Before I found my faith, I had a real problem with the concept of original sin. The first time I attended RCIA classes with my wife, I used it as one of my excuses for dropping out of the classes. I remember someone describing original sin as a stain on humanity, that is all humans have this propensity to sin. Yeah, okay. I was coming from the perspective that all humans were not perfect. We all make mistakes, and to call our mistakes a sin seemed a bit heavy handed.
Of course, now I know that I had an immature sense of sin. I did not understand that sin is about choice—a choice that either brings you closer to God, or pushes you away from God. Our imperfection comes from not always making the choice that brings us closer to God. We are inconsistent creatures.
Now, original sin is a choice that says, “I don’t need God. I can do it all on my own.” Adam and Eve were the first to say this. They originated this choice. Everyone since then has made the same choice, except for Mary and her son Jesus.
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I suppose that most people, either raised in their faith or a convert, reach a point in their lives where they honestly decide in their hearts to believe. They decide to no longer “go with the flow” but take responsibility for their choice to believe. I remember the day I found my faith; or, perhaps I should say that God managed for me to step outside of my doubt and skepticism, and let myself be found. Looking back at that afternoon, I could almost imagine a light going on over my head and a warmth engulfing my body, but that would be embellishing the story. Something did click inside me that afternoon, a change from off to on, and I could begin to see the world in a whole new perspective.
Sometime during the next day, the idea of original sin caught up with me. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized how much I had disappointed God. It was a good thing that I was already sitting down when I came to this realization because, as I think back, I probably would have fallen to the floor and curled up into a fetal position. I had felt so smug in my self-reliance. I knew in my heart what it was like to be the Lost Son. Although my baptism has absolved me of this sin, it is still a bitter and humbling mistake that haunts me from time to time.
“I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”