Why did we inherit original sin?

I have an 11 year old son, 5 year old daughter and baby # 3 on the way. We were recently talking about planning the new baby’s baptism and my son asked me, “Why are we punished for Adam & Eve’s sin?” I told him that we are all sinners and that every time we sin, we make a choice just like Adam and Eve did. He then asked why babies have to be baptized to get rid of original sin if they have never sinned before. My answer was because Jesus said so. :smiley:

However, I know you CAF members have a much better answer that will make more sense to an inquiring 11 year old and his mom.

I think the best way to address this is by means of analogy. Suppose your grandfather inherited great wealth that he himself had not earned. Unfortunately, he also had an unhealthy interest in gambling. Before he died, he went to Las Vegas and lost every penny. You, as a grandson, would have been rich, but instead, your inheritance is reduced. This is the case with original sin. God gave Adam a gift he did not earn, Adam lost it, and so his descendants did not inherit it. But God is still fair to us because he offers us not just the exalted state in which Adam was created, but a much higher state of union with him through Christ. What we have to do is accept the offer. (Shamelessly stolen from Catholic Answers)

You can find more information about original sin in Catholic doctrine here:

What we call original sin is actually the loss of original holiness. God gave Adam and Eve the unmerited gift of original holiness and justice, which they rejected and lost by freely choosing to disobey God. Why that loss of original holiness affects the rest of humanity is probably too complicated to get into when explaining this to children, but we can say that God still offers his free gift of sanctifying grace to every child through baptism. He has given us a way to get it back.

In the case of infants, the Church doesn’t claim to know what happens if sacramental baptism with water is not received prior to death. The message the Church gives is a hopeful one though:

  1. What has been revealed to us is that the ordinary way of salvation is by the sacrament of Baptism. None of the above considerations should be taken as qualifying the necessity of Baptism or justifying delay in administering the sacrament.[135] Rather, as we want to reaffirm in conclusion, they provide strong grounds for hope that God will save infants when we have not been able to do for them what we would have wished to do, namely, to baptize them into the faith and life of the Church. The hope of Salvation for Infants.

Just say that the baptism makes your baby brother look like baby Jesus, very beautiful inside. And because of this he will some day get to live in a wonderful place filled with all good things and great people. And isn’t that nice?


If we all inevitably sin there must be reason for this strange, unnatural tendency-there must be a predisposition. And yet this predisposition cannot come from God or else He’d the author of evil

Original sin is another way of saying we have a nature to sin.

I have this argument with my wife all the time. “How did we raise our kids to be so disobedient?”. I say, “we didn’t, they have a sin nature and we are trying to lead them away from it”. Adam, Eve, and Lucifer all sinned because they had a “free will” which is a gift from God. It is a right to choose whether to sin or not.

God wants a willing servant not a slave. If Adam and Eve didn’t sin then someone else would have. Cain perhaps.

Lucky for us God is willing to forgive the sin if we repent and profess Christ as the risen Lord and Savior.

Hebrews 8:12
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

How does this analogy fit with Ezekiel 18:20?

“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”

Why did we inherit gravity?

Catholics wholeheartedly agree that the personal sins of one’s descendants are not inherited. However, this does not rule out original sin. From the CCC:

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.

Why do you think Jesus died on the cross?

To fulfill this.


At first look at your post I was somewhat reluctant to accept your view that we had a nature to sin. But I could partly accept it when I realized that we were meant to walk with our God, and absent that, we are captive to sin. So I would accept that we have a nature to sin when that nature is separated from the guidance of God. However our nature was never meant to operate outside of God’s guidance.

But I guess this is where the Calvinist idea of irresistible grace (to receive faith) comes in: Whether we cooperate with that Grace to receive it, or whether it is forced upon us. In the latter case there is nothing good at all in us, but this seems to contradict God saying we were good when He created us.


So original sin is inherited? I just want to be clear.

OS is a lack of something, not an addition, it consists of separation from God, loss of sanctifying grace/original justice, sometimes referred to as the “death of the soul”. In this sense, yes, we inherit it; we inherit Adam’s woundedness, born without knowledge of God, without faith in, let alone hope in, let alone love for Him, in need of being “born again” or “born from above”, in need of reconciliation and re-communion with God so He may live in and through us as always intended.

So when a baby is born with original sin it is Adam’s fault right? I think we all agree it wasn’t the baby’s fault.

It’s not the baby’s fault in the least-just something he/she will have to deal and struggle with-as we all do-because God deemed it a worthy struggle, one He’ll use in such a way as to bring an even greater good out of the evil which resulted from the Fall that He allowed, without causing.

This seems contradictory to what we are taught about original sin.

See post #10.


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