What was the original sin?

My youth director recently brought this up in my youth group. We were talking about original sin, the immaculate conception, and how/why Mary was truly the “new Eve”. So while talking about original sin, my youth director challenged us to go home and think about and develop some guesses on what the original sin was. So the question isn’t ''What is original sin?" but rather “What was the original sin?” I think my youth director said that we don’t actually know what the original sin was, but she has a theory that she is trying to get us to arrive at by next meeting. I’m losing sleep…:stuck_out_tongue:
I asked her after the meeting if the answer was pride, and she clarified that she wanted a more specific sin than that. Like, because pride is at the root of *all *sins. So the question more specifically is “What sin (caused by pride) was the original sin?”
I understand that there might not be a known answer to this question, so I am looking for discussion and ideas.

I’m guessing it would be rebellion, and pride often precedes rebellion. That was the “original sin” of Eve; in fact, it was the original sin of Satan and the 1/3 angels that followed him.

There is an answer. It’s right in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Man’s first sin

CCC 397 Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of [Cf. Gen 3:1-11; Rom 5:19.]. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.

The Catechism is a great place to look to for answers to all kinds of questions. :slight_smile:

That’s great that you guys are reflecting on these important questions in your youth group. :thumbsup:

**As a seasoned youth minister my question would not have been worded as this. Instead of one answer or an easy answer from sources - I would have posed a more thought filled question.

“What are the effects in your life of original sin and the consequences of this sin.”**

Think on reverse, please.
Why did the writers of the Bible talked about original sin? Did they have and idea that came through the air like lightning and they, poof, they discovered original sin?
I do not think so. Otherwise they would more explicit and you did not have to do your homework.

So, men realized that there was sin. That everybody sinned. That all peoples offered sacrifices to the gods. That every nation on earth (the earth of that time!) had the notion that we are not “well”, we are not good, that there is evil on us, that it was not supposed to be that way.

On the other hand, they observed what is obvious, that parents influence their children, for the good and for the bad. From this to Adam and Eve it was an easy conclusion. I was influenced bu my parents, my parents by their parents, my great-granparents by their parents and so on till there should one who was the guilty of it all, as someone said in CAF, one that "blew up " the whole thing.

But it is not that way. adam and Eve did not exist. When Jesus was asked whether a disabled person’s parent sinned or was it himself, Jesus said that it was neither way. We see there that the Jews had the idea that if someone had a disease it was a punishment for our ancestor’s sin or for the person’s sins themselves.

Adam and Eve are a reflection on sin. That there is sin. That sins propagate throughout humanity. god knows whether my sins influenced the past, for for God there is no time. A reflection on sin, which is not normal. That sin is wrong and God does not want it. That sin is a punishment. And many more conclusions I have no time to think into now.

There was no person guilty of it all. Mush less a person that eating a fruit persuaded by a snake made all the evil of the world.

And and Eve are like a parable of Jesus. Nos existing teaches us a huge amount of wisdom and God’s will.

Re: What was the original sin?

Most likely disobedience, forsaking the commandments of El-God in the garden.

If I understand what you are saying correctly, you are dangerously close to if not actually contradicting CCC 375 and 390 and the teachings of Pope Pius XII Humani Generis as well as the Council of Trent.

When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of good and evil, not only did they disobey God; they also gained the belief that they had the power to decide what was good and what was evil, not merely knowing the difference. In this they ursurped God’s role, who has the ultimate decision on what is good and evil. Note that upon eating the apple, they now decided that nudity was evil, which apparently was not God’s thought on the matter.

These statements are incompatible with the teachings of the Church

Agreed. Asking youth to come up with their own idea on this topic is, IMHO, irresponsible. The Church teaches us authoritatively on this topic. We don’t need to make things up. I don’t know what the youth minister could be thinking. She has a “theory”? Sounds like this youth minister might be headed down a dangerous path.

I have found that it helps to have students think their own thoughts, bring those thoughts forward, and then teach where there is misunderstanding. It is not the same as teaching them that their thoughts on things are their guide. Rather, it can be a way of teaching them to think their thoughts, to form their questions in a deep manner, and then go to the wisdom of the Church with their questions. In this way, they will come away with a deeper understanding that will have answered questions that they might not have known they had until they were far away from this prime opportunity to be taught. They will also see how beautifully what the Church teaches fits with what reason will come to when reason has done its work deeply and in keeping with God’s revelations instead of in a shallow manner that is limited to the scope of one person’s point of view.

This is assuming that the youth have already learned the black-and-white rules before the conversation starts. They learn the black-and-white as children, and then in adolescence and young adulthood, when their rapidly-growing minds will naturally begin to question everything, they will be getting the maturity to come back and learn the material in a deep manner that is possible for someone who is gaining the mind of an adult. This will ready them for the questioning that they will undoubtedly get both from their own minds and from the world they meet as they go out on their own.

