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“Ask a Priest: Did God Make Us as Sinners?”
Q: I have been raised as Roman Catholic. I’ve tried my hardest to remain faithful. I make it my duty to teach my children the beautiful teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ. However, recently I have run into a huge hurdle regarding my faith. I don’t understand why God made us sinners. Why is sin inevitable for every single one of us? If it is already pre-determined that we are all sinners, then why must we repent? God made us like this. Is it really our fault, or is it his? And if this is how he made us, doesn’t that mean we are not good? If it’s impossible for a person to live and die without ever sinning (with the exception of Mary, mother of Jesus, and babies, I suppose), then did he truly make us good? Please help me. It has been on my mind for a very long time, and I feel I am pulling away from God. -A.S.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It is good to hear that you are taking seriously your responsibility to educate your children in the faith. That is one of the greatest acts of love and service you can do for your children.
Now to your question. It is good to remember, first and foremost, that everything God creates is good. “God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good” (Genesis 1:31). That includes human beings, who are made in his image and likeness (see 1:26).
It is not pre-determined by God that we are sinners. In his original plan for the world, we were all meant to live in perfect harmony with his will.
The sin of Adam upset all of that. In a mysterious way the sin of Adam affected all of his descendants, including us. Just as we inherit certain features from our own parents, so we (including babies) inherit something from Adam: original sin.
Original sin can be thought of as a defect in our nature. It can be removed by baptism, yet it leaves an aftereffect – namely, concupiscence, the tendency to sin.
The Catechism in No. 405 says, “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.”
God in his mercy didn’t give up on the human race. He sent his Son as our redeemer. With the grace of God, especially through prayer and the sacraments, we can attain holiness.
It is good to be clear: God did not make us sinners. He never makes anything bad. He does, however, respect our freedom. He respected Adam’s freedom, just as he does ours. If we commit actual sin, it is our fault, not God’s. Still, he is always there ready to extend his mercy to those who repent.
So how should you move ahead? With great humility! Be humble and honest enough to recognize that your sins are your choice – and that you need God’s mercy and forgiveness as do the rest of us.
All this should give you a sense of hope. You are, after all, a beloved daughter of God. He only wants the best for you and your family. If you stay close to Jesus and the sacraments, and cultivate a devotion to Mary, you will sense God’s goodness and closeness.