Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why Do People Die?

Is the sin of Adam greater than the salvation of Christ? I didn't used to think so, but today I'm not so sure. If Christ died for our sins, than why do people die?

Adam and Eve, according to one interpretation of the Bible story of Genesis, were supposedly immortal. Then they ate a bad apple and spoiled the whole apple cart of humanity forever. Our mortality is therefore the result of humanity's original parents trick-or-treating at the Devil's tree house, and suffering the mortal cavity that comes from eating forbidden fruit. The stain of 'original sin' is thus our human birthright and proof of how destructive a sweet tooth can really be. Christ, however, came to undo our sinful sugar addictions by dying for all the sweetest of sins everywhere. At least, that's what I thought.

This lead me to wonder if man's power to sin was somehow greater than God's power to forgive. All the Christians I asked replied, "of course not." They argued that "man, who is finite, cannot possibly sin to a greater degree than God, who is infinite, can forgive." Yet, if God can forgive all sins, and He can forgive them all completely, then why do people die? Didn't Christ undo the sin of Adam and Eve? Or did Christ merely "forgive" the sin while God forever begrudged the sinner?  And isn't forgiving someone without commuting their death sentence the same as pardoning a criminal but executing him anyway?

According to many believers, our mortality comes from the genetic moral defect Catholics call "the stain of original sin." Yet if God could have removed that stain of sin but choose not to, is He not as much to blame for our sinful proclivities as, say, the devil is for provoking us? Clearly, God could have allowed people to be born without the stain of original sin. In fact, He apparently did just that with Jesus and His mother Mary.

 While many people often confuse the "Feast of the Immaculate Conception" with "The Annunciation," the former is the conception of Mary by her parents via natural procreative means, without the stain of original sin - hence "immaculate" - while the latter is the conception of Jesus by Mary and the Holy Spirit via super natural means. As a Catholic, I was taught that neither Mary nor Jesus were born with the stain of original sin. And just look how they turned out?

Indeed, if Mary and Christ are any indication of how virtuous humans can be when not born with the stain of original sin, just imagine if everyone were born that way. And if everyone had been born that way, then perhaps there would have been no one around who was willing to engage in the "sin" of crucifying Christ. In this way, the pains of Christ were exponentially increased by God allowing the stain of original sin to be inherited by all humanity in the first place. In other words, God made the bed that Christ was forced to lie in.  If more people had simply been born without the stain of original sin, then there is good reason to believe that less sin may have been committed in the world overall.  Less sin requires less forgiveness, which means the less suffering for Christ to endure. In theory, this means that Christ could have potentially redeemed all of humanity with little more than a slap on the wrist. 

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