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Monday, May 30, 2016

Why do we get punished for the sins of Adam?

It's been said that the Catholic teaching on Original Sin is really, really unjust: guilt-less offspring are being punished for the actions of their parents.  

The question becomes:  how is it fair that we are guilty for what Adam and Eve did?  Why should Adam and Eve's descendants be found guilty for something they didn't do?


The question above, however, demonstrates a rather impoverished understanding of Original Sin.

We are NOT guilty of the sins of Adam and Eve. No one is guilty of anyone's sins except his own.

We simply are deprived of the grace that was given to Adam and Eve.  

They lost it because of their actions.

And because they didn't have it, they couldn't pass it on to their descendants.

We are not held personally responsible for Adam's guilt.

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.--Catechism of the Catholic Church

That is, because Adam and Eve wounded their human nature, this wounded/flawed human nature was passed on to us.


  1. But that still doesn't make sense, and the same question exists: WHY would others be deprived of grace because of the actions of Adam and Eve? And to take it back further, WHY would a god take away this grace from those two for such a small action? To withhold this grace from billions of other people for millions of years because Adam and Eve ate fruit they were told not to--when they themselves did not have knowledge of good and evil--is not logical or loving.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Anonymous.
      The answer, I think, to your question is: (super)natural consequences. That's what happens when you sin--grace disappears.

      I suppose if you have a problem with the above then you should also have a problem with natural consequences. You could ask the same thing of, say, planting corn. "Why doesn't God just make corn appear on everyone's plates? WHY does he make it that you have to sow the seeds, water them, harvest them...."

    2. And the Christian answer to the above is similar to the answer to your question: it's just natural consequences. That's what happens when you plant a corn seed. Corn grows. And if you don't have the seed, you don't have the corn.

      If we don't have supernatural grace given to us from our parents, we don't have it at our birth.