Why is it sometimes sinful to exercise our free will?

I realize one may misuse or abuse free will. But if G-d bestowed upon us the choice, why would we be committing a sin when we exercise that choice, even if it may mean distancing ourselves from G-d’s Will and harming ourselves in the process? Why wouldn’t G-d be pleased by the fact we use the free will He gave us provided we don’t intentionally harm others?

Well, that is the point of sin, right? Sin *does *cause harm to ourselves and to others. We freely choose to sin. God isn’t upset by our using the gift He gave us, He is upset that we chose to do evil rather than good. That is the sin.



Interesting question, I think at least for me, free-will would need consensus. Personally I think we are already punished by an injustice-iniquity, the choice to refuse God results in death which is related to the spiritual law. The law then is an aid not a burden.

I think that the exercise of this freedom is not the purpose of this capacity. Because it is a freedom, it can be abused.

[quote=CCC]1704 The human person participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit. By his reason, he is capable of understanding the order of things established by the Creator. By free will, he is capable of directing himself toward his true good. He finds his perfection "in seeking and loving what is true and good."7

How can God be pleased if we freely choose to direct ourselves toward the not good?

Also, even if a particular sin appears to only affect us individually, it eventually effects and harms those around us.

Because God placed free will at the service of knowledge. And knowledge includes the intellectual pursuit of a well-formed conscience. If we use our free will in opposition of knowledge and intellect we have not pleased God.

You seem to act like the ability of having free will and using it is a virtue. Yes we have the ability to use it for anything we want, and you may not always see it but sin is ALWAYS harmful to the person that does it. What God wants is for someone to realize that they do have free will and to completely turn to him, that is what pleases him the most. The prodigal son: he rejoices when we turn to him. God would not ever be pleased with us harming ourselves.

Just ask all the men who looked at pornography and where that got them. It didn’t hurt anyone else directly but it did a lot of damage to those who partook in it. And it became something that hurt the relationships around them, whether wives or girlfriends.

Our free will was not given so that we could offend God, but so that we could freely choose to love Him, because without choice, there is no love. God wanted us to make the right choice though. There are still right and wrong choices.

Our will was not meant to be separate from God in its decisions - distinct in terms of being free, rather than coerced, - but it was meant to submit to God’s Will in all things… in every moment of our lives, not just in certain actions. We were meant to live together with God, and Him acting in and through us. Sin exists because our will rebelled and separated from God’s Will, and we got concupiscence from that too (concupiscence is the tendency to sin).

Hope that clarifies a bit… :slight_smile: if you remember why our free will was given to us, and that it was actually not meant to be on its own, (but following and submitting to God’s Will) - then it’s clearer…

God bless!

“**the **choice” and “**that **choice” give the impression that free will consists of only one possibility yet there are at least two and sometimes many! :slight_smile:

We may also intentionally harm ourselves…

What is sin? What is free will?

We perform actions unconditionally at the moment depending on how our intellect is evolved through life experiences and what the situation is, hence otherwise our action couldn’t be free. So we are exercising our intellect not free will since the later is the result of confrontation of experienced intellect and situation. The concept of sin is out of norm action when it is measured toward normal behavior you expect from a society so it is society dependent.

I think a lot of the confusion over things like this stems from us adhering to a modern conception of freedom. We seem to think that freedom means being able to will things just for the sake of willing things. The act of willing is an end in itself for us. Ancient and medieval philosophers defined freedom as the ability to comply with the ends that are proper to you given your nature. There can be no such thing as the “freedom” to do what is contrary to your nature. God eternally wills His own goodness and hence is infinitely free, although we moderns would see this as being unfree because it seems like God can only do one thing. I believe it was St. Augustine that said something to the effect that in Heaven it’s not the case that you simply are able to not sin, but that you are unable to sin.

Another issue is that moderns have a voluntarist conception of God, which leads us to think that God’s will is so sovereign that He defines what is good solely by willing it. We seem to think that sin is just breaking a completely arbitrary command that God has set for us, and He gets grumpy when we don’t follow the rules. But that is the wrong way to think about God’s will I think. Aquinas would hold that will follows from intellect. What’s good for me as a human being is defined by the objective nature of humanity of which I am a participant. I sin when I do something that is contrary to the natural ends set for me by my nature as a human being. God doesn’t want us to sin because it is bad for us as human beings. We exhibit the ability to not comply with our natural ends because such a power is a necessity for being able to know and love God and each other, which is a higher good than being a mere sentient, instinctive animal.

Thank you all for your excellent responses.

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