, not because there were no thorns or copperheads, but because they accepted it all? Even death? Was there no death because they saw no change between this life and the next even if there was bodily death? Some saints have thought of death that way; without the slightest dread, even with longing.
But were they, uniquely, capable of rebelling; of “knowing good and evil” (deciding for themselves what was good and what was not). And acting on it might have been a Rubicon not only of the spirit but of the mind. Did it open and actuate a latent function that was always there but seemed not to be there because never used until it was? We see that sort of thing sometimes. We are all capable of becoming drug addicts. It’s a function of both brain chemistry, physical attributes of receptors, and thought when we use them. And that latent potential of being addicts, once opened, never really closes fully again. We have to fight it forever.
Might we all be the same, even at birth? No child (other than Mary) ever failed to “open Pandora’s box” of disobedience; of willfulness, of rebellion. And once we start…
Seems to me quite possible that disobedience on the part of Adam and Eve might not have been a mortal sin at all. It might have simply been a willed change from one state to another…not a good choice, but a decision to be one kind of creature rather than another.
The angels did that in a different way. They were all very clear of mind at whatever choice they made. Some chose to be joined to God in ways we probably can’t even imagine. Some chose themselves in isolation from the Divine. We can’t fathom that either.
But there’s something about free will. If it was not possible to choose, it wouldn’t be free will. And that ability to decide for ourselves what we consider good and what we consider evil is there from the beginning for angels and for us.
It was the mortal sin of disobedience to God.