I’m not saying the youth minister is actually doing this. I’m saying that it is possible, and IMHO would actually be optimal.

Based on this statement, “I think my youth director said that we don’t actually know what the original sin was, but she has a theory that she is trying to get us to arrive” I don’t think this is what the youth minister is doing. But, we don’t know the whole situation.

So, OP…Go back and read the account in Genesis, but keep these things in mind:

  1. God is love and God is truth. God cannot deceive, nor be deceived. In this account, only God can be counted on to be telling the truth.

  2. God’s wisdom is above our understanding. God cannot give us the infinite truth He has, because in our limitation, we cannot comprehend it. While we are not capable of understanding the complex relationship between an action and all of its consequences, we are capable of understanding and acting on the information we must have in order to act in accord with God’s wisdom. On that account, we are by our nature on a “need to know” basis. We must trust in God’s infinite understanding, and accept God’s control.

  3. The devil, OTOH, is a master liar. The most dangerous lies used in temptation are those that are not total fabrications, but rather twistings of the truth. Ask yourself what part of what the tempter said was true and how the truth was twisted into falsehood. Also ask yourself, “Why did the tempter tempt? What was the tempter’s agenda?”

Now consider:

What were the hidden motives in the conversation between the woman and the snake? Can those tell us what the sins of the snake and the people were in this story?
a) Has the tempter ever wanted to make people into gods? Why or why not?
b) Does the tempter want people to know good from evil, so as to choose good? If not, why would the tempter want the people to think they could comprehend what they are incapable of comprehending fully?
c) What does the tempter want to gain from this exchange, then? Why does the woman not ask this question?
d) The woman and the man (who was with her through this), found the tree “desirable for gaining wisdom”. What was the wisdom they had, and what was the nature of the wisdom they thought they lacked? What did they hope to do with it? What false estimation of self came into this calculation?
e) The tempter succeeded in getting the man and woman to doubt the truthfulness and motivations of God. How did their desire keep them from questioning the motivations or truthfulness of the snake?

More to the point: When asked their motives, why do the man and the woman refrain from admitting their motives to God? We are told what their desire was. Why don’t they admit what their desire was when God asked? Do you think their answer reflects any sense of repentance on their part? What would it say if they had answered more honestly?

You might consider whether the permanence of their sin was reflected as much in their answer when they were confronted with their sin than in the mere decision to eat the fruit.

Was original sin an act with durable consequences, or the choice of a durable attitude? Was their sin in the eating of the fruit, or in choosing the attitude that lead them to reach their hand out to grasp at the chance to be a god?

Time will tell.

:eek: So, oh wise one, which other parts of the Bible shall we presume to declare to be mere fable?

Your post appears to deny the basic christian moral assertion that sin begets more sin and that sin has real and genuine harmful consequences. Supposition has its place, but yours has jumped the fence.

You hold a common misconception concerning the ways in which Holy Scriptures are and are not to be taken literally.

It is one thing to contend that the revelations of the Bible are communicated via the use of a certain number of metaphors and literary devices. It is another to say flatly that this person or that in the Bible did not exist.

The writings of St. Paul indicate that the Apostles didn’t believe what you are saying. Not surprisingly, Catholics believe that the Apostles had a better sense of what Our Lord taught than you do. They held to the belief then (and the Church still holds it now) that Adam was a literal single person, for when St. Paul wrote about Adam as a literal single person, they did not take that as evidence that his letter did not belong in the deposit of faith.

*Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world,h and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned— for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.

But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many. And the gift is not like the result of the one person’s sinning. For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation; but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal. For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ. In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous. The law entered in so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord*. Rom. 5:12-20

And to specifically note for the OP where the Church takes this specific stance:

**CCC 390 **The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man.264 Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.265

265 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513; Pius XII: DS 3897; Paul VI: AAS 58 (1966), 654

OP, if your youth minister misunderstands this position, please be very respectful in bringing these and other passages made available to you here by other posters to her attention. Pfaffenhoffen’s post reflects a very widespread and honestly-held misconception.

Yes, we covered that question too. :slight_smile:

Council of Trent was before Darwin.
Pius XII, there, did not speak ex-cathedra.

Why? Where? When?
I belonged, I belong and I always will belong to the Church, the RCC.

I did not say “mere fable”. The prodigal son was not a “mere fable”. It is pure theology, the word of God. The Gospels say that Jesus always taught in parables.

To consider a Bible tale a “mere fable” is absolutely wrong. I explained that the Adam and Eve tale was pure theology, the Word of God.

I cannot give you any infraction about “mere fables in the bible”. As for what others are considered “midrash” (tales with a doctrine) you may study, and I think you should study, The construction of Genesis, The Traditions of Genesis, the 4 traditions in Genesis. Search in Google and you will find much material.

As you guess, I cannot develop it here.