Born in Sin, or Innocence?
A common belief in most denominations of Christianity is that everyone is born (or conceived) in sin, a.k.a. original sin and ancestral sin. Why is this a belief? It roots from the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, also known as the Fall of Man (Genesis 3). Psalm 51:5 (KJV) says:
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
This is another verse that convinces many Christians that everyone is born into sin. Other verses providing a basis for this doctrine are Romans 5:12-21 and I Corinthians 15:22.
Here is the usefulness of the doctrine according to BBC:
- Universality: Original sin teaches that all human beings are flawed and sinful – no-one is better than anyone else.
- Non-dualist: Original sin explains evil without having to portray God as having a bad side, or an evil partner, responsible for the badness in the world; evil comes from human rebelliousness.
- Non-designed: Original sin explains how a world that God designed to be perfect is actually full of evil.
- Not inevitable: Original sin teaches that the world could have remained perfect – it was not inevitable that Adam and Eve would disobey God.
- Mechanism: Original sin demonstrates a mechanism that enabled the original disobedience to damage everyone.
The general beliefs to avoid the effects of original sin are:
- Accept God’s love and forgiveness
- Believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem their sins
- Get baptized.
The one we will focus on is baptism. Baptism is used to dedicate yourself to a belief system, become a member of a church, and cleanse yourself of all sins. Infants are baptized to cleanse them of sin. What could an infant have done to sin? They haven’t been alive long enough to sin. They also wouldn’t know if they were sinning. Even before birth (when they are fetuses), people tell others that the unborn children are innocent. How does the act of being born suddenly make babies sinners? It doesn’t make any sense.
There are few Christian denominations that reject the concept of original sin. One of them is Mormonism (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). They believe that a child is innocent until they are seven or eight. Instead of baptizing the babies, they will bless them. When the child reaches seven or eight, the child will then be baptized because they understand what they are committing themselves to. Other religions believe in blessing babies too (i.e. Islam, Hinduism, etc.).
Many of us believe that babies are innocent at birth, which makes people want their babies blessed. Other religions believe in blessing the baby. In many circles, we also believe that the unborn are pure. Thus, it is reasonable to believe that a baby is not born into sin, but innocence instead.
- BBC. “Original Sin.” BBC Religion. BBC, 2009. Web. 11 May 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/beliefs/originalsin_1.shtml.